Taking Orders
in Food and Drink Service
Back to index

This page explains:

How to present menus

Advising cutomer choice

How to take the order

Order Taking Skills

Presenting the menu

, After showing customers to the table the waiter or the restaurant manager may present the menus or the menu may already be on the table.

Sometimes the menu or the specials of the day are displayed on a board in this case point the board out to customers.

In some pretentious restaurants, the host is given a menu with prices, while the host's guests have un-priced menus.

Draw customers' attention to the menu, explain how it works. Is it A la carte - individually priced or is it all at a set price, mention any information not in the menu, e.g. what the dish and soup of the day is, or any dishes which are unavailable.

Describe dishes or special offers you have been asked to promote.

Advising on customers' choice

You should be ready to tell customers about:

· any items not available

· specialities of the day and special promotions, as briefed by your supervisor/manager/the chef

· for each dish the main ingredients and summary of how it is made

· dishes that take a long time to prepare, and those which might suit someone in a hurry

· dishes available for vegetarians and those on special diets (e.g. no dairy products) or with allergies to certain foods (e.g. celiacs or nuts)

· what variations to dishes are possible, e.g. baked potato, not chips, with any main course

  • price of dishes not on menu.

Taking the order

The aims are the same - whether you are using a hand-held terminal linked to a computer, a simple order pad, or relying entirely on your memory.

1 To find out what the customers require to eat and drink.

2 To pass this information on to those responsible for preparing the food and drink (computerised systems print the order out in the kitchen and dispense bar).

  1. To calculate the amount which customers have to pay. If payment has been made in advance, or the meal is part of a package (e.g. hotel prices which include breakfast and/or dinner), this information helps check for discrepancies between meals served and meals paid for.

Copies of orders may also be used to:

· compare the amount of food purchased with the number of meals served

· monitor popularity of different items

· account for or marry up to customer orders with the amount of cash taken.

Some restaurants operate a system where all orders are taken by the restaurant manager, head waiter or waitress. In some establishments the customers may write their own order down and present it to the staff.

Preprinted order forms with dish/item names, and hand-held computer terminals are no common methods for taking orders. Tick or type in the code allocated to the dish or press the preprogrammed key. Some systems will give you a prompt for with additional selling opportunities 'Ice cream?' (with apple pie) or reminders 'How done?' (for steak).

Customer skills when taking orders

1 If the customers are not ready to order, offer to return to the table.

2 Face the customers as they make their choice. Look at them when they speak.

3 Show respect for the customers and try to project your wish to help them enjoy their meal. This may mean a strictly upright posture and 'Thank you, ma'am', or sitting at the table with a customer dining alone, or kneeling on the floor beside a group of customers. It may mean being jovial and chatty, or quiet and respectful.

4 Decide whose order you should take first. It is usual to take women's orders before men's, and the host last. Asking who's ready to order is another possibility, customers sometimes take turns to order or one will order for the rest of the party.

5 Be patient when customers are indecisive or change their minds. Offer some suggestions, or try to gently guide them to a decision.

6 Prompt for further requirements. 'Would you like a side salad?' Done well, this will boost sales and increase customer satisfaction.

7 Don't promise what can't be delivered: 'That should be no problem, but I'll just check with the chef.'

Read back the order to check you have each detail correct. Mistakes annoy customers and cause trouble with the kitchen.

back to top of page