See, waiting tables can be a rather lucrative endeavor, if one is willing to work. And I do mean work. Servers who treat it like a career get paid. They also work nights, weekends, holidays, and often only take one day off per week. They keep detailed notes about regulars—their favorite spirits, how involved they want the server to be, how they like their steak cooked. It is an art, and they rightly get rewarded for their skill.
They also make sure to slide some of their spoils to the team that helps them make it happen. Sure, they don’t spread it around to everyone equally. The food runner who always brings out perfectly plated food and the busboy who keeps the table spotless and water glasses filled are worth a little more than the one chatting up his coworker on the back line. The bartender who gets drinks out not just to those seated at the bar but also to the servers so they can keep their guests refreshed deserves a little more than the bartender who ignores the dining room.
This isn’t to say that cooking is not an art. It most certainly is. This is why accomplished chefs can negotiate salaries and get recruited to other restaurants. The genius chef is the engineer and architect; the server his salesman. It’s a beautiful symbiotic relationship and an example of what makes America great.