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Waitress Duties

Deepa Kartha
A job of a waitress goes beyond just taking orders, serving dishes, arranging and cleaning tables, handling the payment of checks, etc. This story will not only give you information about duties and responsibilities related to this job, but will also guide you to excel in your work.
Interesting Fact!
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, from 2018 to 2028 the employment of food and beverage serving and related workers is estimated to grow at 6%.
There can be many benefits of doing a job as a serveuse. It can be a fantastic option for ladies who are searching for their first job. One may have to work in shifts and can do the job simultaneously with their education. Most women or girls take up the job of a waitress either because they do not have a specific qualification or to support their studies.
With the introduction of so many restaurants and food joints every year, the requirement of waiters as well as waitresses is also doubling up.

There are many people who consider this as the best platform for honing their people skills, as one has to interact and handle different types of people throughout the day.
So, if you are planning to take up this job to get some practical experience in dealing with people, it is extremely important to know about the expectations, duties and responsibilities related to this job.
Job Expectations

Though a restaurant is usually known because of its excellent food, poor service can mar the popularity of the place. Hence, most good restaurants follow various stringent criteria while hiring servers.
Although they do not lay emphasis on educational qualifications while hiring for this profile, qualities like patience, smartness, good memory, positive attitude, manual dexterity, etc., are some of the attributes that employers seek in their staff.
Though good looks is not always a major criteria, girls who are neat and smartly dressed often have better chances of being chosen.

Role and Responsibilities

Welcoming Guests

The first and foremost thing to do is to greet the guests and welcome them. Every waitress is given a section of the restaurant to handle during her shift. It is her duty to welcome the customers and escort them to their respective tables.
Hand over the menu card to the guests and give them some space and time to deliberate and decide. After they have decided, ask them politely if they would like to place the order.

Taking Orders

There is a possibility that the guests are unable to decide what to order. At this stage, if the customers are confused or are not able to make a decision, it is your responsibility to describe as well as recommend wines or other drinks. This applies to the food too, i.e. you have to know about each food item in the menu and how it is cooked.
If required, you may also suggest certain dishes to the customers.  Giving a brief description and answering questions about the drinks and food is expected of you. In case of taking orders for alcohol, sometimes you may also have to check their IDs for proof of age.
While the patrons are placing their order, you will have to write the items down in a notepad and then inform the chef.

Serving the Order

First, serve drinks as ordered by the guests and in appropriate glasses. Serving champagne in wine glasses won't go well with the guests. After some time, bring the food. The sequence of serving food is usually soups, salads, starters, main course and desserts. Do not forget to serve all the guests on the table together.
Ask if refill of drinks is required. When the guests are done with the food, offer and serve desserts. Take the check or the bill to them. Ascertain the items and amount to avoid unnecessary problems for the guests.
Get the payment and return the balance cash or card to the patrons. Keep the change or tip when the guests leave. Wish them good day or good night and thank them for visiting the restaurant.

Table Service

In most of the big restaurants, the duty for this profile ends after the customers' orders are informed to the kitchen. However, in small restaurants, a waitress also needs to ensure that food reaches to customers' tables correctly. As you have to mind more than one table at a time, you need to be really attentive and give each table equal importance.
You have to make sure that the glasses and condiment containers are refilled on time. Solve any problems pertaining to the order, quality and taste of food, etc. If there is a birthday celebration, you are expected to get the cake on a stand, light candles and bring it to the table. You may also join in for singing the Happy Birthday song.
Another important duty is to clear away the table, after the completion of each course. At the end of the meal, it is your responsibility to take the check to the customer and get the money or card for payment to the cashier.

Arranging and Cleaning the Tables

Apart from looking after the customers who arrive at the restaurant, there are certain extra duties that you will have to do. You have to ensure that the table is set up and is ready before the guests arrive.
In other words, it is your duty to make the table presentable by placing a clean tablecloth, plates, spoons, forks, knives, glasses, folded napkins, etc. at the right place. Moreover, you might also be responsible for clearing as well as cleaning the tables once the customers leave.
Before closing the restaurant for the day, you are supposed to wait and clean the restaurant, and make it ready for the next day. You will have to take off the linen for washing, clean the tabletops and re-stock the supply shelves for the next day. You will also have to refill the stock and fill the pepper, sugar, salt, and napkin containers on the table.

Quick Tips

Multitasking: Understand that job of a waitress is a very demanding. You will have to undertake various duties and look after many tables simultaneously.

Eye Contact: Do not stand behind the person who is placing order.

Cleanliness and Hygiene: Maintain a clean and presentable appearance. Refrain form touching your mouth or nose while catering to the guests.
Practice Patience: Be patient and wait for the patrons to place their order.

Provide Assistance: Apart from escorting the guests to their seats, help old people, children and physically challenged people in any way you can.

Friendly and Cheerful: Maintain a friendly, happy and pleasant disposition.
Good Listener: Concentrate on what the patrons have to say and then recommend the dishes based on their likes.

Quick Action: It is important that you are thrifty and fast in actions. Do not allow a glass to be empty for long. Avoid bumping into others while moving from the kitchen to the tables and back.
Troubleshooter: Try to solve the concerns of customers on your own. In certain cases though, you may need to inform the manager.

Be Polite: A courteous, polite, soft-spoken and well-mannered waitress is preferred any day over a rude and angry one.
Work Meticulously: Try to avoid spilling beverages or food items on the table or on the guests. It creates a negative impression about you and the restaurant.

Money Matters: Be careful with the money, do not take the balance as your tip unless the patron mentions it or leaves the venue.
People Skills: All that matters is connecting with the people, understanding their requirements and delivering drinks and food in a time-bound and efficient manner.

Honesty: If there is an extra service charge that has to be levied, inform the patron when you take the bill to them.
Inform: Do not deliver a hot plate without warning the guest about the same.

Request: If someone is talking on a cell phone in a loud voice, request them politely to keep their voice low.

Managing Situations

Here are four situations that you may face during your duties as a serveuse, let us see how you can shoulder them with responsibility.

Resolving Conflicts

Guest: What kind of a restaurant is this? I ordered smoked salmon and what I was served was a burnt salmon. I have been visiting this restaurant since a long time but this has never happened with me before. I would like to have a word with the manager and bring this to his notice.
Waitress: I am extremely sorry, Sir. I will replace the dish immediately. I am sure this is just a one-time error from our end. We value you as our regular guest and wish to offer you complementary dessert of your choice. We regret the inconvenience caused.


Guest: What will you recommend for a vegan main course dish?We do not want anything that is too spicy.
Waitress: Sir, I will strongly recommend you to go for Vegetable Dumplings, as it is one of our specialties. I will request chef to make it medium spicy for you. You can also try out Stuffed Acorn Squash, which is a very tasty option and has very less spice.

Escalating Matters

Guest: We made a reservation and came here 40 minutes back, and we still haven't been served our dinner. I would like to speak to the manager about this slow service.
Waitress: I regret the inconvenience, Madam, but it is a peak hour and we are short on staff today. I will ensure that your order is here in a matter of minutes. We appreciate your patience.
I kindly request you to please bear with us for this delay. If you still wish to speak to the manager, I will call him right away.
Though the duties of a job of a waitress are huge, the salary is not. However, the major earning comes from the tips that the guests give for good service. Nowadays, there are several hotel management schools which offer students not only practical training for this job, but also a certificate after successful completion of a service related course.
Such courses can help you in getting a job in some popular and busier restaurants too. Always remember, customer satisfaction is the key to success in the service industry.