The waiter (and waitress as well, but for convenience we are lumping everyone into one term)
are the face of any food and beverage establishment. These men and women are on the front
line any restaurant and the services they offer. One could argue that the services of a waiter
are even more important (or at least as important) as the food that is served. As such, it the
success of any food and beverage establishment is dependent on the quality services that its
Because waiters are an integral facet of the business operation of a food and beverage
establishment, there duties in regards to guest service should be thoroughly detailed in a
restaurant SOP (service operating policy). The restaurant SOP should cover the following
points and much more.
A Successful Waiter Will…
• Be confident and friendly. Smile at guests and engage in useful conversation. Avoid
personal talk, as guests are there to enjoy themselves and not help you through
• Be accurate. Make sure you repeat everyone’s order back to them to ensure that you
have it right. Nothing frustrates a guest more than to have their order messed up and
the delays that result.
• Ensure guest satisfaction. After you deliver food to guests, take a few moments
before leaving to make sure that everything is to the guest’s satisfaction. If drinks
need to be refilled this is a good opportunity to do so. Also, check back in periodically
to make sure that the guests have everything that they need.
• Not hover. While you want to make yourself available if the guest requires your
services, once you have checked on them and they have everything they need, allow
them to enjoy their meal.
• Keep an eye on guests. In connection with the last point, while you don’t want to
hover over guests, you do want to be within eye contact so that if they signal you or
otherwise want to get your attention, you will be able to respond quickly.
• Rush guests. Do not give the impression that you are rushing guests by asking if they
are ready of their check or asking if they are finished eating. Instead, allow guests to
signal when they are done and ready to pay for their meal.
• In addition to following the above duties, waiters should have a few common
characteristics that allow for consistent success:
Attributes of a Good Waiter
• A good waiter is tactful.
• A good waiter is responsible.
• A good waiter possesses round knowledge of an establishment’s services and
• A good waiter pays attention to details.
• A good waiter is well dressed.
This is only a small sample of what the attributes and traits that comprise a good waiter or
waitress that should be found in a restaurant SOP. For a restaurant manager, having
personnel with these skills and characteristics is paramount for success. Much of this can be
instilled with proper training. In addition to a restaurant SOP, every establishment should
have a restaurant training guide that outlines procedures that allows food and beverage
management to impart needed skills to personnel. Our ebooks, are terrific resources for
establishing your own restaurant SOP and training procedures.
A major key for success in the food and beverage industry is knowledge. Don't find yourself
behind the eight ball! With our informative eBooks (most of which are free!), you will have all
the informative resources you need to not only manage your business, but enhance it. Visit
http://www.restaurant-data.com to learn more about how to make your food and beverage
operation a booming success. Ehab Rashwan
Things You'll Need:
• Writing tablet
• Wine opener
• Sense of humor
1. Step 1
Know the restaurant. Learning the hours of operation, the owner, the
managers, and a little history of the restaurant will help too. Questions will
arise and the more you know about the day to day operation of the business
the better prepared you will be to answer them.
2. Step 2
Know the menu. Have at least a general understanding of how dishes are
prepared as well as the basic ingredients.
3. Step 3
Develop your bar knowledge. Some cocktails require questions. Martinis, for
instance, are made up or on the rocks, with either gin or vodka, and are
garnished with either olives or a lemon twist. Know which wines are dry and
which are sweet, as well as the difference between merlot and cabernet or
chardonnay and fume blanc.
4. Step 4
Have favorites. Understand what the restaurant does well and what it doesn't
do so well. Steer customers accordingly. Have a favorite appetizer, salad,
fish, steak, chicken, dessert, wine or signature cocktail.
5. Step 5
Respect your customers. Treat them as if they were guests in your home. It is
harder to become upset or frustrated with someone who is being nice to you.
It isn't impossible, but it is harder. Treat them with disdain or as if they are a
bother and you will see that reflected in not only their demeanor, but more
likely their tip.
6. Step 6
When taking orders, repeat back the order to the guest to avoid any
misunderstandings. Take clear notes. Mistakes happen, but most can be
avoided by being careful. Food related mistakes take the longest to be fix.
Don't forget to place the order. Waiting for a steak cooked well can seem like
Become a Good Waiter
1. Congratulations! You now have complete control over what people put into their
bloodstreams. The power!
Settle, settle. Keep in mind that the hardest part of the battle is yet to come:
becoming a quality waiter. Even if you've had experience waiting tables, learning
the idiosyncrasies of a new restaurant may be harder than you think. And if you
have absolutely no experience as a waiter, then you need our advice before you
Master your daily chores
Learn how to deal with your customers
Learn how to carry many objects
You should master your list of daily chores as soon as possible for two reasons:
1. Your chores will be relatively easy to do--albeit gross at times.
2. If you screw up the chores, you'll at least want to prove that you're trying and
that you're a hard worker.
So go over your chores with your manager or another waiter. Create a list and
pin it to your workstation or keep it in your apron. Until you have the list
memorized, keep checking back with the list. It will be your godsend.
During your first month, unless you're on a break, never stand in a corner doing
nothing--or chatting with a friend, co-worker, etc. If the restaurant is slow, then
start working on your list: refilling salt shakers, wiping down tables, taking out the
garbage and whatever else needs to get done. If you're not sure exactly what to
do, ask your boss. It'll show that you're a hard worker. After your first few weeks,
your boss will be watching you less closely, and you won't have to be a busy little
bee ALL the time. And by then, you'll have developed a routine for your daily
chores and know how to fit them into your shift.
Learn how to deal with customers. Essentially, we're telling you to exhibit
patience, poise and the ability to control your facial expressions when your head
feels like it's going to burst into flames. Smile. Breathe. Eventually, you'll develop
skin as thick as the old mayonnaise in the restaurant fridge.
* Remember not to run and complain to your boss or co-workers whenever a
customer acts obnoxious. Be courteous no matter how many times a customer's
kid spills the milk. Only approach your boss if a customer is harassing you or is
being rude enough to warrant getting thrown out of the restaurant.
* If a customer ever starts to pick a fight, then merely say "I think the manager
would be able to help you better than I can" and go get the manager.
* Don't act as if you're "dealing" with your customers. Not all of your customers
will be hideous demons sent to destroy your day. Most of them won't care a bit
about you except that you bring them their food, so if they don't like something,
don't take it personally.
* Friendly waiters get better tips, and you'll enjoy yourself more if you're being
* Being a good waiter also entails paying special attention to your regular
customers. Learn their names and their peculiarities. If Mr. Johnson likes two
creamers with his coffee, make sure you automatically bring him two creamers
instead of making him ask for it every time.
The most difficult task you'll have to master is carrying plates to and from the
tables. Pretend you're one of those refined girls in a Jane Austen book learning
how to be a refined member of the aristocracy and walk around trying to balance
a heavy book on your head. Go food shopping like this. Or miniature golfing.
You'll learn balance in no time.
In the meantime, don't try to carry more than you can handle. It doesn't matter if
you have to make six trips from the kitchen to the table. Your customers may get
annoyed, but they'll be a lot more annoyed if you spill scalding New England
clam chowder into their laps. You'll eventually learn the best way to carry your
restaurant's trays and plates, and you'll be whisking around the restaurant--a tray
balanced on each pinkie like the rest of the pros.
You'll learn a million more dos and don'ts as you gain more experience. You'll
discover, for example, that leftover dinner rolls turn into hard, lethal weapons
when you forget to put them in the freezer at night, and you'll figure out how
easily hot coffeepots can break.
But most importantly, remember that working in a restaurant, despite its
sometimes grueling nature, is a social job. So chat up the customers who aren't
spawns of Satan, enjoy the free food, and smile as you work your tail off.
Determine What Type of Position You're Looking
1. Before you hit the pavement, you'll have to sit down and answer 3 important
questions that will help you find the perfect waiter's job for you:
1. How much money do I need to make?
2. What kind of restaurant would I like to work for?
3. What kind of hours am I able to work?
How much money do I need to make? First, figure out what you're aiming to rake
in a week. Remember to be realistic. You're new at this, so you won't start off at
the top echelon.
Your income will come from two sources: your tips and your hourly wages, both
of which vary greatly from restaurant to restaurant. When you visit potential
employers (you'll learn how to find some in Step 3), ask these questions:
1. How much will I make an hour in wages? Some restaurants pay peanuts in
hourly wages, but this is usually offset with tips. Your hourly wages could range
from $1.50 to $10, but remember to weigh everything.
2. How much do the waiters generally make in tips during the hours that I will be
working? There's a big difference between the tips made during Sunday night
dinner and those made on Tuesday at 3:00 p.m. And don't take the interviewer's
word for it; talk to other employees about the tips they make. Unless they're
already fighting over shifts and giving newcomers an evil eye, they'll most likely
be happy to tell you. You've hit gold if they brag.
3. Are the tips split among other employees or do I keep all of my own tips?
Some restaurants divvy up the goods at the end of the day, and a huge pot of
money is split among you and all the other waiters (and possibly the busboys).
This matters because if you think you're a better waiter than the others, you
might not want to give up your bigger share of tips.
And, of course, a friendly reminder about taxes: Your hourly wages will most
likely be taxed, but it's up to you when it comes to how honest you're going to be
about your tip income. We leave that to your discretion (guilt trip, guilt trip).
What kind of restaurant would I like to work for? Working at a higher end
restaurant doesn't necessarily mean that you'll make more money. Most higher
end restaurants give you only a few tables, but you'll make $10-$20 in tips per
table. Lower end restaurants, on the other hand, might yield lower tips per table,
but you'll get more tables and the turnover is usually quicker. So a lot of it boils
down to your preference.
Another item to consider: a ritzy restaurant or a chain restaurant, such as Chili's,
will likely have more stringent rules--e.g. you'll have to wear a very specific
uniform--and be more uptight about perfection, but the ambiance will be more
organized and less crazed than a popular pizza place would be. A lower end
restaurant is more likely to be laid back about rules (you won't be killed if a
perfectly cut lemon isn't placed on the water glass), but the atmosphere can
become unruly. Keep in mind, however, that a little craziness here and there can
make the time fly.
One last thing to keep in mind: your boss. At a smaller family restaurant, the
owner may well be your boss and you'll be in direct contact with her during your
hours. If you have any problems, she can take care of them. At a fancy or chain
restaurant, you may never meet the owner, meaning that a large hierarchy will
slow the process of making your complaints heard. But some people enjoy that
level of deep organization.
What kind of hours am I able to work? Obviously, this ties into how much money
you need to make and what's going on in your life. When you go job-hunting,
stick to your guns. You don't want to establish yourself as a pushover right off the
bat. You'll certainly have to compromise a little because newcomers always have
to take a stinky shift or two, meaning a shift with few tips, such as Tuesday
morning, 3 a.m. to 9 a.m., or a shift that falls during the other waiters' fun-time
hours, maybe Saturday 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. But don't agree to work shifts that you
can't work because you have other responsibilities during those times. And don't
agree to work a lot more hours or a lot less hours than you planned. Find a
happy medium between being a slacker and being a workhorse. As you
acclimate to your new job--usually about 3 weeks--you might be able to play
around with your hours and fit them to your liking.