Give You and the Guest Time

When carrying out the dinner service I find it impolite to rush people through their meal. Like having their entree arrive while they are still eating their appetizer. Nothing worse than making the guests feel rushed and hurried like you want them out the door.

If the guest has ordered something hot like a French Onion Soup give ample time for them to enjoy it and you time to clear it before the next course arrives. Look at the tickets on the pass before ordering that rare cooked steak. If there is no line hold back a few minutes before punching that steak in or that steak will come out pronto while that onion soup is still not finished. Chefs and expos don’t like when they send out food only for it to be returned because the guest was only halfway through their appetizers.

The reverse is true when the line is long. To avoid the guest waiting and waiting , I will send that well done steak through to the kitchen even before they have received that French Onion Soup on a super busy night. But don’t forget to check the appy pass either. You may have to wait 10 minutes for that onion soup. Will that affect the arrival time of your entree?

Same goes for appetizers. If you have a big table and they are having all kinds of appetizers wait till they get those appetizers before punching in the entrees. Give yourself time to get some more drinks , clear the appetizers , put new cutlery down , and give your guests a break in between courses. A big table can wait 10-12 minutes before their main course arrives because they will be chatting amongst themselves.

A table of two you may only want them waiting between 3-5 minutes before getting their next course.

The big thing I want to emphasize is give yourself time by thinking about what the guest has ordered and how long will it take for them to eat it once they receive it. Give yourself time to clear afterwards.

You have got to control the flow. Only you know what is going on in your section not the kitchen. The kitchen will just go ahead and cook whatever you order right away.

A waiter has to think about what kind of people are in their section. You know if the couple has ordered a bottle of wine and holding hands they like some space in between courses. The family with the young kids want everything yesterday.

Now if you work with a POS system where you punch in everything by course selection then it is much easier. You just call pick up when you feel it is time allowing a few minutes for the kitchen to prepare the finishing touches to the dish. This allows the waiter to pour some more wine etc..Tasting menues are a prime example. Each course comes out and you have the wine ready for that particular dish.

Don’t get caught running around for stuff when the main course arrives because you didn’t give yourself enough time. Make each table feel special by the thought you put into it. Ordering food through to the kitchen is all about timing and how you do it will affect your gratuity accordingly.

It is the difference between a good waiter and an average one.


  1. This is one thing about my job I have a difficult time with. My cooks are unpredictable. Sometimes an app that should take 5 minutes ends up taking 10 and I have already entered the main course. I think a key to timing is also knowing where your cooks are at. Even if it's not busy they may be doing prep work that will delay them.

  2. LW…you know when the first order is being rung in I especially check who is working. Some people take longer than others. Another thing too is near closing when people start getting cut. Then what sometimes took 10 minutes takes a bit longer. It is like the cooks let down their guard a bit after the rush. I check to see at times if the ticket has been noticed. Good points you make.

  3. Doesn't in also depends on the computer system you work with?The places I've worked, I can punch in the whole order (appys and entrees) but there's a line for ' starters' …but this gives the kitchen a chance to fire a WD steak already if it's on there.So when my guests are finished, I just hit in the computer ' pick up entrees' …done, usually don't have to wait that long, of course if the kitchen is busy I do 'pick up' a little sooner, but I don't have to time everything, which will make service a bit easier and not to stressed about ' will the kitchen be slow or fast today'.

  4. Anonymous…Absolutely it depends on the system you are using. If you have one where you can order the dinner by course then you just pick up the next course when ready and the kitchen will have it ready for you pretty fast. I work with a system which doesn't do that so everything when I ring it in is pick up. So I have to be careful on when I punch it is because it will be fired right away.

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