HOW TO SERVE LARGE GROUPS AS A WAITER!
Hi guys, here we are talking about serving a group of 10, 20 or 40 people in the restaurant
not in banquet!
Let say on your station today you have a group of 42 people who are seated on 7 tables of 6!
Your manager gives you the papers and tells you “I want perfect service. This group is very important to us!”
I will go through the whole procedure not only taking the orders and so, because the preparation process
is more important than anything! It is so to say “Half the battle!”
Check the menu and make sure you know everything about the items on it!
Prepare your tables with the necessary silverware and glasses!
Usually if it is group they have a choice of appetizer or soup, fish or meat and dessert for a normal business dinner!
Check if there is already info on the papers for people with allergies and people with special requests! Usually does!
There are always people who cannot eat this or that and also vegetarians or vegans who has to eat something completely different!
This very important for you because it might screw your whole evening if the guests start telling you in the last moment I am allergic
of this and I cannot eat that!
Let the kitchen knows immediately how many special requests and what allergies your guests have so they can prepare themselves too!
You have set your station and you are ready to go! If they have pre ordered the wines you have few bottles uncorked, water is on the table
and if you have fish as a option you have prepared fish knives on a tray so you can change the steak knives with fish knives!
when the guests come they are usually very talkative and they don’t pay attention to you and to the menu cards on the table!
Give them a minute but as soon as you see that one of the tables is full or almost full you move on with the wines welcome them, introduce
yourself, point the menu cards to them and start pouring wine in their glass!
-Ladies and Gentlemen, good evening and welcome to Grand Victoria. My name is Ned and I will be taking care of you tonight so anything you need
please let me know! If someone has food allergies I would like to know that please!
You have the menus in front of you. Please take a look at it and make your choice for the dinner! I will be back in a moment to
take your orders! Meanwhile may I pour some wine for you? I have a light fruity Riesling as a white wine and full body, barrique Cabernet Sauvignon for red!
-May I have a beer sir?
This is a sublime moment in our job! When we serve groups we group things together so we can handle more people and more tasks at once!
If you in this moment drop what are you doing and go get a beer for this one guest you will lose the handle of it and probably make a mess of the evening!
-Yes sir, I will bring a beer for you as soon as I can! – write the order down so you don’t forget and
keep pouring wines for the other guests!
It is almost 100% sure that some other guests will ask you for a beer as well or other drink and you will just say the same think for him or her!
If you find a break between moving from one table to the other you can punch in the drinks in the PC so they don’t have to wait too long! If not,
you finish the wine service and then you go and punch all the extra drink orders in the computer!
Next thing is to find the head of the group and ask if they want breaks between the meals or any other special desire!
You don’t want to be surprise in the last moment with a speach when you have already cleared the appetizers and the main course is ready to be served!
You are ready to take the food orders now!
If you have 7 tables you should have 7 pieces of paper. one for each table and you should know exactly which seat is number one and which is number six!
Serving groups is a very easy thing when you are well prepared and you know what are you doing!
-Ladies and Gentlemen I would like to take your orders at this time and once again, please let me know if you have any allergies or special requests!
You ask for special requests only if you are allow to by the kitchen chef and your manager! We don’t want those guests to go crazy and start order items that
have nothing to do with the menu they have set in advance! If the chef has said: NO SPECIAL REQUESTS!!! you don’t mention it and if a guest tries to
get something other than the pre ordered menu you tell them:
-I am sorry sir/madam but the menu as pre ordered and I have no ifno for special requests! It will be hard to substitute items at this time!
-Well, but I don’t eat meat and fish is not something I really enjoy!
-I will see what could be done but I can’t promise anything. What would you like to have instead?
-I like chicken!
-Fried or grilled – try to get as many details as possible. You don’t want to run between the kitchen and the station for this one guest and freak the chef out and
yourself off course!
-Ok, sir/madam, I will talk to the chef and we will see what the kitchen could prepare for you. If chicken is not available would you like to take
the fish, since you don’t eat meat or you prefer vegetarian dish?
-No I will take the fish but I really hope you can prepare a chicken!
-We will do our best, sir/madam!
-Certainly. You are welcome!
You write the special request and move on to the next guest and next table! if someone during this time asks you for a drink or anything else you again
write it down but keep going with your main task – taking the orders. If you have a back up waiter you can give them the drink order and they will take care of this!
You go to all 7 tables and you take the food orders and run to the kitchen!
Now usually the chef wants to know the total of meals not how they are separated by tables but the expo man wants to know the exact orders table by table so
he can send the food in orderly manner! So you count the soups, the appetizers and the different main courses and give it to the chef with question about the special order.
If the chef says it is possible. Make sure that the chicken is served as a last plate on the station! Tell the chef you want to bring it on the table when all other
guests are served! If you bring the chicken first you will have other people what is this and can I have this as well instead of fish! You don’t want that!
Next thing is the allergies order! Make sure those are the first plates that come to the tables and they should be given directly to you so you can serve them to the right guests
without mistakes or yelling from your runners: WHO IS THE ALLERGY GUY???
After you have send the order in the kitchen you go back to the station and start preparing the proper silverware for every guests!
If the guest has soup, you leave the soup on the table and remove the appetizer cutlery and vice versa. If they have fish, you remove the steak knife and put a fish knife!
This is very important procedure not only for the etiquette but also for the serving process!
When everything is set up and the food is ready, you tell the runners: soup goes to the guests with soup spoons on the table and the appetizers where there is no soup spoon!
If your restaurant has established seat point system this won’t be necessary but most restaurants don’t and plus when you have a groups the tables are usually moved around and the
seats are completely different than usual so the runners can get confused! So tell them to follow the silverware and everything is going to be served on its place!
In case you have three main courses like fish, meat and vegetarian the runners won’t be able to make a difference between vegetarian and meat judging on the silverware so
what I do is I tell the chef to send me first the vegetarian meals (they are usually lower numbers) so I can place them myself on the table and then let the runners do the rest!
When everyone is served we can only pour some more wine, water and take care of the other drink orders!
We clear the tables when all the guests are done on one table ( in rear occasions we have to wait till all the guests in the room are done but this is for some very special events)
When all the tables are cleared we can proceed with serving the next meal! Your task is to assure that all the guests have the proper silverware in front of them! Sometimes the guests
use the main course silverware for the appetizers so we have to put the right knife or fork on the table! If you are serving fish, make sure to change the steak knife with
fish knife ( if it is not done already) so the food runners know where to serve fish and where to serve steaks!
Once we start to serve the food all other requests are put aside and will be fulfill once all the guests are served.
When the guests are through with their main course we clear the plates, the side dishes, the silverware, bread baskets and salt and paper shakers.
The only thing we leave on the table is the dessert silverware and we bring that from the top down to the sides of the guests as fork goes left and the spoon goes right!
While waiting for the kitchen to prepare desserts we ask our guests about coffee or other drinks they might wish!
If you have 7 tables don’t take the order from all seven at once! Coffee takes time to prepare and it should be served hot so maximum two tables at a time and you send the order in so
the barkeeper can start preparing the drinks and then you move to the next table or two tables!
When dessert is cleared you collect everything away from the table except the glasses and the cups and ask your guests for digestives: grappa, limoncello, snaps or something else!
I suggest you start controlling your bill and make sure everything is correct once you start serving the desserts. Groups are sometimes difficult with paying! It could be paid by
one person but it could as well be paid by everyone separate! Make sure to clear that in advance so you can prepare the bills as soon as dessert is served!
Remember that those people are there to enjoy an evening together and they are not going to follow some rules or worry about your timing! Don’t show your frustration with some
stupid untimely requests! Be positive, energetic and friendly and you will feel that they will respond with the same to you!
This is all it takes to serve a large party! Experience helps a lot but knowledge is vital as well so learn it and try to follow those steps and you will be fine!
For more knowledge sign up for the Online Waiter Training Class at the Waiter’s Academy
Best of luck!