Nowadays, the hotel’s restaurant is one of the most important features for guests, and has to keep the highest standards at all times. These standards are not only reflected in the food but also in the service, which should be attentive but not too intrusive.
A guest's first impression of the restaurant counts for a lot and as such preparation for the evening service begins several hours before the doors open. Waiting staff often have responsibility for keeping the restaurant area clean, which can involve a lot of work. Junior members of the F&B department will find themselves folding napkins and polishing cutlery for hours and hours before they even see a guest. After all the preparation has been done the staff can lay the table.
A few hours before service, the restaurant supervisor liaises with the chef who walks him through any daily specials. This is very important as this supervisor will need to make sure all servers are aware of the menu and can offer advice and recommendations if they are asked, and also so the sommelier can offer suggestions on which wine pairs best with this dish. At the same time, the restaurant supervisor can update the chef on the exact number of covers booked in for the night and confirm whether there are any special dietary requests.
After all staff have been told about the nightly menu changes and the amuse bouche of the day, it is time for a final check of the restaurant and the staff.
As the diners start to arrive, it is up to the supervisor to pace the service so that the kitchen doesn’t get too many orders at once. This can be done by taking more time with each diner to slow things down, or by taking orders from multiple tables at once to speed things up. Each time an order is taken, the supervisor will take the chit into the kitchen where the head chef will be waiting at the pass to receive it.
After each course, plates are cleared and the table crumbed down so that it looks as good as it did when the diner arrived.
In most restaurants each waiter is assigned a section for which they are responsible. The same waiter will often take an order, serve it, and clear it away. This means that the waiter is always rushing from one point to another, which can mean that a guest may have trouble getting their attention. In a growing number of of restaurants, floaters are used to help with this. These are staff who have no specific function, but rather stay in the restaurant, available if a guest should want to ask a question or have complaint.
Even in the finest restaurant, complaints are unavoidable which means that every single member of the team should be capable of resolving the complaint in a way which satisfies the diner. These resolutions could range from a simple apology to a complimentary dessert or in more serious cases comping the whole meal.
Diners who end the meal feeling full and satisfied often leave a gratuity to show their appreciation for the staff. In most hotels and restaurants, these tips are shared between the staff so that everyone from the kitchen porter to the manager receive the same amount.
During the night shift, the restaurant is re-set for breakfast service, which thankfully is less formal and is often in the form of a buffet rather than a la carte. It is also easier to predict as generally breakfasts are closed to walk-ins so the number of covers is known in advance.
The one complication with breakfast service is the room-service orders which tend to be more common in the morning than during the evening.