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The 2008 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that nearly 2.3 million waiters and waitresses were employed in restaurants, casinos, banquet halls and hospitality facilities. The person who oversees these servers is the captain waiter, or head waiter. In addition to serving duties, this individual performs a myriad of other tasks to ensure those patronizing the establishment receive flawless and expedient customer service.
Foremost, a captain waiter is a food and beverage server. As such, he or she must be familiar with the menu, wine list and, if applicable, entertainment offerings presented by the establishment. Depending on the size of the restaurant, captain waiters may not be required to serve customers on a daily basis, although they must be ready to do so at a moment’s notice in emergency situations. In this capacity, the captain waiter greets customers sitting in his station, serves beverages and informs customers of the specialties of the day. After taking their order to the kitchen, he brings the customers' food to the table. Throughout the meal, the captain waiter checks in on the diners, answering and resolving any issues that have arisen.
A captain waiter oversees the team of waiters and waitresses who are assigned to her shift. When new servers are hired, she trains them on a variety of subjects such as facility policies, processes for serving customers and any other corporate initiatives. As supervisor, she enforces those policies, identifying those staffers who are negligent, providing warnings, re-training and recommending termination to the general manager as needed. Additionally, she ensures that all time schedules are adhered to, monitoring the attendance of the wait staff.
Throughout the course of a shift, a captain waiter acts as liaison between the kitchen staff and servers. When the kitchen runs out of ingredients or dishes that are listed on the menu, the captain communicates that information to staff members so they may offer alternatives to customers. Additionally, he communicates any customer concerns to the chef and kitchen staff.
KJ Henderson has more than a decade of HR and talent acquisition experience. He has held roles at a Fortune 100 investment bank, a media conglomerate and at one of NYC's largest executive staffing firms. He currently heads recruitment sourcing at a major movie studio. He read literature at Oxford.