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How to Serve Food in a Restaurant

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While serving food in a restaurant may not seem difficult, it can be frustrating to meet the demands of hungry customers without complaining. Waitstaff are expected to serve guests while keeping politeness, organization and efficiency standards. Since increased guest happiness often leads to increased tips and return customers, it’s important for servers to learn the fundamentals of restaurant food service. Develop your service skills to prevent being the server that guests never ask for, and even switch tables to avoid.

Greet guests immediately with a smile and positive attitude, even if you're too busy to serve them that moment. This acknowledgment demonstrates your enthusiasm and willingness to serve. A quick introduction and menu handout can suffice during busy hours.

Give guests enough time--no fewer than five minutes--to look over the menu before taking their orders. Make recommendations of house specialties and promotional items.

Double-check each order for accuracy. Memorize the menu, including the standard offerings for each main course, to speed up ordering. Repeat each order back to the guest, paying special attention to substitutions and other requests. Learn and use the charting system at your restaurant to cut down on delivering orders to the wrong people.

Engage guests with light and polite conversation throughout the meal. Although guests appreciate conversation, don't overload them or relate personal stories. This includes details of your horrible day and your love life. Remember that other guests may be listening.

Scan your seating area regularly to check whether guests need anything. Keep an eye on drink levels to ensure refills are offered before glasses are emptied. Clear away plates and utensils from previous courses to ensure guests have enough table room. Offer special accessories such as high chairs, plastic cups and crayons to guests with children.

Present the food and drink in an appetizing manner. Place each item in front of the correct guest, taking care to avoid spills. Alert guests to use caution around hot foods and serving dishes. Ask a coworker for assistance when serving large amounts of food. Do not talk or cough over food and drinks. Most guests will need a condiment or other item right away. Immediately after delivering the food, ask if guests need anything else. Come back in a minute to make sure guests have everything they need. Check on them periodically, but allow them to have a relaxing meal without interruption.


Maintain a clean personal appearance. Bring a spare uniform with you in case yours becomes overly soiled while working.


Avoid horseplay while at work. It makes you look unprofessional and also increases the chance for accidents.


Remy Lo has been a freelance writer since 2002. He covers a wide range of topics, from politics to personal improvement, and has been published in a literary magazine and several websites.

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