A Detailed Guide To First Watch Server Pay

Working as a server at First Watch can be a great gig, especially when it comes to the pay. If you’ve interviewed for a server position or just started working at First Watch, you probably have questions about how servers get paid.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: First Watch servers earn an hourly wage of around $5 per hour plus tips. With tips, servers can expect to take home around $15-25 per hour on average.

In this comprehensive 3000 word guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about First Watch server pay, including the hourly wage, average tips, how the tipping system works, pay schedule, taxes, and how your income ultimately stacks up compared to servers at other restaurants.

Hourly Wage for First Watch Servers

When it comes to the hourly wage for First Watch servers, there are a few important factors to consider. Let’s take a closer look at what servers can expect to earn in terms of base pay, how it compares to minimum wage, and how it can vary depending on the location.

Servers Make Around $5 Per Hour in Base Pay

First Watch servers typically earn around $5 per hour in base pay. This base pay may vary slightly depending on factors such as experience and performance. It’s worth noting that this base pay does not include tips, which can significantly increase a server’s overall earnings.

First Watch Servers Make More Than Minimum Wage

One great aspect of being a First Watch server is that they typically make more than minimum wage. In most states, the minimum wage for tipped employees is lower than the standard minimum wage. First Watch ensures that servers earn at least the standard minimum wage when tips are factored in.

This means that servers have the potential to earn a higher hourly wage than they would at a job that only pays the minimum wage.

Hourly Wage Varies By Location

The hourly wage for First Watch servers can vary depending on the location of the restaurant. Cost of living, local labor markets, and other factors can influence how much servers earn. For example, servers in a high-demand city may earn a higher hourly wage compared to servers in a smaller, less busy town.

It’s important to keep in mind that these variations in hourly wage exist, so servers should be aware of how it may differ depending on where they work.

For more information on the hourly wage for First Watch servers, you can visit their official website at www.firstwatch.com. They provide additional details on their compensation structure and any updates or changes that may occur.

Average Tips for First Watch Servers

Servers Can Expect to Earn $15-25 Per Hour in Tips

First Watch servers can typically earn an average of $15-25 per hour in tips. This may vary depending on factors such as the location of the restaurant, the size of the establishment, and the level of service provided.

It’s important to note that these figures are just averages and individual earnings may vary.

According to a recent survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association, the average tip percentage for breakfast establishments is around 15-20%. This means that if a server’s total sales for a shift amount to $100, they can expect to earn around $15-20 in tips.

However, it’s important to remember that not all customers will tip the standard percentage, and some may even tip more or less based on their experience.

It’s worth mentioning that while the hourly wage for First Watch servers typically falls within the minimum wage range, the tips earned can significantly boost their overall income. This makes it an attractive profession for those looking to earn a decent income while working in the food service industry.

Tips Depend on Your Sales and Restaurant Traffic

The amount of tips a First Watch server can earn is directly influenced by their sales and the overall traffic in the restaurant. If a server is able to handle a larger volume of customers and provide excellent service, they have the potential to earn higher tips.

During peak hours or busy weekends, when the restaurant is bustling with customers, servers have the opportunity to serve more tables and, consequently, earn more tips. On the other hand, slower days or off-peak hours may result in fewer customers and lower tip earnings.

It’s important for servers to stay attentive, efficient, and provide exceptional service to maximize their tip potential. By creating a positive dining experience for guests, servers can increase the likelihood of receiving higher tips.

Contrast Tips at Breakfast vs. Lunch/Dinner Restaurants

The amount of tips earned at breakfast establishments, such as First Watch, can differ from those at lunch or dinner restaurants. Generally, breakfast restaurants tend to have lower check averages compared to lunch or dinner establishments. This can impact the overall tip amount earned by servers.

However, it’s worth noting that tips at breakfast restaurants can still be substantial, especially during busy hours or on weekends. While the check average may be lower, the higher volume of customers can make up for it in terms of tip earnings.

It’s also important to consider the difference in menu prices and the types of customers served during different meal times. Dinner restaurants, for example, often have higher menu prices and may attract customers who are more willing to spend on a dining experience.

This can lead to higher tip percentages and overall tip earnings for servers.

To get a better understanding of the average tip earnings at First Watch and other breakfast establishments, you can refer to industry resources such as the National Restaurant Association or consult with experienced servers in the industry.

How the Tipping System Works at First Watch

When it comes to the tipping system at First Watch, there are a few key aspects to understand. First and foremost, tips are an essential part of a server’s income. They rely on the generosity of customers to supplement their hourly wage.

Here’s a breakdown of how the tipping system works at First Watch:

Tips Are Pooled and Divided Among Servers

At First Watch, tips are typically pooled and then divided among the servers. This means that instead of keeping their individual tips, servers contribute to a collective tip pool. The total amount in the pool is then divided amongst all servers based on a predetermined formula.

This system helps to ensure that all servers receive a fair share of tips, regardless of the number of tables they serve or the size of their individual tips.

Tip Pool Contributions Vary By Restaurant

It’s important to note that the specific contribution requirements for the tip pool may vary from one First Watch location to another. While some restaurants may require servers to contribute a percentage of their total sales, others may have a flat fee or a combination of both.

The exact details of the tip pooling system can be found in the employee handbook or by speaking with the management team at each individual First Watch location.

Understanding Tip Credits and Minimum Wage Laws

When it comes to the minimum wage for servers, it’s essential to understand the concept of tip credits. In many states, including the United States, there are laws that allow employers to pay servers a lower hourly wage as long as their tips bring their total earnings up to or above the minimum wage.

This is known as a tip credit.

For example, if the minimum wage in a particular state is $10 per hour, and the server’s hourly wage is $3 per hour, the employer can take a $7 tip credit. If the server earns at least $7 in tips per hour, their total earnings will meet the minimum wage requirement.

However, if their tips fall short, the employer is required to make up the difference so that the server is still earning at least the minimum wage.

It’s important for servers to be aware of their rights and the minimum wage laws in their specific location. Understanding how tip credits work can help ensure that they are receiving fair compensation for their work.

To learn more about the tipping system and minimum wage laws, you can visit the official website of the United States Department of Labor at www.dol.gov.

First Watch Server Pay Schedule

Servers Are Paid Biweekly

At First Watch, servers can expect to receive their paychecks on a biweekly basis. This means that they will be paid every two weeks for the hours they have worked during that period. Biweekly pay schedules are common in the restaurant industry and provide a regular and predictable income for servers.

Payday is Every Other Friday

First Watch follows a consistent payday schedule, with paychecks being issued every other Friday. This regular payday ensures that servers can plan their finances and have a clear understanding of when they will receive their earnings.

Knowing when payday is can help servers manage their expenses and budget accordingly.

Tips Are Paid Out Separately from Hourly Wages

In addition to their hourly wages, First Watch servers also earn tips from customers. These tips are paid out separately from their regular paycheck. Typically, servers receive their tips in cash at the end of their shift or through a tip pooling system where tips are distributed among the serving staff.

The exact process may vary depending on the specific restaurant location.

It’s important to note that servers rely heavily on tips as a significant part of their income. According to a study conducted by the Economic Policy Institute, the median hourly wage for servers, including tips, is significantly higher than the minimum wage.

Therefore, it’s crucial for diners to be mindful of tipping etiquette and to tip their servers generously for their hard work and excellent service.

If you’d like to learn more about tipping standards and etiquette, you can visit the website of the Emily Post Institute at https://emilypost.com/.

Taxes on Server Pay at First Watch

Working as a server at First Watch comes with its own set of responsibilities, including understanding how taxes affect your pay. Here are some important things to know about taxes on server pay at First Watch:

Servers Must Report Tips for Tax Purposes

When working as a server at First Watch, it is crucial to understand that you are required by law to report your tips for tax purposes. This includes both cash tips and credit card tips. The IRS has specific guidelines on how to report your tips accurately, so it is important to familiarize yourself with these guidelines to avoid any potential issues.

One helpful tip is to keep a daily log of your tips to ensure accurate reporting. This can be as simple as jotting down the amount of tips you receive each day. By keeping track of your tips, you can accurately report your income and avoid any discrepancies with the IRS.

First Watch Automatically Claims a Portion of Your Tips

At First Watch, the company automatically claims a portion of your tips for tax purposes. This is known as the “tip out” process. As a server, a percentage of your total sales is allocated towards taxes, including Social Security and Medicare taxes.

While it may seem frustrating to have a portion of your hard-earned tips automatically claimed, it is important to understand that this is a legal requirement. The amount claimed may vary depending on factors such as your location and the specific laws in that area.

Strategies to Reduce Your Tax Burden as a Server

As a server at First Watch, there are strategies you can implement to help reduce your tax burden. One such strategy is to keep track of your work-related expenses. This includes items such as uniform costs, cleaning expenses, and any other expenses directly related to your job as a server.

By deducting these expenses, you can potentially lower your taxable income and reduce the amount of taxes you owe.

Additionally, it is important to take advantage of any available tax credits. For example, if you are a student working part-time as a server, you may be eligible for education-related tax credits. Researching and understanding the tax credits you qualify for can significantly reduce your overall tax liability.

It is always recommended to consult with a tax professional who specializes in server pay to ensure you are taking advantage of all available deductions and credits. They can provide personalized advice based on your specific situation and help optimize your tax strategy.

How First Watch Server Income Compares to Other Restaurants

When it comes to server pay, First Watch holds its ground among other restaurants in the industry. While the exact income may vary depending on factors such as location and experience, First Watch offers a competitive compensation package to its servers.

First Watch Server Pay is Comparable to Other Breakfast Places

First Watch is known for its delicious breakfast and brunch offerings, and it’s no surprise that their server pay is in line with other popular breakfast establishments. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median hourly wage for servers in the food services and drinking places industry is $12.42.

First Watch servers can expect to earn a similar wage, with the potential to increase their income through tips.

It’s important to note that the actual amount a server earns can vary based on factors such as location, the volume of customers served, and the generosity of patrons. However, First Watch provides a solid foundation for servers to earn a fair income.

You’ll Earn More at Fine Dining Restaurants

While First Watch offers competitive server pay, those seeking higher earning potential may consider fine dining establishments. Fine dining restaurants often have higher menu prices and attract wealthier clientele, which can result in larger tips for servers.

According to a study conducted by the National Restaurant Association, waitstaff at fine dining establishments earn an average of $25 per hour, including tips.

This higher earning potential at fine dining establishments is due to several factors, including the upscale nature of the dining experience, the higher skill level required of servers, and the larger bill totals.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that working at a fine dining restaurant may also come with higher expectations and a more demanding work environment.

IHOP and Denny’s Offer Similar Compensation

If you’re looking for a similar compensation package to First Watch, popular breakfast chains like IHOP and Denny’s offer comparable server pay. According to Glassdoor, the average hourly rate for servers at IHOP is $6-$16, with the potential to earn additional tips.

Similarly, servers at Denny’s can expect to earn an average hourly wage of $3-$14, depending on location and experience.

Both IHOP and Denny’s have a wide customer base and offer a range of breakfast and lunch options, making them popular choices for those seeking server positions. While the exact income may vary, servers at these establishments can expect to earn a fair wage and supplement their earnings with tips.


Working as a First Watch server can be a lucrative job if you provide excellent service and work at a busy location. While the hourly wage is low, servers have the potential to earn $15-25 per hour in tips on top of that.

The key factors that impact your overall pay are sales volume, restaurant traffic, and your tip percentages. It takes some effort to learn the menu, provide prompt service, and build rapport with guests, but doing so really pays off at the end of the day – literally!

If you’re considering working as a server at First Watch, you can expect to earn a competitive income. While it varies by individual, First Watch server pay stacks up nicely against other national breakfast chains. With solid performance, you can do very well as a First Watch server.

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