Job Description for Server
A server works in a restaurant or bar, acting as the go-between from the guests at a table and the kitchen or bartender. He or she takes orders, delivers food and beverages, and helps ensure quality standards. In many establishments, the server also furnishes a bill and facilitates payment for the guests.Read More...
For most restaurants at the high end of casual service and above, servers are expected to act in a dual role as salespersons and customer service agents. They are expected to have extensive product knowledge and offer suggestions and upsells to guests while tableside, and then they must be the first line of defense to ensure the quality of food and beverage served to patrons. If the customer is dissatisfied with any aspect of their purchase, the server is the first person to take that complaint and attempt a resolution that meets or exceeds the guest’s expectations. The server must adhere to all of their restaurant's service standards and execute those standards in a cheerful manner. Servers normally also work to help ensure the cleanliness of their facility; in most cases, this involves continual cleaning to ensure their work areas are as clean as possible.
This line of work requires the employee to be constantly standing or walking, frequently for extended hours during the day. It also can be a high-pressure environment, and most servers find that organization and quick thinking are the most important job skills for this position.
Most restaurants require their servers to undergo both initial and continuing education training on product, sales, and service techniques. Restaurants in upscale service and fine dining also normally require prior serving experience in casual or chain dining environments.
Servers in the U.S. normally earn less than minimum wage as base pay (depending on the region), but do earn tipped income from guests that they may be required to share with support personnel such as bussers and food runners. Servers' work hours depend on the hours of the facility in which they work; in many cases, servers work weekends (which are the busiest times for some restaurants) and holidays.
- Present check for payment and provides change as needed.
- Take food and beverage orders, give food orders to kitchen and deliver orders.
- Maintain table appearance by pre-bussing, check drink levels and remove clutter.
- Keep station clean, set up and take down station tables appropriately.
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Popular Employer Salaries for Server
Well-known firms with a reputation for hiring numerous Servers include Olive Garden Restaurants, Denny's, Applebee's Neighborhood Grill and Bar, Pizza Hut, Inc., and Buffalo Wild Wings, Inc. The Cheesecake Factory, Inc. does shell out the biggest paychecks — the median in that office is $34K — but the company pay scale is greatly mixed, meaning that workers on the low end may earn only $22K while workers on the upper end may rake in up to $49K. Those in search of high salaries should also consider Chili's Grill & Bar, Outback Steakhouse, Inc., and Buffalo Wild Wings, Inc., top-paying firms where Servers rake in a decent $29K, $26K, or $25K, respectively.
With a reported median salary of only $14K, Pizza Hut, Inc. easily takes the cake for lowest-paying firm in town; earnings are less than half of the top paying employer's rate. Other low-paying employers include Waffle House, Inc. at $16K and Cracker Barrel Old Country Store at $18K, though some Servers there earn up to $36K.
Pay by Experience Level for Server
Median of all compensation (including tips, bonus, and overtime) by years of experience.
Relatively untried employees who have less than five years' experience make $20K, but folks with five to 10 years under their belts enjoy an appreciably larger median of $25K. After working for 10 to 20 years, Servers make a median salary of $28K. Survey respondents who have worked for more than 20 years actually report somewhat lower incomes of $23K.
Pay Difference by Location
For Servers, working in the bustling city of San Francisco has its advantages, including an above-average pay rate. Servers will also find cushy salaries in Seattle (+72 percent), New York (+62 percent), Los Angeles (+56 percent), and Las Vegas (+38 percent). Falling short of the national average by 12 percent, the area with the worst salaries is Tampa. Atlanta and San Antonio are a couple other places where companies are known to pay below the median — salaries are 9 percent lower and 8 percent lower, respectively.