So You Want To Be A Waiter

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Menu loyalty

What does this mean and what does it mean to a waiter?

Basically it means using your menu knowledge in order to build guest loyalty.

It’s loyalty to the menu from the waiter which in turn builds guest loyalty to the menu and, by extention, to the restaurant. while service is generally considered to trump the food in a restaurant (this verified by countless surveys and studies in the industry), the food is still where the rubber meets the road.

When the waiter can communicate the passions of those who create the food through their hard labor, they complete the package. Not only do they represent the Chef and his crew, they also represent the guest in that they can act as a guide to offer the exact meal that satisfies the guest. Too many waiters take a passive approach and this does no service to the guest, the kitchen and the restaurant itself.

By knowing the menu and the components that create the synergy of a meal, the great waiter acts as a tour guide and consultant – the goal is to match the guest’s preferences, biases, and intention with the menu. When you can identify those needs of the guest and pull from an extensive menu the perfect meal, the waiter performs the ultimate service. It isn’t enough to act as entertainer, babysitter and order taker. To put the cherry on top of the sundae, the waiter must discover the perfect meal hidden in that menu.

How does the waiter do that?

By creative and accurate descriptions of the food through “selling the sizzle”, answering questions about exotic ingredients, identifying potential landmines such as allergies, dislikes, and, dare I say it, weaknesses in certain dishes. they do it by highlighting standout performers, using descriptive and mouthwatering adjectives and passing along an enthusiam for the food and talent of those who have created the food.

You can only do this is you have a mastery of everything that goes into each dish. Once you gain this knowledge, you can effortless communicate the quality of your menu offerings, whether it be the humble hamburger or the most elaborate iconic dish. You bring your knowledge to bear in order to bring the menu to life.

Never let your responsibility in this regard lie fallow.


Waiters are often confronted with the issue of vegetarianism.

I’m sure the term “issue” would be considered a pejorative term by vegetarians of all stripes. And I sympathize. But it’s the “all stripes” part that makes it an “issue”.

So, let’s stipulate that I’m not calling vegetarianism itself the issue, only the different ways that people categorize themselves as vegetarians and how restaurants that don’t primarily cater to vegetarians accomodate those that have different needs than what the menu was designed for.

This was brought home to me just last night.

I had a guest who said that she was vegetarian and wondered if we had something other than seafood or meat as an appetizer. We have a side dish that we can prepare that would work great in that context. The thing is, there’s cheese on it. So I asked her, “Is cheese a problem”? She said no. So I mentioned this special side dish that we can do and that I’ve incorporated into my normal spiel. I also asked if she’d simply like a small plate of freshly steamed or grilled vegetables. She said that she would get back to me.

What was her final choice?

Crab cake.

Yes, my head literally supn 360 degrees on my shoulders and driblets of pea soup starting dotting the walls.

In the next post, we’ll explore the different levels of vegetarianism.

After that, we’ll talk about ways that you as a waiter can help a vegetarian of any stripe receive at least an acceptable meal.

So stay tuned kids – excitement will ensue.

Thanks to for this nice image.