Service Basics

Mise en place

It means all the necessary preparation work that is to do which grant a smooth performance of service.


The language set by the company must be spoken at all times in front of customers. Pronunciation must be as clear as possible, and you should always maintain eye contact during conversation.

Table reservation

Listen to the customer without interrupting and then communicate in a clear, unhurried, friendly manner. Correctly record all relevant information in the restaurant diary e.g. Name, date, time, size of party, special requirements smoking or non-smoking table. Add value by suggesting items such as birthday cakes, champagne, flowers, quiet tables…etc. Positively close the conversation by asking if there are any further requirements, by repeating the details and thanking the customer by name and by stating that we look forward to welcoming them.

Reservations/off hours

Phones are to be answered during off-hours by forwarding the call to a specific and consistent support department. All reservations are recorded with date/day of reservation, the name and number of guests, caller’s name, phone and smoking preference. Enquiry is made and response appropriately recorded if there are any special requests. Reservations made far in advance are reconfirmed on the day of the booking.

Serviette folds

There are many forms of serviette fold to be found in use in food and beverage service areas. Some are intricate in their detail while others are simpler. The simpler folds are used in everyday service and some of the more complex and difficult folds may be used on special occasions such as luncheons, dinners and weddings. There are tree main reasons why the more simple folds are better than the more complex ones.

First the serviette, if folded correctly, can look well and add to the general appearance of the room whether it is a simple or difficult fold. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, is the question of hygiene. The more complex fold involves greater handling to complete the fold, and its appearance, when unfolded to spread over the guest’s lap, is poor, as it has many more creases in it. Finally there is the question of time. The complex fold takes much more time to complete properly than does a very simple fold.

Equipment recommended for waiter/ess

Service cloth, corkscrew with knife, matches, writing materials, ordering pads. It is advised that you keep the following in your locker: sewing kit, stain remover, shaving kit, shoe polish, second uniform, deodorant, specialised literature.


Glasses have to be spotless polished and thoughtfully selected for the particular beverage service. Glasses should be cleaned and stored upside down on a rack, allowing a free flow of air through the owl. If the air is trapped it will become stale and musty, one reason why wine can be incorrectly mistaken as being corked. An unpolished glass will also cause Champagne or sparkling wine to quickly lose it bubbles.

Glasses should be large enough to accommodate the relevant beverage, whilst leaving room to swirl the wine. A stemmed, tulip shape will allow the glass to be held without interfering with the temperature, and the shape will hold the aroma and allow a more vigorous “swirl”. see more – wineglasses


This type of corkscrew, also known as “waiter’s corkscrew”, “waiters best friend”, or “bottle opener”, in its simplicity, represents a very efficient tool for opening a bottle. This kind of tool is formed by a body or handle, which allows to grip it, and attached to it there are all the other mobile parts of the corkscrew such as the blade, the spiral and the lever. Every single element of the corkscrew plays an important role which allows to accomplish a perfect job.


Do not hand over trays, glasses or plates from one person to another person directly. Put it down on a table, a shelf or on the pass, and the other person has to take it from there.

Laying the tablecloth

Before laying the tablecloth the waiter/ress must ensure that the table and chairs are in their correct position. Secondly he or she must see that the tabletop is clean, thirdly that the table is level and finally see that it does not wobble. If the table wobbles slightly then a small wedge or an old menu folded up will correct the fault.

Next the waiter/ress must collect the correct size of tablecloth for the table to be clothed up. Most tablecloths are folded in what is known as a screen fold. The waiter/ress must stand in the correct position to lay the tablecloth properly; that is between the legs of the table. This is to ensure that the corners of the tablecloth cover the legs of the table and do not fall between the table legs. The tablecloth folded in the screen fold has one inverted fold and two single folds and should be opened out across the tale in front of the waiter/ress with the inverted and two single folds facing him/her and with the inverted fold on top.

The tablecloth should then be laid in the correct manner. The points that should be noted if the tablecloth is laid correctly are as follows:

Points to ensure prior to laying the tablecloth

  • The tabletop is clean.
  • You have the correct size of tablecloth for the table being clothed up.
  • The table is firm and does not wobble.
  • The tale itself is in its correct position.
  • You must position yourself between the legs of the table – and on the longer side of a rectangular table.
  • The tablecloth is unfolded across the table in front of the person laying the tablecloth, and
  • The inverted fold and two single folds must be facing you.
  • When handling the tablecloth keep your hands well apart as this gives you more control.
  • The inverted double fold should be on top and the two single folds underneath.
  • The inverted or double fold should be held gently but firmly between your thumb and first finger, then the first or upper single fold should be held between the first and second finger.
  • The second single fold remains free.
  • Holding the tablecloth firmly raise it above the table so that the second single fold falls free.
  • Drop it over the far side of the table until the required amount of overlap is obtained.
  • One may use the creases (folds) on the tablecloth as a guide.
  • Now release the inverted or double fold by removing your thumbs.
  • At the same time keep the cloth raised slightly above the surface of the table.
  • Holding the first or upper fold firmly between your first and second finger.
  • Shake the tablecloth gently to allow air to flow between it and the table surface.
  • Position the cloth accurately over the tale using the creases as a guide and ensuring the overlap around the table is equal.
  • The overlap is generally ca. 25 cm, but not longer than 1 cm above the chair.

Having stood in the correct position – that is between the legs of the table – this will ensure that the corners of the tablecloth cover the legs of the table.

It should be noted that when all tables in restaurant are clothed then the main creases on each tablecloth should run, as far as possible, in the same direction, and that is from the entrance of the restaurant and up the room.

Laying a table

Once the table is clothed-up it would be laid in readiness for service. If the cover being laid is an á la carte cover then the first item set on the table is the fish plate in the centre of each cover, 1 inch from edge of table. If it was a table d’hôte cover being laid then the first item to be set on the table would be the serviette or side-plate in the centre of each cover. If the side-plate was laid in the centre of each cover it would be moved to the left-hand side of the cover once all the cutlery and flatware had been laid. The purpose of initially placing something in the centre of the cover is to ensure the covers are exactly opposite one another and that the cutlery and flatware of each cover are the same distance apart. Cutlery and flatware should be laid from a service salver or service plate. An alternative to this is to use a service cloth and hold the items being laid in the service cloth, giving a final polish before setting the items on the table. When laying a table d’hôte cover, the cutlery and flatware should be laid from the inside to the outside of the cover. The purpose of this is that it ensures even spacing of the cover and normally lessens the chances of having to handle the items laid more than necessary. In any case, the wine glass goes on top of the main knife.

Chairs should be free from crumbs and positioned so that the front of the seat is line with the table. All tables should be checked before each service. Even if you did not lay the tables on your section, it is your responsibility to ensure each table is correctly dressed. Check with the reservations sheet that the number of covers per table is correct for service.

Preparation is as important as the service in the restaurant. If you are prepared for a busy service, you can handle a busy service.

Preparing your table is only the beginning. Mise en place is vital to the smooth running of a busy restaurant.

How to carry plates

There are three techniques to carry a plate the right way:

1. Take the plate between your thumb and you first finger and put the second plate under the first one and press it with your palm against the first plate and hold it with your other fingers.

2. Take the plate between your thumb and your first finger turn your fourth and your little finger up and put the second plate on three points – your arm, the topside of your thumb and the two fingers.

3. Take two plates like the first way and put the third one on it the same way like in the second way, but instead of the two fingers use the second plate.

If clearing dishes it is important the first plate is held firmly as succeeding dirties and the cutlery are build up on this one, which means you have a considerable weight to hold. Place the knife under the arch in the handle of the fork. Any debris or crumbs would be pushed into that triangle formed by the handles of the knife and fork and the rim of the plate that is nearest the holding hand. The third plate is to position on the “second” plate.

Carry anything else

Trays will be used at all times to carry something through the restaurant. Except when you carry plates or you use a saucer.

Clearing dishes

Dishes are cleared promptly within three minutes of all guests finishing their meal. We are always careful to avoid interrupting our guests with this process. Clear the plates with you right hand from the right hand-side hold them in your left. Clearing the table clockwise, at first the main plates and than the side plates. For a buffet, whenever customers go for a refill the place setting is promptly reset.


Clips are a large spoon and a large fork. The waiter can use this tool for all necessary works in front of a customer and at the buffet. Gueridon services, banqueting services, marinade, mix, and even filet a fish if fish cutlery is missing.

How to use clips

The purpose of the service spoon and fork is to enable the waiter to serve food from a flat or dish onto the guest’s plate quickly and present it well. The end of the service spoon and fork should be positioned in the centre of the palms of the serving hand. This allows more control when serving various food items. The service fork should be positioned above, or on top of, the service spoon. The service spoon is held firmly in position by the fingers of the serving hand other than the forefinger. The forefinger or index finger is used together with the thumb to hold the handle of the service fork. Using this method, you are able to pick up food items from the serving dish in between the service spoon and service fork, and at the same time manipulate (turn) the service fork to mould with the shape of the items being served. Take the clips on the end of the handle and spread it apart, than you can use them as a shovel. For example for the filet of a fish, this is very fragile. If you have to serve a dumpling or same cakes, turn the fork around so you have a better grip.

Courses step by step according to the international standards

  • Amuse gueule/bouche
  • Potage froide
  • Hors d’œufre froide
  • Potage chaude
  • Hors d’œufre chaude
  • Poisson
  • Gross Piece
  • Entrée chaude
  • Entrée froide
  • Sorbet
  • Roti/Salad/Legume
  • Entremet chaude
  • Entremet froide
  • Fromage
  • Dessert
  • Café


One of the technical terms very often used in the catering industry is a cover. What does this mean? There are two definitions according to the context.

1. When discussing how many guests a restaurant or dining room will seat, or how many guests will e attending a certain cocktail party, we refer to the total number of guests concerned as so many “covers”.

2. When laying a table in readiness for service there are a variety of place settings, which may be laid according to the type of meal and service being offered. We refer to these place settings as a certain type of cover being laid.

In other words, a cover denotes all the necessary cutlery, flatware, crockery, glassware, and linen necessary to lay a certain type of place setting for a specific meal.

Basic service rules

Your carrying hand is the left hand – your working hand is the right!!! You serve everything from the right side – what you serve from the right side you also clear from the right side! There are just three exceptions. You serve and clear from the left: Silver service (presenting and serving from the platter), Side plates (Salad, Side orders), Plate changing Gueridon Service.


Strictly prohibited in restaurants:

Eat, drink, chew gum, lean, shout, and comb your hair, re-apply make up, private discussions, poke your nose, scratch.


You have to be prepared to take the guests orders at their convenience. Politely repeat the orders for clarification. Make suggestive selling efforts, never hard sells. In general, the company has a system in place to ensure colleagues avoid repetitious requests. Write the order on the order pad including the table number and the guest number. Post the order into the till system. You will find the table- and guest numbers on the à Table Plan, located at the till area.


Prepare and present clear, accurate bills. Process all methods of payment e.g. cash, credit card, account card and return change and receipt to the customer on a clean bill presenter. Positively check the customer’s satisfaction, thank the customer by name, where appropriate and express a wish to see them again soon.

Prepare the restaurant for the service

  • Check if the tables and surrounding areas are clean and tidy
  • Lay the tables with the correct table items e.g. crockery, cutlery, glassware and condiments
  • Prepare the hot and cold buffet tables with the correct service utensils and accompaniments. (Cruets, dressings, sauces, creams, etc.)
  • Prepare a station with the equipment necessary for the service period
  • Use and maintain all the restaurant equipment e. g. coffee machine


The prices of all items for sale must be indicated to the customer in writing. This is being done on a notice displayed on the bar, in the menu and in the wine list. This must be clear, legible, and easily read by all customers.

Quality check

You have to check as of whether the presentation of food is appetizing, that the portions are of acceptable size, that the hot food is hot and cold food cold, that the food resembles description from menu, that the taste and texture meet expectations and that the customer receives value for money.

Up selling

To up-sell is to suggest complementary items to customers with their order. I.e.: suggest a cookie when they buy coffee; suggest a portion of salad when they buy a quiche. The item you suggest must be complementary, not the main item.

Margin oriented up selling

Every business is both, product and customer orientated. One of the key objectives is the turnover, which contains two main parameters

  • How many customers visiting us?
  • And how much money they spend?
  • The formula is to push both parameters in order to maximise profits.


We are confident that the average spend can grow crucial through up selling. Suggest a cookie when one asks for coffee; recommend a portion of salad when one orders a sandwich. The item you suggest has to be complementary, not a main item.


  • Up selling is the channel through which this objective can be achieved
  • Up selling is to suggest complementary items to customers with their order
  • Up selling is simple a must!


  • You cannot suggest more than one item
  • You ought to suggest to the parents even if the children select items on there own
  • You should always use the positive interrogative tense

Another way to escalate the average spend is when you offer customers to take a bigger portion of what they select, based on totally satisfying their needs. (Menu engineering, daily or weekly specials…)

Whilst you achieve up selling as a day-to-day routine meaning to increase the productivity you have to improve the profitability, which is an equal important challenge.


Another key objective is the Net Contribution – the profit. It is an indicator for success, when the profit rises faster and higher than the amount of customers.

Margin orientated selling will directly affect the bottom line, rather than the turnover, in the sense that the Net Contribution will climb higher by the same turnover.

The staff will have to be trained in product knowledge because it is important that they know which of two similar products includes the higher margin. With this information, one can serve automatically the more profitable product, without asking.

Therefore it is essential to create a Food-, Wine- and Coffee Description and provide the staff with all necessary product knowledge they need to do up selling at all times in the right way. In Blue Pudding, we have introduced a performance related measurement. A competition: Who sells the most of a particular item in a specific period?


A smile is defined as an expression of the face with the corners of the mouth turned up, showing happiness, pleasure, etc… At the time of writing this, I am trying to express happiness without smiling. I was expecting my eyes at least to glisten or my hair to stand on end, to relay the smile. A smile comes naturally as long as you are happy, happy to see the customer or your guests. You cannot truly smile if you are not happy, and using make up is always noticeable. If you truly smile your guest may say “Hello” before you can open your mouth. This is because the guest trusts you, therefore you may use “Hello” or any warm expression: “Nice to see you, how are you today?”