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Waiting staff, wait staff, or waitstaff are those who work at a restaurant
A restaurant is an establishment which prepares and serves food and drink to customers in return for money. Meals are generally served and eaten on premises, but many restaurants also offer take-out and food delivery services...

 or a bar
Bar (establishment)
A bar is a business establishment that serves alcoholic drinks — beer, wine, liquor, and cocktails — for consumption on the premises.Bars provide stools or chairs that are placed at tables or counters for their patrons. Some bars have entertainment on a stage, such as a live band, comedians, go-go...

 attending customers — supplying them with food and drink as requested. Traditionally, a male waiting tables is called a "waiter" and a female a "waitress" with the gender-neutral version
Gender-neutral language
Gender-neutral language, gender-inclusive language, inclusive language, or gender neutrality is linguistic prescriptivism that aims to eliminate reference to gender in terms that describe people...

 being a "server". Other gender-neutral versions include using "waiter" indiscriminately for males and females, "waitperson", or the Americanism
American English
American English is a set of dialects of the English language used mostly in the United States. Approximately two-thirds of the world's native speakers of English live in the United States....

 "waitron", which was coined in the 1980s.

Waiting on tables is (along with nursing and teaching
A teacher or schoolteacher is a person who provides education for pupils and students . The role of teacher is often formal and ongoing, carried out at a school or other place of formal education. In many countries, a person who wishes to become a teacher must first obtain specified professional...

) part of the service sector, and among the most common occupations in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. The Bureau of Labor Statistics
Bureau of Labor Statistics
The Bureau of Labor Statistics is a unit of the United States Department of Labor. It is the principal fact-finding agency for the U.S. government in the broad field of labor economics and statistics. The BLS is a governmental statistical agency that collects, processes, analyzes, and...

 estimates that, as of May 2008, there were over 2.2 million persons employed as servers in the U.S.

Many servers are required by their employers to wear a uniform
A uniform is a set of standard clothing worn by members of an organization while participating in that organization's activity. Modern uniforms are worn by armed forces and paramilitary organizations such as police, emergency services, security guards, in some workplaces and schools and by inmates...


Duties of waiting staff

The duties of waiting staff include preparing tables for a meal, taking customers' orders, serving drinks and food, and cleaning up before, after and during servings in a restaurant.
Silver service
Silver Service (waiting)
Silver service is the name given to a method of table service in the United Kingdom. This usually includes serving food at the table. It is a technique of transferring food from a service dish to the guest's plate from the right....

 staff are specially trained to serve at banquets or high-end restaurants. They follow specific rules of service and it is a skilled job. They generally wear black and white with a long, white apron (extending from the waist to ankle).
The head server is in charge of the waiting staff, and is also frequently responsible for assigning seating. The functions of a head server can overlap to some degree with that of the maître d'hôtel. Some restaurants employ busboy
Busser, busboy and busgirl are terms used in the United States for someone who works in the restaurant and catering industry clearing tables, taking dirty dishes to the dishwasher, setting tables and otherwise assisting the waiting staff....

s or busgirls, increasingly referred to as bussers, to clear dirty dishes, set tables, and otherwise assist the waiting staff.

Emotional labour is often required by waiting staff, particularly at high-class restaurants.


In the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, many other Western countries and parts of the Middle East, it is customary for customers to pay a tip to a server after a meal, with a possible range from 10% to 25% depending on the level and quality of service. In some situations, a tip or "service charge" will be included on the restaurant bill
Bill (payment)
A bill or invoice is a document requesting payment for an order previously supplied. Presentation of a bill is common practice on the part of credit card companies, utilities, and other service providers...

 in the U.S. Also called a gratuity, a "service charge" will be automatically applied for situations where the restaurant management imposes this to ensure that the servers working in such situations earn their usual tip income. Such service charges are usually around 18%; an additional voluntary tip is sometimes given. There is some debate in the U.S. whether a "minimum tip" exists as a convention; some argue that 15% or 20% is a minimum tip or that it is extremely rude to not leave at least $1, even if the service was not up to standard. However, some people also believe that a "minimum tip" is a way for employers to shift the responsibility of paying employee wages onto the customer. These issues are regional, cultural, and very subjective.

In Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 and other Western countries, where minimum wages exist for servers and where tipping is not culturally entrenched, most tips take the form of rounding up to the nearest whole or half denomination of currency when the server is cashing a party out at their table. In the United Kingdom it is common practice to tip 10% of the cost of the meal.

By contrast, servers in Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 refuse tips because it isn't a Japanese custom.

Tipping is not customary in Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

, Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 and New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

 and is not factored into wages of staff, however tips may be appreciated. This is especially the case if the customer or party has been unusually difficult or has left a mess - parents of small children, for example, may leave a small tip. In these countries, tips are often placed into a Tip Jar and pooled rather than being kept by individual servers. This money is usually then spent on things that directly benefit staff - it may be used to maintain staff facilities or to fund events such as Christmas parties, for example.

In Taiwan and Hong Kong, a 10% service fee is often added to meals in middle-to-upscale restaurants. However, this fee does not go to the waitstaff - but is simply a surcharge that is added to the price of the meal.

Where tipping is common, it may be encouraged as a social convention, but on occasion may actually be vehemently enforced by the restaurant.

See also

  • Garçon
    Garçon is the French word for boy.In English, and various other languages, it was adopted in the specific meaning of a waiter, especially of low rank in a larger establishment, who serves customers food and/or drinks. However, in France, it is considered rude to address a waiter as garçon...

  • Bikini barista
    Bikini barista
    A bikini barista is a person who prepares and serves coffee drinks while dressed in scanty attire such as a bikini or lingerie. This marketing trend developed in the Seattle, Washington area of the northwestern United States in the early 2000s, and gained international attention by early 2007.-...

  • Chamberlain
    Chamberlain (office)
    A chamberlain is an officer in charge of managing a household. In many countries there are ceremonial posts associated with the household of the sovereign....

  • Table service

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