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What is a Commis Waiter?

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A commis waiter is the least senior member of the service team in a restaurant. The responsibilities of commis waiters vary depending on the establishment, but they must be ready to perform practically any duty in the restaurant as needed.


A commis waiter is a food service professional who assists more experienced waiters. Also referred to as assistant or apprentice waiters, these commis waiters perform the duties assigned to them by the senior waitstaff.


Commis waiters are responsible for setting up the tables by placing the silverware and tablecloths before the opening of the restaurant. During operating hours, they serve water and bring items such as salt, pepper and bread to the tables. They are responsible for cleaning the tables after customers leave. In addition, they keep an eye on the tables and call the senior waitstaff when they sense that customers have a need. They may be utilized in the kitchen for washing dishes and other duties. As the junior members of the staff, their roles are flexible and dependent on the needs of the establishment.


In small to medium restaurants, there is usually no need for prior experience to work as a commis waiter. In large and prestigious settings, however, some experience may be required. Commis waiters often graduate to work as senior waiters if their initial performance is satisfactory.


Hunkar Ozyasar is the former high-yield bond strategist for Deutsche Bank. He has been quoted in publications including "Financial Times" and the "Wall Street Journal." His book, "When Time Management Fails," is published in 12 countries while Ozyasar’s finance articles are featured on Nikkei, Japan’s premier financial news service. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Kellogg Graduate School.

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