Table service

Providing professional service is important for a positive guest experience and restaurant reputation.

9 step service process

Common words - table service

Food allergies


Cultural competence

Communication with guests

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The service process from start to finish

There are many types of restaurants. While restaurants may differ with regard to their focus and degree of service, the goal is always the same; to provide the best possible service

Most restaurants follow a certain process from the time they receive guests until the guests leave the restaurant. Here is an example of such a service process in 9 steps.


When guests enter a restaurant they are greeted and, where applicable, referred to a table. If they have to wait for a free table, let the guests know how long the waiting time is.


After guests have been seated, fill their water glasses and place a jug of water on the table. Then you bring the guests the menu. If there are special offers or dishes of the day, these need to be introduced specifically to the guests.

In restaurants, where guests fetch water themselves, it is important to refill water jugs and stock up on glasses regularly.


Offer the guests to order drinks. Drinks must be served timely.


Once guests have received their drinks, ask if they are ready to order food.

  • Make sure to take the guests' order not more than two minutes after they have put down the menu.
  • Often guests have questions about the menu that you must be able to answer, e.g. about the food preparation, side dishes or wine. Therefore, it is important that you know the menu well. 
  • Often, guests ask for recommendations, so you always need to be able to recommend some dishes to them.
  • If guests have dietary requirements or food allergies, you have to make sure to pass this information on to those preparing the food.


When you serve the food you need to make sure that all guests receive their food at the same time and that no one has to wait for their order. 

  • If the guests' plates are hot when you serve the food, let the guests know about it.
  • Make sure that guests' glasses are not empty and offer them to order more drinks. 


Shortly after the guests have begun to eat, you should approach the table again and ask if everything is fine or how the food tastes. 


When all the plates are empty or all the guests have stopped eating, ask if you can take the plates. It is also a good idea to ask if guests would like to order dessert, if they have not already done so.


Before guests leave the restaurant, their payment must be accepted. Depending on the establishment you either give them a bill or refer them to a checkout counter. Guests often request to split the bill and in those cases it is important that you accommodate this request and know how to spilt the bill.


After the guests have left, you must clear the tables and prepare the tables for the next guests.

Interesting links

Wine 101 for servers (free online course)

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