Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Proven Tips, Tools and Tactics of Great Waiters for Novices. Pt.1.

Congratulations! You've been hired, As a novice you may be asking yourself "now what do you do?". Well now is when you consciously decide to excel. You ask yourself: "how do I become a great waiter?" Even more importantly, "what is great?". What skills should I possess?; here are some tips.


Good communication skills

Organized thinking


Affable, efficient

Enjoy working with the public

Thick skinned

Be a team player

Available for any shifts

Basic math skills


Here's a few more tips.

Keep your uniform in excellent condition - ironed, stain-free and neat,
creased pants,polished shoes.

Leave personal problems at home, or at least not at work.

Never sit around. If you have nothing to do, stand on your station, there's nothing worse than a hostess or manager having to find you when you've been seated.

Tools of the trade:

Pens and notepad

Wine key

Cigarette lighter

Crumber(if applicable)

Any other items not listed particular to the unit.

So what else makes a waiter great. In my experience, that depends on who you ask. After all is said and done, it boils down to two categories. Guests and co-workers. Although, in the final analysis the guest is paramount, your first exposure will be to co-workers, so we'll deal with them first.

On your first day, you'll probably be assigned to a "trainer" whom you will follow in order to see how things are done. You should be given some kind of tour or overview of the restaurant, with respect to info you need to be familiar with. This is your training period, and varies from unit to unit depending on the service level to be performed.

You may be given materials comprised of menu items, wine list--by the glass and by the bottle. There may also be a basic liquor and beer list, after dinner liqueurs, dessert etc.
Depending on your experience, you may be familiar with a lot of this, but if not don't worry, ask questions, and the rest will come in time.

While training, be aware of details as you follow your trainer.Observe the food presentation, and develop within yourself how you would best describe it. Listen for exceptions, and write them down for follow up when time permits. A lot of items/preparations may be available just not listed.

Try to anticipate what your trainer may need without being intrusive. Display an eagerness to learn and be helpful. You may even want to use the tactic of asking if he/she minds if you perform certain tasks when the need arises,i.e. greeting a new table, taking a drink order, delivering food and so forth.

Table maintenance is another often overlooked aspect of a great waiter that is crucial.
Empty glasses,soiled plates and flatware should be cleared per course, and replaced with mis-en-place(settings) for the next course. In upscale dining rooms, one should wait until all diners are done, as opposed to clearing piecemeal, unless of course at the guest's request.

Be aware of mis-en-place, in this case tools for performing various aspects of service. Examples would be wine carts, decanters, coasters etc. for wine service, or items needed for french/tableside service.

From bosses to dishwashers, always be courteous. As the new kid on the block, keep your opinions and non restaurant related conversations to a minimum. Let your trainer or manager be your problem solver if the need arises. This is a prudent approach for your own benefit, as it will help prevent the impression of you being a bad fit.