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Waiter / Waitress

Waiters / waitresses (food and beverage servers) typically work in restaurants, coffee shops, or cafeterias (cafeterias in schools, hospitals, large corporate buildings, museums, etc.).  If you are a restaurant waiter/waitress, you will have some clearly defined and repetitive tasks (e.g., taking food orders from customers, serving beverages and meals to customers).

Education

This job sometimes requires a high school diploma and/or a GED certificate.

Previous Experience

Previous experience working the restaurant industry is preferred. Although many employers prefer that you have previous experience in the same or similar area of employment, it is strongly encouraged that you apply anyways.

Job Duties

  • Greet restaurant patrons and serve menus.
  • Describe and promote any daily specials.
  • Take food and beverage orders.
  • Answer any questions about menu items and make recommendations if needed.
  • Pass food orders on to kitchen staff for preparation or enter food orders into a computer system.
  • Serve patrons their meals by carrying food trays to their tables.
  • Serve any beverages requested.
  • Check on patrons regularly, ensuring that they have everything they need and that they are enjoying their meals.
  • Present bills to patrons and collect customer payments by cash, credit cards, debit cards, gift cards, or checks.
  • Use a cash register or computer to ring up customer purchases.
  • Remove used food dishes and glasses from tables.
  • Wipe and set tables or wrap cutlery.
  • Check patrons' identification to ensure that they meet minimum age requirements for consumption of alcoholic beverages.
  • Your employer may also ask you to carry out additional duties than those listed here.

What’s Your Scene?

This job requires that you are able to work ‘In the Scene’. If you are working as a waiter/waitress, you will be working with restaurant patrons on a regular basis.  You will be speaking with and interacting with customers daily and must have relatively strong social skills.  You will also need to interact with co-workers (e.g. other waiters/waitresses, bus boys, cooks) regularly.

Skills / Abilities

Customer Service Skills - You will need to know how to provide excellent customer service.  This includes being able to determine if the customer is satisfied, and to meet their needs. It requires the ability to accept complaints from customers, and to calmly deal with high stress situations and angry customers. Displaying a pleasant and cooperative attitude is important.

Manual Dexterity - This job requires the repeated and coordinated use of your arms, hands, wrists, and fingers to write down orders and balance heavy trays of food or hot plates. 

Cash Handling - This job requires the ability to handle monies and currencies (e.g., coins and bills). You will need to be okay with touching other peoples’ bills and coins.

Mathematics  - You will need to be able to do basic counting quickly and accurately (e.g., addition, subtraction, division).

Oral Expression - You will be required to speak clearly and effectively.

Environmental Demands

Location - Restaurants/cafes are typically indoors, although some restaurants and cafes have outdoor patios, and may require you to serve patrons outside as well as inside. If you do work indoors, it will usually be in a climate-controlled setting.

Noise Level - The noise level will generally be low to moderate, although it can get fairly noisy during busy times (e.g., lunch or supper time).

Lighting Level - Lighting in these settings can be very different, and it will be up to your employer to choose whether they use florescent lighting, dim lighting, or natural lighting.

Work Hours - This job often has shorter working shifts - and you will have to let your employer know what types of shifts you can work (e.g., mornings, afternoons, evenings).

Amount of Movement - This job requires that you stand for long periods of time. You will need to be able to stand, walk, bend, reach, carry, and sometimes lift items for this type of job.

Cleanliness and Odors - You will have to tolerate getting a little messy if you get food or beverages on your clothing, and you will be cleaning tables and chairs after a meal. This job requires helping to maintain a clean work environment (e.g., carrying dirty dishes to the kitchen, wiping tables).

Work Attire - Work attire will typically range from a uniform to business casual clothing.  Some employers will require that you wear certain type of clothing (e.g., white shirt, black pants), a t-shirt with the company logo on it, or an apron.

Structure and Predictability - This job will typically have a lower degree of predictability and structure.  This means that you might not do the same tasks each day, and these tasks might be completed in a different order each day.  You might not always know ahead of time how long each task will take to complete.  You might not work in the same areas each day (e.g., you might have a different section of tables in the restaurant), and you might not interact with the same people (i.e. particularly customers) each day. 

What's the Pace?

    • Steady: In most cases, the work pace will be steady, which means that there will always be 1-2 tables for you to serve. 
    • Peak: There might be other times when the restaurant is very busy and there are 4-6 tables that need to be served.  This may be a more stressful period because customers are waiting for service. 
    • Slow:  There may also be some "down time," when there are very few customers in the restaurant.  This may be a more boring period, where you are required to just wait for something to do.

 
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