Job Description of a Food Service Worker
Food service is a growing industry and expected to provide an abundance of opportunities for jobs, reports the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. While many positions in food service are part time, the Bureau estimates rapid growth in the field through 2016. Food service jobs require little education; yet offer opportunities for growth and advancement and high earnings through tips.
Waiters and waitresses comprise the largest number of food service workers in the restaurant industry. Wait staff is expected to be familiar with all the operating procedures in a facility, from how to turn in orders to the kitchen staff to greeting customers, taking orders, and serving food and beverages. Waiters and waitresses prepare itemized checks, often through a computerized ordering system in the restaurant. They often accept payment and return change to diners.
Efficient and thorough wait staff is expected in most eating establishments. Servers must remain courteous and listen closely for customer orders and requests. They must learn the menu in order to answer questions related to the options. Servers should check out specials and ask the chef about ingredients before each shift to be knowledgeable about the current menu. Wait staff takes the complete order from a table of guests and turns it into the kitchen.
Depending on the level of dining, servers may be expected to have a thorough knowledge of a wine list and provide services such as pulling out the chairs for guests, opening and laying napkins appropriately and paying close attention to the diners. Informal restaurants may require the wait staff to escort the guests to the table and clean and bus each table when the customers leave. In many diners, the servers also work the cash register and take carryout orders, which they bag and hand over to customers.
Cafeteria food service workers must carry food from the kitchen to the serving line and make sure the food is stirred and appropriately hot or cold. Line workers may serve patrons as they move down the line, taking requests, putting the food on the plate and handing the plate over to the customer. They may carve meat for customers and carry trays out for those who need assistance.
Attendants who bus the tables or welcome guests at the door maintain various roles. Food service workers in the role of host or hostess receive reservations, maintain a waiting list and call customers when their table is ready. They keep a seat assignment chart and designate the seating to evenly distribute guests as they arrive to maintain the best level of service from the wait staff. Larger restaurants employ separate bus staffs that remove dirty dishes from the tables when guests leave and remove tablecloths. They often reset the table and put down a new tablecloth, making sure that the floor and surrounding area also is cleaned.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
National Restaurant Association