Waiting staff

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A waitress in the Samjiyon Pegaebong hotel, North Korea.

Waiting staff, wait staff, waitstaff[1] or serving staff are those who work at a restaurant or a bar, and sometimes in private homes, attending customers—supplying them with food and drink as requested. An individual waiting tables is commonly called a server, waitperson,[2] waitress (females only), waiter (referring to males or either gender), or less commonly the 1980s American neologism waitron.[3][4][5][6] Archaic terms such as serving girl, serving wench, or serving lad are generally used only within their historical context.

Waiting on tables is (along with nursing and teaching) part of the service sector, and among the most common occupations in the United States. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that, as of May 2008, there were over 2.2 million persons employed as servers in the U.S.[7]

Many businesses choose for the people waiting to all wear a uniform, a tradition that has been around in the waiting industry for centuries.

Waitstaff may receive tips as a minor or major part of their earnings, with customs varying widely from country to country.[8]

Duties of waiting staff[edit]

The duties of waiting staff include preparing tables for a meal, taking customers' orders, serving drinks and food, and cleaning up before, after and during servings in a restaurant. Silver service staff are specially trained to serve at banquets or high-end restaurants. They follow specific rules of service and it is a skilled job. They generally wear black and white with a long, white apron (extending from the waist to ankle).

The head server is in charge of the waiting staff, and is also frequently responsible for assigning seating. The functions of a head server can overlap to some degree with that of the Maître d'hôtel. Some restaurants employ busboys or busgirls, increasingly referred to as bussers, to clear dirty dishes, set tables, and otherwise assist the waiting staff.[9][10][11]

Emotional labour is often required by waiting staff,[12] particularly at many high-class restaurants.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Waitstaff." The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004, via dictionary.com website. Retrieved on 17 September 2007.
  2. ^ "Waitperson – Definition and More from the Free Mirriam–Webster Dictionary". Dictionary and Thesaurus – Mirriam–Westbster Online. Mirriam-Webster, Incorporated. Retrieved 22 December 2013. 
  3. ^ "Waitron." Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, via dictionary.com website. Retrieved on 17 September 2007.
  4. ^ Hall, E. J. (1993). "WAITERING/WAITRESSING:: Engendering the Work of Table Servers". Gender & Society 7 (3): 329–346. doi:10.1177/089124393007003002. ISSN 0891-2432. 
  5. ^ Allan, Keith (2007). "The pragmatics of connotation". Journal of Pragmatics 39 (6): 1047–1057. doi:10.1016/j.pragma.2006.08.004. ISSN 0378-2166. 
  6. ^ Siegal, Allan M.; Connolly, William G. (1999). The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage. Three Rivers Press. p. 354. ISBN 978-0-8129-6389-2. 
  7. ^ U.S. Department of Labor - Bureau of Labor Statistics (24 May 2006). "Occupational Employment and Wages - Waiters and Waitresses". US Department of Labor. Retrieved 2006-12-31. 
  8. ^ Reg Butler; Carole French (2011). Tips on Tipping: A Global Guide to Gratuity Etiquette. Bradt Travel Guides. pp. viii–ix. ISBN 978-1-84162-210-1. 
  9. ^ (2004.) "Busboy." The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, Houghton Mifflin Company, via dictionary.com. Retrieved on 19 September 2007.
  10. ^ "Busgirl." Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1), Random House, Inc., via dictionary.com. Retrieved on 19 September 2007.
  11. ^ Schmich, Mary. (24 August 2007.) "Uh, no offense, but do you still say 'busboy'?" Chicago Tribune Web Edition. Retrieved on 19 September 2007.
  12. ^ "Emotional labour: a comparison between fast food and traditional service work". Sciencedirect.com. 2000-06-30. Retrieved 2014-01-22. 

External links[edit]