How to Wait Tables

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How to Wait Tables. Waiting tables in a restaurant may appear to be an easy job. You take the food orders, bring it to the table, fill up a few glasses, bring the check and collect the tip. Of course, if you have been a waiter or waitress, you know that there is much more to it. Waiting tables just might be one of the most challenging jobs a person may have. However, really good waiters and waitresses are priceless to a fine restaurant.

Know the menu. Take time to learn the all the food selections offered and the policies of the restaurant regarding substitutions and special requests. Memorize the specials of the day, so that you can clearly describe these to the restaurant patrons. Also, study the wine list. Ask for guidelines from the restaurant management as to what is acceptable as suggestions with various menu selections.

Present a clean and professional appearance. Your uniform or attire should always be clean, pressed and within the guidelines of the restaurant management. Your hair should be secured out of your face and not touched while taking orders, filling drinks and handling food. Do not chew gum while waiting on tables as this is unprofessional. Do not have conversations or arguments with other waiters in the eyesight or earshot of your customers, as this is very unprofessional. If you've had a bad day, don't take it out on your customers. It will just cost you most of your tip.

Greet your customers quickly when they have been seated. Make sure that they were given menus to review. Ask if you can take their drink orders while they are deciding on their meal selections. Be courteous, focused on your table and not preoccupied with the things going on around you or outside. Take your cues from your customers. If they are a fun loving group, be talkative with them, but never to the point where it delays their food or drinks. If they are quiet or you can tell they want private time, just be extremely efficient with your tasks, but do not interrupt their conversations.

Consider the needs of your customers. If you have a patron that is handicapped, do not comment on their condition, but rather quietly move chairs if need be or be thoughtful in placing their drink, flatware and dinner plate where all items will be accessible to them. If your patrons are dining with small children, anticipate their needs. It is difficult to dine with small children, so go the extra mile to make sure they have the appropriate high chairs and booster seats quickly and get them a kids menu with crayons. Offer to put in the children's food orders very quickly, bring crackers, extra napkins, spoons, straws and not to mention child size drinks with lids and maybe even some extra cherries for their drinks. The parents will be more than grateful for your extra efforts and may leave a really good tip.

Listen to the customer when taking their orders. Be clear on what they are ordering, especially if they are asking for substitutions or special cooking requests. Write the order down and read it back. It really doesn't impress anyone for you to try to memorize their order.

Tend to your customers once the food and drinks have been served; do not forget about your table. Make sure that everything ordered arrived and the food is prepared the way it was ordered. Anticipate needs of the diners, bring more bread and refill their drinks before they have to flag you down. Only remove a plate or glass after you ask the customer if you can do so, as they may not want their plate or glass removed just yet. Always ask about desserts and offer to provide take home containers if all their meal was not eaten.

Thank the customers for the opportunity to serve them when it is time to deliver the check. Let them know if you will be serving as their cashier or if they pay at another location. If you handle the check, do not ask, "Will you need change." This is very assumptive of you, rather say, "I'll be right back with your change." By using the second phrase, you are more likely to receive a larger tip.


Remember, in the minds of most restaurant patrons, tips are still based on the service of their waiter or waitress, so always do your best.

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