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Improve Restaurant Service:
Use Proper Serving Trays


In Restaurant Dining Room Service, proper serving trays are one the important "tools" which the dining room service staff needs to perform their positions properly. The type of tray used must be the correct fit for the restaurant's menu, level of service, and staff.  It is a major factor for how well the tables are cleared.
After finishing a service consulting job for a huge banquet operation that consisted of 3 gorgeous Romanesque style rooms total, I noticed the many different types of serving trays that the restaurant was using.

This inconsistency made things cumbersome and a bit confusing for the dining room service staff. It had taken some time and effort to figure out the best type trays to use, and what benefits the staff and service the most.
After doing away with expensive, over sized silver trays, we finally ended up using medium and large sized brown trays which had a nice grip in the center. These trays were the perfect fit, and the staff thanked me greatly. The trays were light, easy to handle, inexpensive, but looked nice because a white napkin was placed over the each tray while serving and clearing.

Serving trays seem like such a trivial item in restaurants, yet if used incorrectly, they will have a negative effect on restaurant service and staff.
With restaurant service, one of the main goals to keep in mind is balancing "what looks best in the dining room" to the logistics of actually getting the job done safely and in a sanitary manner.

3 simple but very important things for waitstaff to remember about tray service are:

    • 1- Do not carry too many items on the tray at one time (dangerous).

    • 2- Try not to carry too little at one time (wasted effort) ---balance is the key.

    • 3- Always separate the silverware on the tray, (first, place the silverware off to one side, and then stack plates).


Here are some other tray maintenance points:

    • 1- There must always be enough trays available for service. [Waitstaff must not be wasting time and effort searching for trays because there are not enough available.]

    • 2- There must be proper, designated "easy access" storage areas for the trays when they are not in use. A good storage spot would be on a shelf relatively close to the kitchen doors (either side of the doors, but in a safe spot). Waitstaff should be able to place or retrieve trays before entering or exiting either the kitchen or the dining room areas.

    • 3- All trays must be gathered and washed each and every night--and sometimes during the shift if necessary.

Also, in most cases, at least 2 different types of trays should be made available for the waitstaff. (Large sized trays and smaller sized trays)

Like customer service, serving trays seems like such a simple subject. But, when you really get down to all of the factors involved, the serving tray issue can become quite complex and should not be taken lightly.
The proper use of serving trays may also eliminate the need for buspans that, in some restaurants, are sitting in the dining room which are an ear and eyesore.
Are the serving trays the correct fit for the menu, level of service, and staff?
Have you checked the serving trays at your restaurant to see if they benefit your restaurant to the fullest?

Richard Saporito, founder of Topserve Restaurant Consulting, has over 30 years restaurant service experience in many diverse and profitable New York City establishments. He has worked in restaurants of all sizes and shapes ranging from small independent start-ups to large scale corporate operations with seating capacities of over 1500.
Richard uses this successful experience to help owners, managers, and dining room staffs achieve that outstanding customer service reputation which always sets a restaurant apart from its fierce competition.
Richard has written “How To Improve Dining Room Service” which is widely used for setting up and organizing restaurant dining room service. With each consulting job, this book always gets implemented in one way or another. The reasons being is that the concepts explained inside the book will help put the correct dining room service systems in place and keep them functioning properly for years to come.


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