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Who Does What at Your Favorite Restaurant?

by admin on May 2, 2013

Restaurant Staff Job Titles

If you’re considering a career in the restaurant industry, you’ll have to ask yourself some very fundamental questions: Are you quick-thinking and fast-paced? Can you juggle multiple tasks at once, and get them all done successfully? If the answers are an obvious “yes,” then you may just have what it takes.

Another thing you’ll need to decide is this: Which role do you want to play? There are so many restaurant job titles, but if you’re just starting out, you might want to start small, and work your way up through the ranks of a restaurant you admire. That’s exactly how many successful restaurant owners did it; and understanding every facet of the business—inside and out—is a crucial component to a successful restaurateur.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the more universal roles you’ll find in a restaurant.

 Host/Hostess/Maitre ‘D

Most often this will be the first person you encounter when you enter any restaurant. They will take your reservation, and when the time comes, they will bring you to your seat. It may seem like a simple job, but it can be deceptive—this person has to estimate how busy it’s going to be, gauge how long you will spend on your meal, ensure that each server gets an even amount of tables in their section, and a myriad of other subtleties. They have to know if the kitchen is backed up, or if a table ordered dessert, and be able to adjust the floor plan and seating schedule on the fly. Being a good host is equal parts people skills and trigonometry.

TIP: Servers generally tip out 5-6% to hosts at the end of the night.


This is the person whom you, as a paying (and well-tipping) customer, will interact with most. Shortly after you’re seated, they arrive to introduce themselves and perhaps tell you about any specials. They don’t overstay their welcome, and soon go away to give you time to decide. When you “look ready” (a very specific look that involves much more than setting down your menu), they return, pen in hand, to jot down your request. From there, they pop in to check on you, only to make sure your food and drinks are to your liking. From there, they drop off the check. And all the while, they are communicating back and forth with the kitchen about orders and timelines, pushing to get the food to the table at the perfect moment. The best ones can do this with grace and charm, and just make you feel good about your dining experience in general. Every table’s like a first date, so they need a healthy amount of confidence. And they must do this for every single table in their section, timing their arrivals and departures perfectly so that each customer has the amount of attention they need. Being a good server is an art form, with elements of improv, acting, and standup comedy.

TIP:15-20% before tax (if you receive any sort of discount, tip on the pre-discount amount).


Bussers are the unsung heroes of the restaurant industry. The best bussers in the world are like ninjas. Their job, frankly, is to do their job while remaining entirely out of the way. They bring you water, they bring you bread. When you’re low on either, they take care of you in an instant. When your food comes out, they deliver it to your table, and as soon as you’re done, they clear your plates to make room for more. You can ask them anything, and they’ll get you the answer or the solution. They exist as support for the server, so that the server can do their job even better. Have you ever looked down, mid-conversation, and wondered, “Where the heck did my empty plate go?” That’s a good busser.

TIP:Servers tip out 5-10% to bussers at the end of the night.


Who doesn’t love the bartender? If you’re waiting for your table, you can hang out in their domain, where they’ll make the wait more bearable by handing you a drink and, if it’s not too busy, something to snack on. A barstool is a sacred place, akin to a confessional booth, and a good bartender is equal parts soothsayer and confidant. This job is chemistry for therapists with a photographic memory. If a customer bellies up to the bar, the bartender must remember what they were drinking, what their problem was, and what advice they need to hear. If you find yourself a bartender that can do all that, tip well. And never leave.

TIP:15-20% of the tab, or $1 for beer and wine, $2 for mixed drinks.


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