General Question

sliceswiththings's avatar

What advice do you have for first-time waitstaff?

Asked by sliceswiththings (11661points) April 27th, 2010

I will be waiting tables for the first time this summer, and I am looking for tips from those with experience. Thanks!

It’s a pretty casual breakfast/lunch cafe, if that helps.

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15 Answers

njnyjobs's avatar

Be courteous to everyone, not only the customers… listen very carefully and follow your trainer. Learn about the food/drinks being offered. Be proactive. Don’t take things personally, it’s a job….but a remember that it is a service-oriented job.

El_Cadejo's avatar


I know there will be times where you will be so far in the weeds and everything looks like disaster, but dont panic. Take a deep breath, relax, and think back to what you were taught. You will be fine. Waiting tables isnt a hard job at all, but it can be if you dont know how to keep your cool.

When you panic its like quick sand. At first your just stuck a little, then you squirm and it just gets worse and worse. Suddenly you’re in over your head and you dont know how you got there or how the hell to even get out of this mess.

chels's avatar

Don’t get discouraged if you get tables that are moody/grumpy. It happens. The really wonderful tables will balance out the shitty ones.

iphigeneia's avatar

I don’t wait tables, I’m usually behind the counter, but I will say, do not be afraid to clarify something with the customer if you are not sure. Try to listen and remember, but having to ask again is better than bringing the wrong dish out. Keep on checking on the whole restaurant: is there someone who appears to be seeking assistance/tables that need to be cleared, etc? Customers are people first and customers second. Also, smile and speak loudly and clearly. It’s all common sense, and it gets easier with practice.

El_Cadejo's avatar

If a customer ever has a question about something and you’re not sure GO ASK! A customer will respect the fact that you dont know and are trying to find out for them, rather than just lie to their face about whatever it is in order to sound smart.

kevbo's avatar

The best waiters are comfortable in their own skin and are attuned to the customer’s pace, whether that means giving them extra time to order because they can’t make up their mind or not interrupting their conversations incessantly with your need to check in with them. They also keep the refills coming, have personal favorites to recommend when the customer asks their opinion, and clear the table of finished plates promptly.

mcbealer's avatar


It goes a long way and will put your guests at ease. I always appreciate servers who refill my water during the meal (which is usually all I drink with meals) and who keep an eye on what’s going on without being overbearing or interrupting the conversation at the table needlessly.

jfos's avatar

Don’t walk around the establishment with a death face and then throw on a huge smile when you reach your table. People notice this—it makes you seem fake, and you will be less likely to earn good tips this way.

jaytkay's avatar

Learn the menu. I worked at a place where we had to write out the menu by hand, from memory, before we were allowed on the floor. So we started out with tremendous confidence.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Yea, knowing the menu is extremely helpful. It will make you much more knowledgeable to your customers who will be more inclined to tip you.

If you have a really good memory, you can after time just start memorizing peoples orders. This really impresses people, but just know going into it, if you fuck up because you didnt write anything down, you’re done.

jaytkay's avatar

Oh yeah, @uberbatman is right. Wriite down every order, I wouldn’t try to memorize orders until you’re more experienced.

Always write them in the same order. Say clockwise, starting with the seat closest to the door. Then you don’t have to say “who had the BLT?” when delivering the food.

You can make great money waiting tables, if you increase the tips. Good luck!

zephyr826's avatar

Be willing to ask for help from your coworkers. It would be wonderful if you could always attend to every one of your tables’ needs, but sometimes that isn’t possible. If you see another server who isn’t busy, and you’re swamped, be willing to ask them for a hand. In the same way, be willing to help the rest of the staff. If you notice that someone needs something, step up. You’re all on the same team here.

Oh, and begin the quest for comfy shoes now. Don’t be afraid to spend a little money on them, because bad shoes can break your day. :)

Nullo's avatar

Smile, be friendly. You are glad to see everybody.
Refrain from chattering.

unique's avatar

wear comfortable shoes.

sliceswiththings's avatar

Thanks a lot, everyone!

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