The Standard Operating Procedures for Waitresses

Written by heather mckinney
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The Standard Operating Procedures for Waitresses
Being a successful waitress requires attention to detail. (job series - silouette waitress image by helenos from

If you have ever been unfortunate enough to have a bad waitress, you know what a damper that puts on the whole experience. Although the duties of a waitress vary slightly from establishment to establishment, there are some standard operating procedures that help to make her a successful server.

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The First Contact

It is important that a waitress approach a newly sat table promptly. It takes only a few minutes for customers to begin fidgeting and getting angry if someone does not acknowledge their presence. If a waitress is in the middle of taking an order or running something to a table, she should take the first opportunity just to stop by the new table and say, in a pleasant tone, "I will be with you shortly."

The Drink Order

The first order a waitress usually takes is a drink order. She usually puts something down on the table to indicate to other servers that the drink order has been taken. Depending on the individual restaurant's procedure, this may mean putting down coasters or a cocktail napkin in front of each person at the table. This is especially important if a section of tables are being worked in pairs or teams. Having more than one server ask for a drink order causes patrons to feel the service is unorganised and tends to irritate them.

The Food Order

When the waitress returns with the drinks, she should then take the food order. This gives the customers a moment to review the menu and decide what they want or to come up with questions about meals that interest them. Depending on the restaurant's policy, you may make recommendations or offer appetizers. Once the waitress takes the table's order, she takes their menus out of the way. She then places the order with the kitchen promptly.

Delivering the Food

You should follow the serving etiquette of your restaurant when bringing food to the table. Some higher end restaurants require waitresses to use a tray for any item being brought to tables. Some more casual dining establishments allow servers to bring items in their hands.

Bringing the Check

When a diner has finished their meal, the waitress should clear the empty plate away and ask if there is anything else they require. If not, she should present the check along with instructions on how to pay. Some restaurants have a cashier that collects the patrons' money, so you point them in the correct direction to pay. Sometimes the waitress processes the payment, she indicates this by saying, "I will be your cashier."

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