If you want to be in the culinary biz, you're doing the right thing by looking for experience and being willing to start at the bottom.
i don't live in cali, but i can tell you that any restaurant that has waiters needs bussers.
i looked up on google and found good info for you: your continuation school can give you a work permit. here's the link:
[the question "does a work permit require school attendance?" says
"Minors between 16 and 18 years of age who have dropped out of school must be enrolled in continuation or adult school classes for at least four hours per week before getting a work permit].
the thing to do is:
apply in every restaurant you can get to. dress nice. bring a pen. let the managers you are looking for experience because you want to be in the restaurant biz, then do your best to convince them that you work hard, care about doing a good job, can and will be on time every time, and are a team player.
don't get discouraged if the first few places don't take you on. that's part of looking for a job. keep trying. it's tough out there.
also, you know the time of year when the tourists come? that's called "the season" and it's when restaurants get busy. it's best to look for restaurant jobs "in season." out of season, restaurants are slower and don't hire as much.
other places you might want to look for a 1st job in food service are:
1. the mall. the food court is a great place for high-schoolers looking for 1st jobs. plus, it's social, you know you go there anyway, and no late nights.
2. hotels and country clubs have restaurants.
3. golf courses, museums, even some parks and bigger libraries have cafes. if there's a kitchen, seats and customers, there is a job for you.
4. colleges and nursing homes hire food service workers.