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Become A Cafe Server

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Working As A Cafe Server

  • Performing for or Working Directly with the Public
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Getting Information
  • Selling or Influencing Others
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Outdoors/walking/standing

  • $44,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Cafe Server Do

Food and beverage serving and related workers perform a variety of customer service, food preparation, and cleaning duties in restaurants, cafeterias, and other eating and drinking establishments.

Duties

Food and beverage serving and related workers typically do the following:

  • Greet customers and answer their questions about menu items and specials
  • Take food or drink orders from customers
  • Prepare food and drink orders, such as sandwiches, salads, and coffee
  • Relay customers’ orders to other kitchen staff
  • Serve food and drinks to customers at a counter, at a stand, or in a hotel room
  • Clean assigned work areas, dining tables, or serving counters
  • Replenish and stock service stations, cabinets, and tables
  • Set tables or prepare food trays for new customers

Food and beverage serving and related workers are the front line of customer service in restaurants, cafeterias, and other food service establishments. Depending on the establishment, they take customers’ food and drink orders and serve food and beverages.

Most work as part of a team, helping coworkers to improve workflow and customer service. The job titles of food and beverage serving and related workers vary with where they work and what they do.

The following are examples of types of food and beverage serving and related workers: 

Combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food, are employed primarily by fast-food restaurants. They take food and beverage orders, prepare or retrieve items when ready, fill cups with beverages, and accept customers’ payments. They also heat food items and make salads and sandwiches.

Counter attendants take orders and serve food over a counter in snack bars, cafeterias, movie theaters, and coffee shops. They fill cups with coffee, soda, and other beverages, and may prepare fountain specialties, such as milkshakes and ice cream sundaes. Counter attendants take carryout orders from diners and wrap or place items in containers. They clean counters, prepare itemized bills, and accept customers’ payments.

Food servers, nonrestaurant, serve food to customers outside of a restaurant environment. Many deliver room service meals in hotels or meals to hospital rooms. Some act as carhops, bringing orders to customers in parked cars.

Dining room and cafeteria attendants and bartender helpers—sometimes collectively referred to as bus staff—help waiters, waitresses, and bartenders by cleaning and setting tables, removing dirty dishes, and keeping serving areas stocked with supplies. They also may help waiters and waitresses by bringing meals out of the kitchen, distributing dishes to diners, filling water glasses, and delivering condiments. Cafeteria attendants stock serving tables with food trays, dishes, and silverware. They sometimes carry trays to dining tables for customers. Bartender helpers keep bar equipment clean and glasses washed. 

Hosts and hostesses greet customers and manage reservation and waiting lists. They may direct customers to coatrooms, restrooms, or a waiting area until their table is ready. Hosts and hostesses assign guests to tables suitable for the size of their group, escort patrons to their seats, and provide menus. They also take reservations over the phone, arrange parties, and help with other customers’ requests.

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How To Become A Cafe Server

Most food and beverage service jobs are entry-level jobs and do not require a high school diploma. The majority of workers receive short-term on-the-job training.

Most states require workers, such as nonrestaurant servers, who serve alcoholic beverages to be 18 years of age or older.

Education

There are no formal education requirements for becoming a food and beverage serving worker.

Training

Most workers learn their skills through short-term on-the-job training, usually lasting several weeks. Training includes basic customer service, kitchen safety, safe food-handling procedures, and good sanitation habits.

Some employers, particularly those in fast-food restaurants, teach new workers with the use of self-study programs, online programs, audiovisual presentations, or instructional booklets that explain food preparation and service procedures. However, most food and beverage serving and related workers learn their skills by watching and working with more experienced workers.

Some full-service restaurants provide new dining room employees with classroom training sessions that alternate with periods of on-the-job work experience. The training communicates the operating philosophy of the restaurant, helps new employees establish a personal rapport with other staff, teaches employees formal serving techniques, and instills a desire in the staff to work as a team.

Some nonrestaurant servers and bartender helpers who work in establishments where alcohol is served may need training on state and local laws concerning the sale of alcoholic beverages. Some states, counties, and cities mandate such training, which typically lasts a few hours and can be taken online or in-house.

Advancement

Advancement opportunities are limited to those who remain on the job for a long time. However, some dining room and cafeteria attendants and bartender helpers may advance to waiter, waitress, or bartender positions as they learn the basics of serving food or preparing drinks.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Food and beverage serving and related workers must listen carefully to their customers’ orders and relay them correctly to the kitchen staff so that the orders are prepared to the customers’ request.

Customer-service skills. Food service establishments rely on good food and customer service to keep customers and succeed in a competitive industry. As a result, workers should be courteous and be able to attend to customers’ requests.

Physical stamina. Food and beverage serving and related workers spend most of their worktime standing, carrying heavy trays, cleaning work areas, and attending to customers’ needs.

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Average Length of Employment
Bartender Server 2.8 years
Restaurant Server 2.4 years
Cafe Server 2.0 years
Server 1.9 years
Counter Server 1.6 years
Server/Barista 1.4 years
Cafe Attendant 1.3 years
Cafe Associate 1.2 years
Top Careers Before Cafe Server
Cashier 16.5%
Server 13.1%
Barista 5.4%
Internship 5.0%
Volunteer 4.1%
Hostess 3.6%
Waitress 2.1%
Assistant 2.1%
Manager 2.0%
Deli Clerk 1.8%
Top Careers After Cafe Server
Server 14.7%
Cashier 12.0%
Barista 11.8%
Internship 5.1%
Hostess 3.4%
Cook 2.7%
Nanny 2.7%
Manager 2.7%
Volunteer 2.5%
Waitress 2.5%

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Top Skills for A Cafe Server

  1. Customer Service
  2. Beverage Orders
  3. Food Safety
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Delivered efficient customer service by anticipating customers' preferences and selectively suggesting items on the menu.
  • Take drink orders, make drinks, restock pastry cabinet, bake goods, book sales and cashier
  • Trained new hires on over 15 prescribed drink recipes, preparation techniques and health and safety codes.
  • Prepared and served (Starbucks products) drinks and food in accordance with health code and cafe standards.
  • Maintained composure in an extremely fast paced, sales driven environment

Cafe Server Demographics

Gender

Female

65.2%

Male

24.8%

Unknown

10.1%
Ethnicity

White

61.6%

Hispanic or Latino

17.9%

Black or African American

10.5%

Asian

6.2%

Unknown

3.7%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

47.1%

French

14.7%

Arabic

5.9%

Russian

2.9%

Dutch

2.9%

Chinese

2.9%

German

2.9%

Romanian

2.9%

Cantonese

2.9%

Greek

2.9%

Mandarin

2.9%

Tibetan

2.9%

Korean

2.9%

Italian

2.9%
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Cafe Server Education

Schools

Arizona State University

7.7%

Appalachian State University

6.4%

University of Kentucky

6.4%

University of South Florida

5.1%

Ohio State University

5.1%

James Madison University

5.1%

Florida Atlantic University

5.1%

Grand Valley State University

5.1%

University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee

5.1%

University of Phoenix

5.1%

Liberty University

5.1%

Kaplan University

5.1%

University of Arizona

5.1%

Northern Virginia Community College

5.1%

Irvine Valley College

3.8%

University of North Florida

3.8%

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

3.8%

San Francisco State University

3.8%

Monroe College

3.8%

College of Charleston

3.8%
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Majors

Business

13.0%

Psychology

11.4%

English

8.4%

Graphic Design

6.7%

Health Care Administration

6.4%

Biology

5.4%

Communication

5.0%

General Studies

4.7%

Nursing

4.7%

Fine Arts

4.3%

Liberal Arts

4.0%

Criminal Justice

3.7%

History

3.3%

Marketing

3.0%

Culinary Arts

2.7%

Photography

2.7%

Computer Science

2.7%

Political Science

2.7%

Medical Assisting Services

2.7%

Sociology

2.7%
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Degrees

Bachelors

44.2%

Other

34.0%

Associate

13.9%

Masters

3.1%

Certificate

2.9%

Diploma

0.9%

License

0.5%

Doctorate

0.4%
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