I started waiting tables at 16 at a hotel/restaurant on the beach in Maine. I started at breakfast for the first two summers. $7.50/hr plus $30-$40 in tips for a 5hr shift. Then I moved to dinners and started making bank. I averaged $200 a night in tips plus $4/hr wages. Some busy weekend nights I made over $300 in 5hrs, but I worked my ass off.
Waiting tables is definitely hard work when you're at full speed for 4hrs straight with no break, but the amount of money you can make without a degree is hard to beat. One of the plus sides is you have a lot of free time during the day. You could easily pick up another job bagging groceries, mowing lawns, etc. I mowed 3-4 lawns a week and spent the rest of my time at the beach, bridge/cliff jumping, or just hanging with friends.
I couldn't imagine working for $8/hr bagging groceries or flipping burgers. Definitely consider getting into a restaurant, even if its just as a bus boy for the first year. Try and avoid washing dishes as its hard to move up. All the money is out of the kitchen anyway.