Patrons at restaurants who seek an enjoyable dining experience depend on the services provided by servers at the restaurants. In performing front-end functions at restaurants, servers take orders, serve drinks and food, and remove dinnerware from tables, ensuring that everything is done in a timely way. In this article, we will look at the career path of a restaurant server and discuss what an aspiring restaurant server must do in order to pursue this career path.
Job Profile of a Restaurant Server
The term, ‘restaurant server’ refers to both waiters and waitresses who usually form part of the wait staff at restaurants. Servers can seek employment in different settings, including fine dining restaurants, and casual eateries among others. Servers are required to be on their feet during most of their shifts, commonly choose for part-time jobs. In 2008, about 7.7 million servers and related workers in the United States were employed in serving food and beverages (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov)).
The job responsibilities of a server can vary depending on the nature of the business in which they are employed. As a rule, a server’s primary duties include providing good customer service, taking orders and delivering food. Servers are required to answer questions relating to the menu asked by customers. They work in coordination with kitchen employees and other wait staff in ensuring the efficient operation of the restaurant. Servers in upscale restaurants perform other essential functions. Forming a critical part of the dining experience, they provide recommendations and suggestions aimed at enhancing the satisfaction of diners — such recommendations, for instance, can be about wine pairings. Diners can thus enjoy a personalized meal with greater attentive and formal service given by servers.
Servers employed at restaurants with revolving menus are required to coordinate with managers or kitchen staff every day before they begin to serve customers; this will ensure that they are aware of the food, which is being offered at the restaurant for the day. Such meetings cover various topics, but mainly focus on ingredients used, preparation of food, and unique dishes offered, if any. Ingredients are discussed because some diners can be allergic to the ingredients. A restaurant server has to perform some other tasks in the performance of their duties; for instance, they are required to process payments, greet customers, clean tables and dining areas, and set tables.
A restaurant server’s job is an entry-level position, and an aspiring server is expected to possess a high school diploma. Many employers do not insist on prior experience; however, prospective waiters, seeking jobs in fine dining restaurants are required to have some previous experience. Often, servers get trained on the job, and such training is imparted by wait staff with experience. Employers of restaurant waiters require the provision of outstanding customer service, maintenance for an elegant appearance and the ability to remember patrons and their orders.
A permit for employment as a waiter and a food handler card are among common requirements for individuals who seek to handle food along with drinks in public eating place. Such regulations and requirements vary according to state and county; to obtain the permit, prospective waiters have to complete a class and take an exam. Importantly, permit seekers need to be sponsored by an employer.
Prospective restaurant waiters as well as experienced servers who seek to strengthen their career prospects can enroll in formal training courses conducted by associations and vocational schools. Job assistance and educational opportunities in every facet relating to restaurant operations are offered by the National Restaurant Association (www.restaurant.org); these include job opportunities for servers. There are restaurant associations in several states. A Certified Food Manager and Certified Food Executive credential is offered by the International Food Service Executives Association (www.ifsea.com).