At WiseGEEK, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.
The food service industry employs countless employees through a wide range of food service jobs. Many people consider waiters and waitresses to be a great line of work; however, there are many additional food service jobs that must be considered. Some are behind the scenes and some work hand-in-hand with customers. Food service jobs can be found everywhere from rural towns to big cities to tropical resorts, the options are limitless.
As mentioned above, one of the most popular jobs in the food service industry is that of the waiter and the waitress. Taking menu orders, serving food and drinks, preparing checks, and accepting payment are just a few of the tasks. However, their responsibilities can vary greatly depending on where they work. In some places, like casual dining restaurants, their routine may be straightforward; however, in fine dining establishments, they may be required to cater to the whims of their customers and present the meals in an exquisite manner. Sometimes they may need to meet with chefs or restaurant managers to discuss new specials or menu items and other times they may be responsible for seating customers and clearing tables – regardless, they work very hard to ensure a pleasant dining experience.
Bartenders comprise another large group of employees among the food service jobs. They will complete drink orders that are given by customers or by waiters and waitresses. They are also responsible for checking to see if a customer is a legal age to drink alcohol – unless the establishment checks identification cards at the door. Sometimes they will create new drink concoctions or re-create old favorites - having a working knowledge of a wide range of alcohols, beers, and wines is mandatory. In addition, bartenders are often responsible for stocking the bar, preparing fruit and vegetables for garnish, cleaning the bar area, accepting payment, and serving food – if there is a menu available in the bar area.
In some restaurants, a need for hosts and hostesses presents itself. They are responsible for welcoming customers and maintaining a waiting list or a reservation book. Showing customers the coatroom, the restroom, or the waiting area are among the duties of hosts and hostesses. Once a customer’s table is ready, they can lead them to their table and give them their food and drink menus. Sometimes, they must accept money and act as cashiers.
In large restaurants, there are often attendants and helpers, also called backwaiters or runners. They can assist waitresses, waiters, and bartenders by clearing the tables, cleaning any food residue off of the table, and stocking the serving areas with utensils, napkins, and other supplies. They may also bring the food to the customers. In a cafeteria, they may stock the serving areas with trays of food or carry finished plates away from customers.
Counter attendants take menu orders and serve food to customers in coffee shops, carryout establishments, and cafeterias. As the name suggests, they serve the food from behind a counter or a table. In addition, they may clean the serving areas and accept payment from customers. In some places, they may prepare salads or sandwiches, as well.
Other food service jobs are outside of the restaurant, coffee shop, or cafeteria-styled locales. They include those who deliver room service in hotels, meals to patients in hospitals, or food to those homebound. There are also catering companies, amusement parks, casinos, and parks – all which require food service employees. Vacation resorts may offer seasonal work – but, there are often jobs that can be alternated between the winter months and the summer months.