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Sequence Of Service In Restaurant

The Sequence Of Service In Restaurant

Courtesy is one of the most essential aspects of restaurant service, so is a degree of formality, especially in upmarket operations. Efforts must be made to ensure a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere with a warm, friendly and efficient service provided with politeness.

The sequence of service is referred to as the order in which a waiter provides service to guests from the time the guest enters the restaurant to the time he leaves the restaurant. Preparation to deliver satisfying service begins before the guest steps into the restaurant with activities like handling reservation, allocation of the table, F&B service, farewell etc… Once the guest arrives in the restaurant there is a certain sequence that is followed to make his/ her meal experience pleasant.

1. Handling Reservation & Allocation of tables:

Reservations are accepted in fine dining or specialty restaurants; coffee shop does not accept reservations. Following points must be noted down while taking down a reservation:

  • Name of the guest

  • No. of pax

  • Time of reservation

  • Contact number and name of the booker

  • Any special request/ requirement

  • Table preference

Reservations of the day are discussed during the briefing prior to meal period; allocation of the tables is done at this time. Allocation of the table is done prior to the arrival of the guest and a note of the same is made on the reservation register, so that;

  • The guests can be seated on the appropriate table, as per request or occasion.

  • All restaurant staff is aware of the same, thereby eliminating confusion and ensuring smooth and professional welcome.

  • Ensuring optimum seating levels in the restaurant.

2. Welcoming The Guest:

However the restaurant staff may seek spontaneity and friendliness, certain rituals are a must while welcoming a guest to the restaurant.

As the guest enters a restaurant, he/ she must be greeted cordially and must be made to feel comfortable. Usually this task is performed by the hostess of the restaurant, however, is not just restricted to her. It is for each and every restaurant staff to see to it that the guest is greeted within 30 seconds of arriving in the restaurant.

Guest must be greeted with a clear and affable tone of voice, good appearance and a smile. Every guest must be welcomed with the greeting of the day, i.e. Good Morning/ Good afternoon/ Good Evening.

If the guest is regular then must be greeted with name, i.e. ‘Good morning Mr. David’. Greeting phrases differ from restaurant to restaurant. In ethnic restaurants, the guest is greeted in the national/ regional greeting.

In case the restaurant staff is busy serving other guests, they must ensure that even though they may not be physically free to welcome guest, they must acknowledge their presence by a smile or a gesture to say “We will be with you in a minute”. Never ignore the guests.

Find out if the guest has a reservation:

If yes -> Then escort them to their table and address them by their name, should they not be satisfied with the table then offer alternatives.

If No -> then ask them for their preference of table and escort them to the table. Guest should be led to their table, if there is a gesture towards the table, it must be done with an open palm facing upwards rather than pointing a finger on to the table.

3. Seating the guest:

  • It is guests’ prerogative to choose where they want to sit or where their host would like them to sit.

  • Ladies must be seated first.

  • Seating the guest on a chair Stands straight 9-12” behind the guests’ chair.

  • Bring the right foot forward, with the knee touching the wooden skirting of the seat in the middle. Hold the chair from both the hands from the sides of the back.

  • Lift the chair about 1’’ from behind and pull it back, ensuring that there is adequate space for the guests to go between the table and chair.

  • When the guest proceeds to sit down, move the chair slowly towards the guest, till it is comfortable for the guest and rest the chair of the floor.

  • It must be ensured that the chair is not dragged.

  • Seating the guest on a sofa If space is not sufficient for the guests to move in, move the table outside and place it back in position as soon as the guests have sat down.

  • If the table is heavy then the waiter must ask for assistance from his colleagues, under no circumstances the guests’ help should be sought.

4. Pouring water:

As soon as the guests are seated, the waiter must pour water. Guests’ must be asked for their preference of water (regular, mineral, aerated, spring water) and while pouring water following points must be kept in mind:

  • Regular water poured from a water jug Jug should be clean with sufficient water for the number of people on the table.

  • Should be cold and room temperature as per the guest’s requirement.

  • Should be carried on an underliner or with a waiters’ cloth neatly folded to ensure that the condensed water does not drip on the table.

  • Water must be served from the right-hand side, ladies must be served first.

  • Glasses must only be refilled when they are two-thirds empty.

  • Mineral water poured from the bottle Seal must be opened in front of the guest.

  • Should be carried in a cane basket and after pouring can be placed back on the table.

  • However, must be ensured that the service of water is done by the staff and not be the guests themselves.

  • Guests must be checked with, before opening a new bottle.

5. Order taking:

Aperitif card must be presented to take drink order prior to presenting food menu. Unless the food has been pre-ordered, as soon as the guests are seated, they must be presented with the menu card.

  • Presenting a menu card Present individual menu cards to the guests.

  • Menu card must be presented from the right-hand side, open to the first page.

  • Give 5-7 minutes to the guests to go through the menu.

  • Check with the guests if they are ready to place the order, by inquiring “ May I take your order Sir/ Madam” or “ Are you ready to place your order Sir/ Madam”? Stand straight at a position where it is convenient to talk to the guests.

  • Assist the guest in choosing the best dish on offer, use ‘suggestive selling’ or ‘upselling’ techniques.

  • Takedown the order systematically on KOT (Kitchen Order Ticket) After taking order, repeat the order.

  • Take menu card back from the guests and put it back in place.

  • Inform the guests of the approximate time it would take to serve the food.

6. Service of Food and Beverage orders

Service of Beverage:

  • Beverages are served first.

  • Always serve beverages from the right of the guest.

  • While the guests are waiting for their meal, bread and butter must be served immediately.

  • Waiting staff must ensure that the same is replenished as soon as it is over.

  • The guest should not have to ask for it.

  • Before serving the food the waiters must ensure that the cover is appropriate, should it need to be changed then it must be done before the food comes to the table.

  • This must be done discreetly, ensuring minimum intrusion and disturbance to guest and with minimum cluttering. Food order must be announced before the service.

The sequence of serving guest is as following:

  1. Guest of honour is served first.

  2. A lady in the party takes precedence over the male guest of honour.

  3. Ladies must be served before Gentlemen.

  4. Older people are served before younger ones.

  5. The host must be served last.

Service of food:

  • Pre-plated service of food must be from the right-hand side.

  • Once the food is placed the covers must be adjusted if the tableware is disturbed.

  • Platter to plate or silver service must be from the left-hand side.

  • Service of each course should be co-ordinated in a manner that the guests do not have to wait for a long time between the courses.

  • Guest must be asked whether the food is up to their expectation.

  • It must not happen that in enthusiasm, 3-4 people go to the guest to ask if ‘everything is alright’! This may irritate the guest and may be an intrusion on his privacy.

  • Water and other food items must be served/ replenished as soon as it is over.

  • Before removing anything from the tale, seek guest’s permission.

7. Clearance

  • Used plates are cleared from the right-hand side.

  • Plates are cleared after all the guests on the table have finished their meal.

  • Indication for closing the meal is done by placing a knife and fork together across the plate.

  • Clearance is done by the right hand and collected on the left hand, by the ‘first plate’ technique.

  • Ensure that all the dishes are cleared from the table.

  • Ensure that that cruet set, butter dish, bread boat, cutlery unused by the guest is removed from the table.

  • Do not remove bud vase ashtray and glasses from the table.

  • All dirties should be taken for dishwashing except cruet set, which must be left on the side station.

8. Crumbing

  • Crumbing is done to remove spills or crumbs on the table after a course or after the main course, prior to dessert being served.

  • Carried out by a crumbing spade, crumbing brush or on a B&B plate with a waiters’ cloth and a B&B knife to pick up gravies that might have fallen on the tablecloth.

  • Begin crumbing from the left-hand side, holding the plate on the left hand just under the tabletop; gently sweep the crumbs on to the plate.

  • Open the dessertspoon and dessert fork.

  • Bad stains can be covered with a clean white napkin.

9. Dessert order/ Tea Coffee Order

Similar procedure as order taking a waiter can take the opportunity to suggest Liqueurs or and other digestive as this time.

10. Presenting the check

  • Checks must be presented only when asked.

  • The waiter must bring the check-in a neat and tidy folder.

  • Guest comment card should be in the folder.

  • A pen must be given along with the check folder.

  • When the guest is leaving the folder must be removed very discreetly.

  • Tips must never be solicited (ask for or try to obtain).

11. Guest Feedback

Taking the Feedback from the guest about the food and service.

12. Farewell

  • This is as crucial as welcoming the guest.

  • Guest must be helped in getting up by pulling out the chair for them.

  • Should be assisted with coats/ shawls.

  • Must be thanked, Must be welcomed again. Eg: "Look forward to welcoming you back to the restaurant”, “We hope that you visit us soon”.


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Authored and managed by Augustine, a hotelier with over 20 years of experience in the industry. He has a 3-year diploma with 'honors' from the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute and a Bachelor of Computer Application - BCA Degree.