Waiter/Waitress Job Description Sample

A Waiter/Waitress, or Restaurant Server, is responsible for ensuring diners have a positive experience at food establishments by exhibiting excellent customer service. Their duties include greeting diners and taking their orders, communicating with members of the kitchen about orders and carrying meals or beverages to the correct tables.

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Waiter/Waitress duties and responsibilities

Waiter/Waitresses generally have the following duties and responsibilities:

  • Greeting guests and taking drink and food orders 
  • Staying attentive to the needs of guests in the dining area
  • Delivering food from the kitchen to the guests
  • Ensuring the food order is made correctly by kitchen staff and looks presentable for guests
  • Following health code standards with regards to the handling of food
  • Performing shift duties like delivering racks of cups to the service station, rolling silverware, pre-bussing tables, wiping tables and removing debris and more

Some servers may be in charge of assigning shift work for other servers and performing shift leader duties, taking ownership of the dining room and guests.

What does a Waiter/Waitress do?

Waiter/Waitresss typically work for restaurants and other food establishments to interact with diners and provide them with their meals in a timely manner. They work closely with other Waiter/Waitresss and restaurant staff to take orders, give diners menu recommendations and check on them throughout service. Their job is to use a notepad or tablet device to record orders and communicate those orders to the kitchen. They may also be responsible for cleaning tables after diners leave and communicating with the kitchen about diner requests.

Waiter/Waitress skills and qualifications

Successful Waiter/Waitresses should have a skill set that allows them to work quickly, pay attention to details and attend to multiple responsibilities at a time. Some of the most important skills and qualifications for a Waiter/Waitress include the following:

  • Minimum age requirements: In some states, Waiter/Waitresses must meet a minimum age requirement to serve alcohol in an eating establishment.
  • Customer service skills: Before anything else, Waiter/Waitresses are customer service professionals. People entering this field should develop skills that help them work with the public.
  • Physical ability: Due to the demands of the job, Waiter/Waitresses should have the physical ability to stand for long periods of time and lift trays of food, racks of cups and other objects that might be a part of daily duties.
  • Critical thinking and time management: Waiter/Waitresses have to work well under pressure. For instance, when the restaurant is very busy and the sous chefs are backed up on tickets, servers may need to use their critical thinking and time management skills to assist with quality assurance in the kitchen while keeping guests happy and refreshed.

Waiter/Waitress Salary Expectations

A Waiter/Waitress makes an average of $11.71 per hour. Pay rate may depend on level of experience, education and the geographical location. 

Waiter/Waitress education and training requirements

There are usually no education and training requirements specified to be a Waiter/Waitress, although some employers may require a high school diploma or equivalent. Some websites and states offer Safe Food Handling certification that people in the service industry can take to be more of an attractive candidate in a competitive market. As they gain more experience in the field, Waiter/Waitresses can move up to leadership or managerial positions.

Waiter/Waitress experience requirements

Often, the career path for a Waiter/Waitress with no experience is to start as a Host or Hostess and work their way into the server position. Beyond that, there are no specific experience requirements to become a Waiter/Waitress. Anyone going into the service profession should expand on skills such as customer service, attention to detail, multitasking and basic math. In general, this type of experience and skill set is gained after spending some time in the food service industry.

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Frequently asked questions about Waiter/Waitresss

 

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

The difference between a Waiter/Waitress and a Food Runner lies in seniority and the scope of job responsibilities. For example, Waiter/Waitresss hold more seniority when compared with Food Runners due to their job duties. They engage directly with diners, take and input orders and check on diners throughout their meals to take additional orders or refill beverages. In contrast, Food Runners work closely with Waiter/Waitresss to assist them in taking orders from the kitchen to the appropriate table.

 

What are the daily duties of a Waiter/Waitress?

On a typical day, Waiter/Waitresss arrive at their work location before the start of their shift. They meet with other restaurant staff before service begins to go over daily specials or menu changes. Throughout their shift, Waiter/Waitresss take orders and process those orders for kitchen staff. They update diners on wait times for their meals. 

Waiter/Waitresss continually check the progress of orders at the expediting counter and organize meals onto trays to transport them to the correct tables. They also check on diners throughout their meal to ensure their satisfaction. At the end of service, they issue receipts and collect payment from diners. Waiter/Waitresss also help Bussers by removing glasses and dishes throughout service.

 

What qualities make a good Waiter/Waitress?

A good Waiter/Waitress is someone with excellent customer service capabilities and a personable nature. These qualities enable them to provide diners with a positive experience with their restaurant. Waiter/Waitresss also have the ability to remain calm under pressure. This is particularly important during peak service hours as it allows Waiter/Waitresss to maintain timely, accurate service. 

Further, a good Waiter/Waitress has a degree of physical stamina that enables them to carry and balance heavy trays of food and beverages. Physical stamina is an important quality as Waiter/Waitresss spend most of their shifts on their feet, walking to and from the kitchen.

 

Who does a Waiter/Waitress report to?

A Waiter/Waitress typically reports to the Head Waiter/Waitress or Senior Waiter/Waitress to ask questions about the restaurant’s operations and receive table assignments. Waiter/Waitresss may also report directly to the Restaurant Manager or Front of House Manager when diners want to provide feedback about their experience.

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