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Waiters and waitresses must make sure they get the orders right, but they are responsible for much more than just serving food. This job requires patience, the ability to juggle many tasks at once, and a personality that enjoys working with a variety of people. Waiting tables can be a very successful career for the right person.
One of the most important duties of a waiter is to provide excellent customer service to restaurant patrons. This can be a very demanding job when faced with rude or ill tempered customers. A waiter should be a "thick skinned" type of person, who does not allow the bad behavior of others to affect his personal attitude. The waiter represents the restaurant and customers often judge their overall experience based upon the service they receive.
Waiters take customers' food orders, give the orders to the kitchen, serve the food and beverages, refill drinks, check on the customers to make sure they are satisfied with their dining experience, clear the empty dishes, and often accept payment for the meal. The level of service can also depend upon the formality of the restaurant. Fine dining establishments often have waiters with extensive knowledge of the menu and who can make wine recommendations.
Waiters are an important part of a restaurant's staff. They need to have open communication with the hostesses, bartenders, chefs and managers to make sure they have all the correct information to pass along to the restaurant guests. They also need to be aware of any food safety issues (such as dishes that contain allergens) and help the rest of the staff handle any customer complaints. Waiters also need to work together with other servers to make sure everyone is aware of which tables they are serving to avoid any overlap.
Some restaurants provide uniforms for their waitstaff or expect waiters to adhere to a dress code. Waiters are responsible for meeting the appearance standards at their place of work. They must also know their work schedule and find a replacement if they ever have a conflict with their assigned shift. Waiters must be prepared to be on their feet for all or most of their work day and should be able to handle stress and the physical duties of serving food.
Jennifer DeDonato currently works as a freelance writer, proofreader and editor. She earned a bachelor's degree in English in 1997 and has published study materials for an educational company. While a college student in 1995, DeDonato started writing for her university's yearbook and spent her college career writing and editing. She has been a professional writer for more than 14 years.