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Food runners are an important part of a restaurant staff and serve as assistants to the waitstaff. Their main duties are to deliver, or "run" food to tables once a food order has been prepared by the cooks. The food runner may also assist in many other duties when other members of the staff are busy.
The main responsibility of a food runner is to deliver food to restaurant patrons. Once a customer places an order, the waiter or waitress communicates the order to the cook. After the meal is prepared, the food runner is responsible for ensuring that the plate arrives to the customer. Food runners are the last of the staff to see the meal before it reaches the customer, so it's important for them to know what each dish is supposed to look like so nothing is missed. It's also important that the plates are handled carefully and brought out in a timely manner, to ensure optimal food temperature.
Food runners also assist other restaurant staff members with duties such as clearing and cleaning tables, filling water glasses and refilling drinks, maintaining cleanliness in the kitchen and customer areas and returning plates to the kitchen. They also might have to deal with customer complaints
Because food runners are responsible carrying food to tables, they must have a moderate level of physical capability. The better shape you are in, the more it will help you when working as a food runner. Being a food runner can often be hectic and stressful, so it helps to be able to work well under pressure. Food runners often are on their feet for long periods of time, sometimes up to eight hours. It helps to be able to carry up to 20 pounds, as food runners sometimes have to help busboys carry tubs filled with plates out of the dining area. There is a certain degree of squatting and moving around tight spaces so it helps to be nimble and flexible as well.
Employers require food runner to be efficient, detail-oriented, courteous, attention to cleanliness and a team player attitude. Food runners need to be quick and efficient in order to serve as many customers as possible. They also need to pay close attention to detail to ensure that the chef didn't miss any foods on the plate. A positive attitude and a courteous demeanor with customers is a must, as well as making sure you are clean and presentable. Lastly, a food runner needs to be able to work well with others and help us with other responsibilities as needed.
It's important to maintain a professional appearance. This is largely dependent upon the restaurant. A fancy, gourmet restaurant may have certain requirements about hair, personal grooming habits and dress, while a more casual, laid back restaurant may have more relaxed rules. Regardless, you want to appear professional and clean at all times to make a positive impression on customers.