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Restaurant Server Uniforms 101

Are server uniforms right for your restaurant? Here are a few things to keep in mind when designing your restaurant uniform.

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This post was last updated on Jul 19, 2021.

DISCLAIMER: This content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal, accounting, tax, HR, or other professional advice. You are responsible for your own compliance with laws and regulations. You should contact your attorney or other relevant advisor for advice specific to your circumstances.

What is a restaurant server uniform?

A restaurant server uniform is a set outfit, typically provided by the business, that servers wear during every shift. 

A server uniform is different from a dress code. A dress code suggests guidelines that the staff are asked to adhere to  — like wearing all black, or requiring a shirt with a collar. A server uniform is more specific: a branded shirt, specific hat or apron, or (in some cases) a complete outfit.

What is the purpose of a restaurant server uniform? 

Uniforms aren't required in every restaurant. Depending on your concept, they might not be needed. 

But if you do go the route of restaurant server uniforms, they can serve many purposes — clearly identifying staff to your guests, ensuring a work-appropriate outfit, and creating brand continuity. And server uniforms should be functional – making it easier for your staff to perform their jobs well while staying comfortable. 

How much do uniforms cost in a restaurant? 

As with many choices you make in your restaurant, the answer is: It depends.

If you're only providing aprons and otherwise requiring that servers wear their own clothing (maybe in a particular color palette), the costs are low: you can find aprons in bulk for a few dollars apiece. Prices increase from there, especially with custom or personalized items. Here are a few restaurant uniform suppliers and restaurant uniform stores to check out: Waitstuff and Webstaurant Store

If you prefer to provide a complete outfit, your prices increase accordingly.

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How to design a restaurant uniform

Here are a few things to keep in mind when designing your restaurant uniform. 

Design for your concept 

Make sure that your design aligns with the context of your restaurant. For example, a cafe might keep it casual with a t-shirt or hat with the logo. A fine dining establishment would want the design to reflect the upscale atmosphere – stick  to darker or more neutral colors, and higher-end materials.

Keep comfort in mind 

Restaurant server uniforms should be functional and never hinder an employee's job responsibilities. Keep materials light, breathable, and unrestrictive. Serving takes a lot of quick movements and agility, so comfort is essential.

Stick to cotton and other breathable materials, offering both long and short-sleeve options, and adjusting for the summer and winter months. And consider the ease of laundering, too: You don’t want your servers to dry clean their workwear; the restaurant industry is far too hands-on for that!

Stick to your brand 

Employee's uniforms are a part of your overall brand, so make sure to integrate your brand into the uniform's style. Think about customizing with your logo, sticking to a unique color palette, or even making custom uniforms unique to your concept.

Start designing! 

Restaurant staff uniforms can be as simple or complex as you want. 

Keep the needs of your business and staff in mind, and you'll be able to create a uniform or dress code that works for you.

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