Banquet staff duties may differ from one location to the next and from one job title to the next but for the most part, the job expectations are the same. Banquet staff should expect to prepare and set up the seating for guests, prepare the food and drinks, serve guests, clean up after guests, break down the room, and store things in the proper location for the next service.
Setup and Preparation
Banquet staff are expected to set up the banquet hall with tables, chairs, tablecloths, silverware, centerpieces, and other guest-related items such as name tags or gifts. Banquet staff also prepare the food in advance, cutting vegetables, preparing trays of appetizers, plating salads and deserts. Anything that can be done in advance before the guests arrive will be included in the prep work.
Seating and Greeting
Banquet wait staff may be responsible for serving drinks and appetizers before guests head to their tables. These staff may be called bartenders. Other staff may check coats and hats. Depending upon how the seating arrangements have been finalized, they may also help escort guests or assist them in finding their tables. It is up to the wait staff to keep the event moving forward. They must be cognizant of the agenda while serving guests and keeping them happy.
Banquet wait staff will wait on guests in a prearranged method, table by table. Guests usually have tickets that indicate which meal they are choosing. The wait staff will coordinate the appropriate meals with the kitchen so that the entire table can be served at one time. For example, one table might have three fish, three beef and three chicken entrees. It is up to the wait staff to deliver the correct food to the appropriate guest. Oftentimes there are multiple servers per table, with someone serving coffee, tea, drinks and water, while another server is delivering food and condiments. There may also be a specific server assigned to pick up used and dirty glasses and plates and bring them back to the kitchen to be washed.
Clean Up and Tear Down
Banquet events normally include eating, drinking and speeches. After the meal has been served, the wait staff clear the tables continuously. Oftentimes during the event's speech portion, the wait staff will be in the back putting food away, washing dishes and generally putting the kitchen back into a cleaned state. After the guests leave, the banquet staff will remove the centerpieces and linen, break down the tables and chairs, and put them away in storage. That will allow the next banquet crew to start the process over again based upon the next customer's needs.