How to Be an Amazing Server

A Beginner's Guide

This is a lot to take in at once, so I apologize in advance. Just try to take in what you need/want. 

  1. First things first, they are guests in the restaurant, not just customers. Treat them like you would treat a guest.
  2. Give people a warm greeting as they enter the restaurant. 
  3. Seat guests even if the rest of their party isn't there yet. 
  4. If a person enters alone, don't make them feel bad for being alone. Simply ask if they have a reservation. If they don't have one, ask if they want to sit at the bar. 
  5. Tables should be level before guests arrive. Try to fix this or any similar problems ahead of time. 
  6. Try not to be biased towards tap water vs. bottled water. Both are fine. 
  7. Don't just walk up to them and ask what they would like to order. First, start with something more simple, like asking them how they are doing that day. Be friendly, then ask what they would like to eat.
  8. Some places want you to announce your name, some places don't. I guess just ask your supervisor. 
  9. Do not interrupt the guests' conversations. 
  10. When the customer approaches, make sure to acknowledge them by greeting them nicely. 
  11. Apologize for any wait, even if it was a short wait. 
  12. Tell them about the specials that are on right now. Make it sound natural. Don't recite them like this is the 100th time you've said them today... even if it is the 100th time you've said them today.
  13. Don't mention your personal favourites when telling them the specials. I am personally guilty of this one and the guests will tell you they weren't looking for that information. 
  14. Never say, "Good choice," because it implies that any other choices may be bad. 
  15. Don't say, "no problem." Say, "you're welcome" instead. "My pleasure," seems to be a popular choice as well. 
  16. Never mention what your favourite dessert is. They probably don't want to know. 
  17. Do not compliment a customer on their hair, clothes, or anything else. You are insulting someone else. 
  18. Do not gossip about co-workers or guests within earshot of any guests. Better yet, don't gossip at all.
  19. Ask the customer if they found everything all right. 
  20. Handle glassware by stems and cutlery by their handles.
  21. Ask them "How is everything?" and fix the problem if there is any. 
  22. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you don't know the answer to a question... this phrase will save you: "I'll find out." 
  23. Never use the same glass for a second drink. 
  24. Bring the cutlery before you bring the food. 
  25. Don't let a glass of water sit empty for too long. But don't make the same mistake I did and fill a glass of water every two minutes... It either makes them nervous or annoyed.
  26. Don't blame the chef, or the hostess, or anyone else if something goes wrong. Just make it right.
  27. If someone wants to know your life story, keep it short. 
  28. Never deliver a hot plate without warning the guest. 
  29. Try to let the guest know you are out of something before they look at the menu. 
  30. Never acknowledge one customer more than any other. All guests are equal. So, no favourites. 
  31. When bringing the food, don't ask whose food is whose. Know who to give it to before you approach the table. 
  32. Do not go to work smelling like perfume or cigarette smoke. 
  33. Never remove a plate full of food without asking them what was wrong. Obviously something went wrong. 
  34. Do not eat or drink in view of guests. 
  35. Do not turn on the charm when it's time to get your tip. Keep your amazing service consistent throughout the entire time.
  36. Ask the guest if they want coffee with their dessert. Or just a coffee after the meal. 
  37. Never bring the check until someone asks for it. Then bring it to the person who asked for it. 
  38. Do not stop giving excellent service after the check is paid.
  39. Here is something I have messed up on. Remember that the music is for the guests, not for the staff. If they want the music turned down, you can turn it down a little... or ask the supervisor to turn it down a little. 
  40. Give them a bag with their take-out.
  41. This one takes time to figure out. Don't hover over a customer too long because it can make them anxious, especially when they are dealing with the bill or trying figure out how much 15 percent of the bill is. 
  42. Don't wear too much jewelry. You know it is too much when people comment on it. 
  43. Know the Menu! Ask what they want for their side choice (if the meal comes with a side). 
  44. Sign your name with a heart on the receipt. I guess this really only works if you want to be flirtatious... which you're not suppose to be ... 
  45. Don't say anything after a tip except "thank you" and "thank you very much." If they don't tip, don't say anything at all. 

As Bill Gates has said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”

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