Food Runner Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: August 22, 2022

A Food Runner, or Server Assistant, is responsible for supporting waitstaff in carrying beverages and meal items to designated tables. Their duties include communicating with Waiters to determine their needs, carrying food items from the expediting counter to the right table and helping with cleanup duties after the conclusion of service.

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Food Runner duties and responsibilities

The responsibilities and duties of a Food Runner center around their ability to deliver food correctly to the customers who ordered it. That may seem simple, but there’s actually quite a bit more involved in being a Food Runner including these major duties and responsibilities:

  • Deliver food orders to customers quickly and accurately
  • Uphold sanitation and food safety principles
  • Bus tables by removing dirty dishes and trash
  • Check in with customers to ensure their experience is satisfactory
  • Relay reports of customer satisfaction to the management and relevant parties
  • Ensure patrons have all the appropriate tableware they need to properly enjoy their food
  • Assist setting up tables before service with appropriate utensils, napkins and decorations
  • Handle various impromptu requests from customers
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Food Runner Job Description Examples

What does a Food Runner do?

Food Runners typically work for bars, restaurants or catering companies to make sure that patrons receive the correct orders within a timely manner. They work closely with Waiters and kitchen staff members to keep the expediting counter clear for new orders. Their job is to clean trays and tray holders in between use, transfer dishes from the expediting counter to serving trays and place food on the table in front of the appropriate diners. They may also interact with customers who need refills on drinks or additional menu items and take orders in the absence of Waiters.

Food Runner skills and qualifications

Being an effective Food Runner requires a specific set of skills and qualifications and may be slightly different from restaurant to restaurant. If you want to make sure candidates responding to your job description have the prerequisites required for the job, make sure they feature these necessary skills:

  • A Food Runner must be able to multitask in order to ensure customers get their orders promptly
  • Food Runners will have to possess a high degree of organizational skills to easily locate tables and bar patrons to fulfill everyone’s orders
  • A Food Runner needs excellent communication skills to ensure they meet customers’ requests. Not only does the Food Runner have to listen to learn where the food needs to go, but they also have to communicate with the customers whether it’s checking on their satisfaction or taking an impromptu request.
  • Food Runners spend most of their shift standing, so they need to be able to remain on their feet for several hours straight. Additionally, they should be able to carry about 35 pounds easily.

Food Runner salary expectations

A Food Runner makes an average of $10.87 per hour. Pay rate may depend on level of experience, education and the geographical location. 

Food Runner education and training requirements

Typically, no advanced education is required to be a Food Runner. Most positions only require a high school diploma while some are comfortable hiring applicants who are still in high school. No previous training is generally required for the position. Most Food Runners can easily be taught on the job with little impact on performance, and virtually no impact on customer satisfaction in the long run.

Food Runner experience requirements

While some Food Runner positions may prefer previous experience in the industry, some don’t require any experience at all. In fact, being a Food Runner can potentially be the first job for someone just starting to enter the workforce. Being a Food Runner is often the path to becoming a waiter.

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Frequently asked questions about Food Runners


What is the difference between a Food Runner and a Waiter?

The main differences between a Food Runner and a Waiter are seniority and general job duties. Waiters have more seniority over Food Runners and can enlist their help to carry out food as needed. Waiters also have more direct communication with diners as they greet them, introduce themselves, take their orders and check on them throughout their meal. In contrast, Food Runners usually have limited interactions with diners but may greet them when delivering food to their tables and may take order requests to pass on to Waiters or kitchen staff.


What are the daily job duties of a Food Runner?

On a typical day, a Food Runner arrives at their place of work before the start of service. They sit in on employee meetings with the Restaurant or Bar Manager to learn about new specials and items of importance. They also use this time to clean trays and organize tray holders if necessary. Once service begins and orders start coming in, they wait at the expediting counter to help waitstaff deliver orders to their tables. 

On understaffed or busy days, Food Runners may work directly with kitchen staff instead of Waiters to receive and deliver orders to the correct tables. Depending on the hours they work, Food Runners also help with cleaning procedures at the end of service to clear tables, clean trays and sweep or mop floors.


What qualities make a good Food Runner?

A good Food Runner is someone who has excellent balance and physical fitness. These qualities help them carry large trays of food and drinks to their respective tables without incident. Balance and fitness also allow them to walk while simultaneously carrying heavy trays and dishes. Food Runners have a team-driven mindset that motivates them to help the kitchen and waitstaff with whatever they may need to carry out service. They also have a personable nature that makes them pleasant to work with. 

Additionally, a good Food Runner should have an excellent memory, which allows them to recall table numbers for specific food items and the table’s location within the restaurant.


Who does a Food Runner report to?

A Food Runner typically reports to a Restaurant Waiter or Bartender to receive tasks. They may also report to the Expeditor or Restaurant Manager for additional questions, concerns or instruction.

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