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Service Points Every Cafe Employee Must Hit

Best Practives for Good Service

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All restaurants, both formal and casual, must offer good service. Teach your wait staff to hit these service points and you will enjoy repeat business while your servers enjoy bigger tips.

Serve Water in the Restaurant

Unless you own a restaurant in an area that suffers from drought, not bringing glasses of water when customers are seated says one thing: cheap. People should not have to ask for water; teach your staff to bring water to tables when they greet the customers.

How to Recite Specials

Servers tell their tables about the specials. Best practice is to memorize the specials, not read them on notepaper. Servers must understand that “reciting” specials is not a soliloquy; they must talk to their customers. Teach servers not to rush through the specials, to pronounce words clearly, and to pay attention to customers and answer any questions asked. This is a conversation, not a monologue.

Take a Drink Order

Before leaving the table, servers must offer to take a drink order. Some patrons may not know what they want yet and will not want to be rushed. Good servers take the attitude that the customer may order when ready.

Taking Food Orders

Taking the meal order correctly may be the most important part of service. Teach servers to write down seat numbers and the entire order. Drill them to write down temperatures of meat, which salad dressing, and what should be served on the side. Efficiency is key.

When to Bring Bread to a Table

Bread is as important a part of hospitality at dinner as a glass of water. Some restaurants serve bread right away; others wait to serve bread until after the dinner order is taken. (This is to encourage hungry customers to order food.) If you choose to the do the latter in your restaurant, train servers to bring bread early if it is requested. Otherwise, they can bring bread after taking the dinner order.

Good Customer Service During the Meal

After the plates are delivered, the servers are still working. Don’t let your wait staff disappear while their tables are eating. Servers should visit the table shortly after delivering food to ask “How is everything?” It will either be fine or a customer will request something; for example, extra cheese. If there is a real problem, this is the server’s opportunity to communicate with the kitchen and potentially fix it.

Water glasses should not be allowed to sit empty. Servers can walk by tables with a water pitcher and offer to refill half-full glasses.

Clearing Tables

Sadly, the best practice for clearing dishes between courses has been lost even in nicer restaurants. Professional, well-trained servers do not clear until everyone at the table has finished eating. This is to allow the slowest eaters the time they need to finish. Grabbing plates from underneath people while they are chewing the last morsel is sloppy, inconsiderate, and a sure sign that what the restaurant cares about is turning the table.

The only time a plate should be cleared in the middle of the course is when a customer requests it.

When and How to Drop the Check

At one time checks were not delivered until asked for. This remains the opinion of some but not of others and if servers wait to be asked some patrons will feel forgotten and become annoyed.

Technically, it is correct etiquette in the United States to drop the check any time after dessert has been delivered. However, it is inadvisable for a server to place the check on the table right after delivering dessert because it sends the message that the patrons are to hurry up and leave.

Train your servers to either drop the check during dessert and say, “at your convenience,” or wait until the patrons have finished and say, “May I bring you anything else?” The latter is best practice but the former is perfectly acceptable.

Written by: Beth Taylor

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