Training & Hiring
Whether you're an owner or a server or a busser hoping to be promoted, you should know the most crucial waiter and waitress duties expected when working in a restaurant.
For full-service restaurants, having a friendly, reliable, and dedicated staff of servers is key. Customers are more likely to return and become loyal to your restaurant once they have been welcomed and treated well by your staff.
So, what makes a great waiter or waitress? We decided to take a look at the 20 duties for waitresses and waiters that we think are most important.
A waiter, waitress, or server is the liaison between the kitchen and the customer. From sending the orders of the guests to the BOH staff and then delivering that food from the kitchen to the table, there are a slew of duties and side work tasks that a waiter and waitress is responsible for.
1. Ensure that you clock in once you arrive to work and clock out after your shift and for breaks. This way, employers can keep track of their staff, and employees know they're getting paid for the correct hours worked.
2. Welcome customers when they enter your restaurant & escort them to their table. If they have a reservation or specific table requests, be sure to accommodate them.
3. Be a menu expert. Give guests menus once they have been seated and be prepared to provide detailed information on ingredients, food allergies, how the food is cooked, recommendations, and the specials of the day.
4. Sometimes, servers are expected to bus or help bus. Prepare tables and clean when customers have left and replace silverware, table cloths, and glasses with clean ones.
5. Take accurate food and drink orders with an easy-to-use POS system. There's nothing worse than getting an order wrong. It's frustrating for the server, the customer, the owner, and the chef. For better accuracy when firing to the kitchen, we'd recommend using a handheld mobile POS system.
6. Be sure to always ask for ID if customers order alcoholic beverages and look underage.
7. Always communicate with kitchen staff on orders or any issues. Side note to owners/managers: a kitchen display screen, or KDS, can help with this.
8. Check dishes and kitchenware for dents or breaks. Customers don't want to sit down to cracked glasses or dishes; it's a big turn off and reduces the chances of them returning.
9. Serve food and drinks straight away so that they don't go cold (or warm). There's nothing worse than biting into lukewarm food or taking a sip of cold coffee!
10. Some restaurants will require you to perform food preparation duties such as preparing apps, salads, cold dishes, desserts, and/or making coffee. Make sure you're following the proper health guidelines, donning gloves because you've been working with your bare hands and touching money all day.
11. Check in with customers to ensure they are enjoying their meal and that there are no problems. If there are problems, be sure to deal with customer complaints correctly and politely, as no one likes a rude waiter.
12. Remove plates and cutlery from the table when customers at the table are finished and bring them to the kitchen to be cleaned. Towards the end of the meal, ask if guests want a to-go box if there's any leftover food.
13. Ask customers if they'd like desserts, tea, or coffee once you have cleared the table. These are among the most-highly marked-up items in restaurants.
14. Once customers are completely finished with their meal, bring them the bill and leave it on a neutral part of the table, or approach the table with a tablet for guests to pay, sign, and tip at the table. Be prepared to know how to split the bill.
15. Regularly meet with hosts, hostesses, and the back-of-house staff to review specials, changes on the menu, 86'ed items, and service specifications for reservations (e.g. big parties).
16. During down time, stock service areas with supplies such as ketchup, salt, pepper, sugar, and cutlery.
17. Towards the end of the night, servers may be tasked with cleaning duties such as sweeping and mopping the floors, vacuuming, tidying up the server station, taking out the trash, and/or cleaning the restrooms.
18. Have superior balancing skills and cat-like reflexes. You're going to be on your feet and carrying food around all day, and no one wants to hear that dreaded sarcastic applause for dropping a dish.
19. Be available to work flexible hours and be dependable. The schedule of a server is seldom fixed.
20. Present yourself well and abide by proper grooming and appearance standards. Servers are the face of a full-serve restaurant!
All of the above waiter and waitress duties are crucial to ensure a smoothly running restaurant and a pleasant experience for customers. Managers should make sure that all waiters and waitresses are aware of these duties from the moment they start working in their restaurant.