Food and service employees spend a lot of time on their feet. They carry heavy trays of food or drinks, change kegs or haul produce and meat from the freezers. The environment is fast-paced and stressful; employees must deal with complaints and unforeseen problems. Most food and service jobs are part-time and do not require a formal education; hence 21 percent of all food service workers are between 16 and 19 years old.
Bartenders prepare drink orders taken either directly from customers at the bar or from the dining area via the waiter/waitress. The bartender's primary goal is to quickly mix drinks accurately and without waste; therefore, a wide knowledge of cocktail recipes, along with a quick hand, is required.
Aside from making drinks, the bartender must maintain the bar area. This includes cleaning the bar area and maintaining an adequate stock of bar supplies. In bars or restaurants without a bar-back, the bartender is in charge of refilling ice, restocking the liquor and mixes.
The waiter/waitress is in charge of serving customers their orders, whether that is food or drink. Also called "servers," the waiter/waitress position is the largest group of service workers. The server takes the orders from the customers, relays the order to either the cook or the bartender (depending on the order), and then serves the order once it has been prepared.
Servers are expected to be quick in service, as well as having an extensive knowledge of the menu and their ingredients. This position requires a lot of leg-work; walking from table to kitchen and back multiple times is required on every shift.
The role of the host/hostess is to greet guests and show them to their seats. The host/hostess is positioned at the front of the establishment. This way, she is the first to be seen when a guest enters. A host/hostess is also in charge of maintaining the reservation list and informing the waitstaff of any changes.
The bar-back is the bartender's assistant. The main duties of the bar-back are to keep the bar area fully stocked. This includes changing kegs, restocking beer and liquor bottles, refilling the ice trays and preparing drink garnishes.
The bar-back position is usually a stepping stone to becoming a bartender. Most bars and restaurants hire within; bar-backs learn directly from the bartender and are familiar with the working environment. As such, the bar-back usually becomes a bartender after collecting enough experience, which varies depending on the establishment.
The cook in a bar or restaurant is responsible for preparing food orders made by the waiter/waitress. The dishes must be prepared accurately and quickly to ensure customer satisfaction. The cook is also in charge of maintaining a clean kitchen and must be diligent to keep a well-stocked work area.
The bar or floor manager oversees the daily operations of the establishment. This includes ensuring that the customers are satisfied as well as keeping a stern eye on all employees. The bar/floor manager is also in charge of employee scheduling and payroll. This position usually requires a background in management, but often bars and restaurants will hire a bar/floor manager from within, perhaps a promotion for a bartender or waiter/waitress.
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