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The main standards of a banquet server are to provide prompt and courteous food and beverage service to patrons dining in a formal, or sometimes casual, banquet hall setting. In most cases, a college education is not required to avail a position as a banquet server; however, there are a numerous responsibilities involved in the position, and customer service experience or training is necessary.
Uniform and Appearance
Many establishments will require employees to wear a uniform. Some will provide the company's chosen style of uniforms to banquet servers. Others may require that employees dress in a particular manner uniform with other staff members. Black dress shoes, black slacks and a white button-up shirt are a common example of uniform requirements for banquet servers. Other banquet server standards may include restrictions on jewelry items, tattoo visibility or hairstyles. Banquet servers are expected to be neat and well groomed upon arrival to work.
Banquet servers spend a majority of their work hours on their feet. They must be in fairly good physical condition and able to stand and walk for extended periods of time to succeed as a banquet server without physical discomfort. A banquet server will also be required to lift heavy trays or to move items of furniture. The ability to lift a minimum of 20 lbs. or more may be required by many employers.
Banquet Hall Set Up And Tear Down
In some instances, banquet servers may be required to set up a room or banquet hall for a scheduled event. The manager or staff leader will provide a seating chart that corresponds to the patrons needs and number of guests. Adding or moving tables and chairs or rearranging them and removal of such items at the end of the event may be a required duty for the banquet servers servicing the party, conference or meeting.
Properly setting tables for guest service is an important duty that banquet servers are responsible for. Knowledge of stemware, silverware, glass wear and linen service are required to properly set a banquet table. Applying table cloths, folding linen napkins and arranging center pieces or table decor are often a task involved in banquet preparation. Banquet servers are ordinarily briefed by a manager or team leader regarding the event's menu to ensure that tables are set accordingly.
Serving Food and Beverages
Banquet servers are informed prior to the start of the event of what is going to be served and when. In a friendly and efficient manner, banquet servers will deliver items of food, beverages and condiments to guests. Banquet servers are also required to return to the guests' tables frequently to check for any special requests, questions or complaints or to refill water glasses, coffee or other beverages. When serving alcohol, banquet servers may be required to ask patrons to show identification to confirm that guests are of legal drinking age.
Between courses, banquet servers return to the tables to retrieve empty dishes, glasses and silverware that are no longer needed, leaving only what may be used during the next course. At the completion of the meal, servers are required to clear whatever soiled dishes or items from the tables remain. It is not uncommon for banquet servers to continue serving coffee or cocktails after the meal is completed and the tables are cleared. Banquet servers must then continue to remove empty glasses from tables until the event is over.
Banquet servers are most often part-time employees and earn an hourly wage plus a commission (or gratuity) that is calculated accordingly to the total billing price of the service provided for the event. Gratuity is generally 15 to 18 percent and divided equally among all staff members who serviced the event. It may vary by establishment and position, but as of May 2010 the average salaries for banquet servers and related positions are as follows: on-call banquet server, $21,000 per year; full-time banquet server, $22,000; and banquet service managers, $47,000 per year.
Michelle Renee is a professional trainer and quality assurance consultant in the career, education and customer service industries, with two decades of experience in food/beverage and event coordinating management. Renee has been published by Lumino and Career Flight as well as various food, education and business publications.