Proper Wait Staff Etiquette In Serving Guests

by Ryan on June 11, 2011

White Classic 3 4 Sleeve Chef CoatRecognizing the vital role that waiter and waitresses play in a restaurant, here is a list of proper wait staff etiquette in serving your guests.

The proper etiquette of a restaurant’s wait staff is very crucial in providing the guests an outstanding dining experience.  All efforts in coming up with an excellent dining place–the ambiance of the restaurant, background music, proper lighting and its superior food shall go to waste if you, the wait staff, are not able to  carry out your function properly.

Recognizing this fact, you have a responsibility to exert efforts in learning, and eventually mastering the proper etiquette in serving your guests.

Your Demeanor

Physical appearance. Good manners start with your physical appearance.  Coming in neat and clean is a form of respect not just to the establishment that you are working for, but also to your diners.   Your chef coats should be clean and worn suitably.  Long hair must be tied and combed.   Stand up straight, do not slouch.

Behavior. Being witty and charming is great, but wait staff should always remember the importance of brevity in his job.  Wit and charm combined with courtesy and professionalism are the ingredients needed in this occupation.  When there’s a need to talk to each other, always remember that someone always gets to listen, so keep it low.  You are not there to socialize, but to serve.

Moving about. When moving through a crowded restaurant, walk smoothly and slowly.  When compelled to get someone’s attention so you can pass, you can touch the elbow so as not to offend the guest.

Waiting on tables. Do not touch your face or your hair while waiting on tables, nor should you constantly fix your chef coats.  Do not chew or munch on anything while waiting on your guests.  If there’s a need to do so, go to a place where you cannot be seen by the diners.    Wait staff are often the recipients of direction inquiries like the bathroom.  The proper method in pointing the way is to hold your whole arm down low and angle it towards the direction.   The reason for this is to keep the movement subtle, unlike the normal way of raising our hands which catches the attention of the other guests.

Serving The Guests

Taking orders. The proper wait staff etiquette in taking orders is to start with the guest of honor, followed by the women, the men, the hostess then the host.   If such is not clear to you, you could take orders according to seniority – starting from the oldest to the youngest.

Serving of plates. Plates should be served all at once.  The courses should be served simultaneously too, to allow the guests to start their meal at the same time.  Utensils ought to be different in between courses.  You can’t expect your guest to use one fork for the salad and the dinner.

Serving the food and drinks.
Food and drinks are customarily served from the left side of the guest.  Wines are served from the right side.  Always use tray in serving drinks.  Holding the wine glasses looks untidy and gives an impression that the establishment lacks order and grace.  Make sure that glasses are served with cocktail napkins.  Water drops form on the glasses and look sloppy after while.   Proper wait staff etiquette in serving guests require that stemmed glasses be held at the stem.  The cask that holds the liquid should not be touched.

Waiting on your guests. Always be on the lookout if your guests would need anything else.   Make sure that the table has water and everyone’s table needs are attended to.  Your guests shouldn’t have to continuously flail their arms every time they need your attention.

Clearing of the plates. Clearing of the plates should be done after everyone has eaten, making sure that the guests will not feel rushed as you do so.

Bringing the bill. The bill should only be brought out if someone asks for it.  Do not get the signed bill or the payment unless the guest says so.

Precise etiquette in serving guests varies, as this is reliant on cultural norms and restaurant rules.  Each region, each restaurant has its own rules to follow.   But knowing and mastering the above general rules can really be helpful in developing your wait staff skills–allowing you to earn more as well as soar high in this career.

Related posts:

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: