Food & Drink Service
Seating Customers

Large parties without bookings

When a large party arrives and a suitable table is not ready, tables will need to be moved together. This should be explained to the customers and they should be asked to wait in the bar or in another suitable place. Preparing the table will be quicker and easier if customers are not standing around and creates a better impression arriving at a table which is laid up.

No table is available

If the wait for a table is going to be too long or if guest cannot be accommodated, apologise. Suggest alternatives if possible either another Restaurant or an alternative date and time. Always remember:

Some establishments do not accept reservations and operate a first come first served policy. Ask how many people are in the party. If a table is free take the customers to it. Otherwise, apologise and explain how long they might have to wait.

Various queuing systems exist:

Customers with special needs

Help customers with special needs such as:

Communication difficulties e.g. by offering a braille menu,

Mobility difficulties, moving chairs aside for wheelchairs,

Children bringing a high chair or cushions for


Special diets

Suggest how these customers can be helped:

Assistance with coats and bags

Customers may appreciate help taking off their coats, especially if they are older, or the coat is a heavy one. However be aware of the establishments policy on guest property if you hang up the coat you assume responsibility for its safety!

There may be somewhere to put customers' bags, umbrellas, etc. so they are out of the way and safe. You can direct them to the cloakroom attendant as they arrive in the restaurant, or point out the coat stand near their table. Sometimes customers will let you take the coats and bags for them. Remember what items belong to which customers. A cloakroom system is sometimes used as it is safer and more efficient though more expensive to run.

Escorting to the table

Lead the way to show customers to the table. They do not know where they are going, and by arriving first you are ready to help customers be seated, e.g. pulling chairs out for ladies and those with mobility difficulties, unfolding napkins and handing out menus.

Greeting customers at the table

If someone else is responsible for showing customers to tables, try to be at the table when the customers arrive. Helping everyone get seated comfortably is the one of the main aims of greeting.

If the customers are already seated and studying the menu, welcome them, e.g. 'Good evening'. In some restaurants, staff introduce themselves by name. Offer drinks, or take the food order.

Banquet service

There are three main possibilities for seating when banquet service involved. Customers:

· Seating Plans : guest seating arrangements are allocated in advance by the organisers or hosts of the event - this is appropriate for more formal events. There will be name cards at each place. Table plans at the entrance to the room and where pre-meal drinks are served help people find their way about.

Some formal events have a toastmaster or master of ceremonies who announces the guest(s) of honour. Other guests may be asked to stand, while the top table guests come into the room and take their seats.