Definition and Nature of the Work
Waiters are the men and women who take orders and serve food in restaurants throughout the country. They are usually assigned to serve a certain number of tables (called a station) by the restaurant manager, the host or hostess, or the headwaiter. Waiters give a copy of the restaurant's menu to each customer and sometimes explain how the different meals on the menu are prepared. They write down customers' orders so that the cooks can prepare each dish exactly as requested. When the food is ready, waiters carry it from the kitchen to the tables. Alert waiters remember what each person has ordered and can place the correct dish in front of the person who ordered it. This kind of service assures good tips and brings customers back to the restaurant.
Waiters give constant attention to the guests. They refill coffee cups and water glasses and ask if guests want to order anything else. They also record the food and drink prices on the guests' checks. When guests are ready to leave, waiters take the checks to the tables. In some restaurants waiters handle guests' payments for meals; in others guests take their checks directly to the cashier.
There are many different kinds of restaurants, and the work of waiters varies accordingly. In fine, elegant restaurants, waiters are supervised by a headwaiter and must serve food in special, formal ways. Many high-end restaurants offer a specific style of cooking—they may feature French, Greek, Italian, Japanese, or some other specialized cuisine. Quite often waiters in these restaurants speak the appropriate language when describing each dish.
A completely different working atmosphere exists in other restaurants. Some waiters work in cocktail lounges and nightclubs where alcoholic beverages are A waiter prepares a table before customers sit down. (© Steve Chenn/Corbis.) served. In small restaurants waiters are expected to perform many additional duties. They clean tables, clear dishes, and set the tables with clean tablecloths, napkins, silverware, glasses, and cups. Sometimes they do preparation work that includes filling salt, pepper, and sugar containers. They may also stock glasses and silverware where they can be reached easily during a rush period. In large restaurants dining room attendants usually perform these tasks.
Because people often eat in restaurants during their leisure hours, waiters must be prepared to work evenings, weekends, and some holidays. The hours may be irregular, so many waiters work part time.
Education and Training Requirements
There are no formal education requirements for waiters; however, employers prefer to hire people who have a high school education. Basic skills in arithmetic are mandatory. A neat appearance and pleasant manner are also desirable.
Some vocational schools offer training, but most waiters learn their skills on the job. Fine restaurants like to hire people who have had experience or formal training. Candidates with little experience can accept jobs as dining room attendants and work toward a promotion. In certain restaurants waiters must have special skills, such as fluency in a foreign language or knowledge of formal table service. http://careers.stateuniversity.com/pages/526/Waiter.html