Serving at an upscale restaurant can prove to be lucrative work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), patrons tend to tip more at fine-dining establishments, especially in metropolitan areas. Though working in fine dining may be more glamorous than manning the drive-thru, this job isn’t exempt from some of the drudgery associated with food service. But for an energetic individual who thrives in formal social settings, serving in a fine-dining restaurant may be a perfect fit.
A waiter at an upscale restaurant is responsible for taking food orders, delivering food and drinks to tables, answering menu questions and providing recommendations, and processing payments. Often, a waiter in an upscale restaurant needs a thorough knowledge of food and wine pairings and fine dining etiquette. According to the BLS, one of the primary differences between casual-dining and fine-dining servers is their interactions with guests: In fine-dining, waiters are required to be extra attentive to their tables, moving at a more leisurely pace and delivering multiple courses. In some upscale restaurants, a waiter may only be assigned one or two tables to ensure each guest receives enough attention.
Waiters are often asked to carry out the duties of others such as making drinks, removing dirty dishes from tables, checking food quality before its delivery to a table and washing dishes. Each restaurant is different, but some require servers to perform cleaning duties and a variety of side work activities like rolling silverware and laundering tablecloths. Depending on a waiter’s shift, he or she may be required to carry out opening or closing procedures like stocking service areas or setting up or closing beverage stations.
Training and Education
According to the BLS, when filling a waiter position, management typically prioritizes an applicant’s experience and personality traits over higher education. New hires at upscale restaurants who have never worked in the food industry are usually assigned support-staff jobs like host or busser before given the opportunity to wait tables. Although some waiters may hold a degree in hospitality or another service-related field, other successful upscale waiters may have only a high school education or less.
A server in fine dining can progress into roles like head waiter, dining room supervisor or maitre d’hotel after acquiring experience. These jobs may require supervision of other employees and may provide a raise in hourly pay. Sometimes, waiters transition into management roles, which may offer a competitive salary, benefits and vacation days. However, servers often simply migrate to higher-paying restaurants or even more upscale establishments to earn more money in wages and tips.