One of the most important responsibilities of a waiter is to prepare the restaurant for
service; it includes looking after daily cleanliness of the furniture, fixtures and
equipment, including ancillary sections such as pantry and stillroom. This is often
referred to as ‘Ménage’-literally, the housework. Ménage includes mise en place and
mise en scene. ‘Mise en scene’ means to put the scene or ambience of the restaurant
in order. In restaurants, as in cuisines, equipment or food pre-prepared in readiness for
service is described as ‘mise en place’, which means to put in place. Hence, preparing
is itself called in restaurant jargon “doing the mise en place”
Mise en scene
Following are the responsibilities of restaurant staff on arrival in the restaurant
Freshen the restaurant, in order to remove any kind of stale smell of food or
smoke from the room. This can be done either by opening the restaurant
windows or by air circulation in the room.
Thorough cleaning of floor must be ensured by vacuum cleaning the restaurant
Vacuuming heavy drapes, especially between the folds
Dusting furniture, fixtures and artefacts.
Polishing mirrored surfaces.
Changing fused bulbs.
Putting all furniture and other items in its respective position in symmetrical
Checking plants and flowers in the restaurant or any other decoration that
Checking the working or all electric points.
Checking and testing music in the restaurant.
Mise en place
It is the responsibility of the senior captain to ensure proper mise en place. One or
more stewards are assigned to carry out these activities for a period on rota, or as per
the ‘house rule’.
These activities are:
Filling up salt and pepper cruet
Preparing bread boats and butter dishes.
Providing chinaware to kitchen for food pick up.
Preparing condiment tray.
Cleaning menu cards and putting them in order
Buffet set up.
Checking water/ milk etc. in Tea/ Coffee urns
Preparing garnishes for the bar.
Chilling beverage bottles.
Keeping ice cubes ready for beverages.
Drawing store items and arranging them in an order.
Tidying up the table reservation register.
Setting up the side station.
Setting up hostesses’ desk.
Preparing for clearance; setting up back area.
Setting up tables.
One of the main activities carried out by restaurant staff during mise en place is
stacking the side station or sideboard or dummy waiter. A side station is the most
important piece of restaurant furniture. It is the base from which waiting staff works
in the restaurant. The size and design of side station varies from one establishment to
the other, but its salient feature should be the same, varying only due to the type of
menu or number of covers to be served from it.
A side station must have a flat unencumbered top to permit the unloading of large
continental tray likely to be used in most of the restaurants to bring in food and also to
bus soiled plates from the restaurant to the back area.
A well-stacked side station can be of greatest assistance to the service staff. It is a
very effective tool to handle busy meal periods. Before the meal period begins, the
side station should be ‘en place’. All items and service equipments serving a
particular menu or meal should be stacked in the side stations. All side stations must
be stocked and stacked in the same, uniform fashion so that there is no confusion
when waiters change stations.
Items commonly required on the side station for luncheon and dinner service include:
Condiments: herbs and spices, proprietary sauces, pickles, chutney etc
Cruet set – salt & pepper, olive oil & balsamic vinegar.
Silver ware: Soup spoons, dessert spoon and fork, tea spoons, demitasse
spoons, parfait spoons, service spoon and fork, A.P knife and fork, fish knife
and fork, steak knife, hors’d oeuvre knife and fork, pastry fork, fruit fork and
any other special fork such as snail fork, oyster fork etc. depending in the item
on the menu.
o Finger bowls
o Tea strainer and drip bowl
o Water jug: cold and room temperature water
o Beverage rounds/ continental tray/ beverage tray, properly lined with
o Straw and tooth pick holder
o Sugar sachet holder – Extra sugar/ Demerara sugar and Equal.
Glass ware: Water goblets and hi-ball glasses
China ware: Tea cups/ saucers, B&B plates
Linen: Folded napkins- Dinner &Tea
o Waiters cloth
o Tray covers
o Table cloth
o Tea pot holder
o Check folder with guest comment card
o Menu cards – Food/ Beverage/ Wine list
o Scribbling pads and pencils
o Tissue napkins
o KOT pads
o Extra bud vases
While stacking the side station some of the points to be kept in mind:
Compartments in a side station should be lined with baize or with waiters’
cloth for stacking linen, silver and chinaware.
All silverware of each kind must be stacked in separate compartments, the
handle being kept towards the outer part of the drawer, forks and spoons
facing down or side ways.
The order in which cutlery is placed varies according to the number of
compartments in the sideboard, but it should always conform to a pattern.
Placing more than one item in a compartment should be avoided; but if a
limited number of compartments make this necessary then logical paring must
Bread boats and butter dishes should be kept in readiness in very few numbers
on the side station and also should be held for a short time on the station
before going on guest’s table.
Side station top must be kept clean and at no point should be cluttered with
A side station should never be over loaded or over stacked with equipment, in
order to avoid unnecessary cluttering.