What is a commis waiter?

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What is a commis waiter?
Waiting tables can be a taxing job. (waiter with plates image by wojan from Fotolia.com)

A commis waiter is the least senior member of the service team in a restaurant. Responsibilities of commis waiters can vary depending on the establishment, but they must be ready to perform practically any duty in the restaurant as needed.

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A commis waiter is a food service professional who assists more experienced waiters. Also referred to as assistant waiters, these individuals perform the duties assigned to them by the senior wait staff.


Commis waiters are responsible for setting up the tables by placing the silverware and tablecloths prior to the opening of the restaurant. During operating hours, they serve water and bring items such as salt, pepper and bread to the tables. They are also responsible for cleaning the tables after customers leave. In addition, they must keep an eye on the tables and call the senior wait staff when they sense that customers have a need. They may be utilised in the kitchen for washing dishes and other duties. As the junior members of the staff, their roles are flexible and dependent on the needs of the establishment.


In small to medium restaurants, there is usually no need for prior experience to work as a commis waiter. In larger and more prestigious settings, however, some experience may be required. Commis waiters often graduate to work as senior waiters if their initial performance is satisfactory.

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