Most diners think that the managers, servers, or cooks act as the backbone of the restaurants they frequent. However, very people know how their dining experience would fall apart without the hard work of the overlooked dishwasher. These employees usually arrive before anyone else to begin prep work and cleaning for opening, and they usually stay hours after closing to finish up the mopping. You tip the server and your meal pays for the salary of the manager, but the dishwasher usually makes just a little more than minimum for all their hard work behind the scenes.
When a dishwasher quits or calls in sick, the entire operation can fall apart before the restaurant even opens. Dishes pile up, tables get bussed very slowly by waitresses already busy with taking orders, and the entire staff has to stay late to split the cleaning chores. The Fair Labor Standards act makes it illegal for dishwashers to share in a tip pooling scheme in order to ensure they get a basic wage, but this means they also can’t benefit from generous customers who leave a little extra for the kitchen staff. The hard, physical labor of loading, cleaning, and organizing the dishes is essential to the restaurant.