A commis de rang is the French term for a back waiter. He forms part of the front-of-house service team, or brigade, in a restaurant. A commis de rang is typically the first position an individual will work with a service team. Many of his duties assist the front waiter -- who is the commis de rang's direct superior -- in the delivery of effective service to customers.
Prior to service, the commis de rang will assist the front waiter in setting up the tables under their jurisdiction. He will clean cutlery, lay the table with cutlery, glasses and napkins, and make sure the service station (where extra utensils and condiments are stored) is fully stocked.
A commis de rang may take customer orders. He needs to be able to quickly assimilate information, record it in the required format (restaurants often operate a numbering system to identify which meal goes to which person at a table) and convey the order to the kitchen staff.
The commis de rang will assist the front waiter in serving customers their food. In high-end restaurants, the two may work together to simultaneously deliver dishes to the table. The commis de rang will often have responsibility for serving hot beverages at the end of the meal on request.
During a meal, the customer may make requests of the commis de rang. These could include asking for ice for a drink, replacing a dropped piece of cutlery or ordering an extra dish. The commis de rang will typically execute the request immediately, but will inform the front waiter he is working under if the request requires the customer's bill to be altered.
Some of the duties of the commis de rang are colloquially referred to as "busing." These include ensuring that the breadbasket remains full, that the water jug or bottle does not sit empty on the table, and that dirty glasses and plates are removed promptly.
The duties of a commis de rang include cleaning both during and after service. He may be required to remove breadcrumbs from a tablecloth or deal with food or drink spillages. After the customer has left, the commis de rang cleans the table and prepares it for a subsequent service.