Server Duties: 4 Restaurant Server Side Work Tasks and Best Practices for Managing Them

Server Duties: 4 Restaurant Server Side Work Tasks and Best Practices for Managing Them
Ana Cvetkovic

By Ana Cvetkovic

Table of Contents

    People who don't work in the restaurant industry think that all there is to being a server is taking orders, bringing out food, and sorting out the bill. However, those with experience on the front-of-house (FOH) side of restaurants know there's more to server duties than meets the eye.

    Server side work duties are just as crucial as primary duties. They're critical to maintaining a clean, safe, and well-organized restaurant.

    Keep reading to learn:

    • Server side work your FOH team should be doing
    • Best practices for executing these side duties of a server
    • How to build server side work into shifts


    4 Server Side Work Duties to Add Alongside Primary Server Duties

    The most important server side work duties are cleaning, restocking, organizing, and managing safety. Here's a look at what each of these jobs entails and how to do them.

    1. Cleaning server duties

    Cleaning is critical to passing health inspections and making your restaurant appealing to customers. Sanitizing surfaces often has become extremely important during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    While a restaurant may have a custodian or clean staff who cleans at the end of the day, many cleaning tasks need to be done throughout the day to ensure a tidy and safe dining atmosphere. It's important to build small cleaning tasks into the duties of a server so that the restaurant stays neat throughout a busy day of service.

    Restaurant side work checklist for cleaning duties:

    • Cleaning surfaces like chairs, tables, and counters
    • Sanitizing bathrooms
    • Sweeping the dining room floor
    • Wiping down or sanitizing menus
    • Putting food back into the fridge
    • Makings sure windows are free of handprints, dust, and grime
    • Dusting ceiling fans
    • Sanitizing TV remotes and wiping down screens

    Tips for how to do these critical server duties:

    It's best to split cleaning duties up by shifts.

    • Opening shift: Wipe down surfaces and menus, make sure the dining room is neat, clean fans, clean windows, and clean the bathrooms
    • Closing shift: Sweep the floor, sanitize TV accessories, put food back in the fridge, and clean the bathrooms
    • Ongoing cleaning duties: Clean surfaces and menus before and after parties leave and check the toilets hourly

    2. Restocking server side work

    Running out of supplies can turn a calm shift into one reminiscent of a chaotic round of Diner Dash. Proactive restocking of tableware, menus, and other supplies makes servers' jobs easier and customers' dining experiences smoother.

    Restaurant side work checklist for restocking duties:

    • Refilling condiments (or during the pandemic: pouring condiments into single-serving containers)
    • Replenishing hand sanitizer bottles
    • Restocking self-service stations with napkins, plasticware, straws, milk, half and half, etc.
    • Replenishing drink stations with syrups, cups, straws, and lids
    • Preparing garnishes for the bar
    • Bringing glasses and tableware from the back of the house to the front of the house
    • Restocking buffets and salad bars
    • Alerting managers when inventory is low and needs to be reordered

    Tips for how to do these critical server duties:

    Like with cleaning tasks, restocking jobs can be assigned to specific shifts. All of the duties of a server above should be done before opening and upon closing. Tasks like replacing tableware and replenishing buffets may need to be done more often throughout the day.

    3. Organizing duties of a server

    When servers pepper their shifts with organizing tasks, they help the restaurant look tidy and appealing to customers.

    Restaurant side work checklist for organizing duties:

    • Preparing place settings
    • Tidying tables
    • Setting up place settings
    • Setting up and removing outdoor dining tables
    • Pushing in chairs after parties leave
    • Lighting candles and taking them away

    Tips for how to do these critical server duties:

    Assign some tasks to opening shifts, others to closing shifts, and others as ongoing tasks, like so:

    • Opening shift: Set up outdoor dining and place settings
    • Closing shift: Bring in outdoor dining settings, prepare place settings for the next day, and remove candles from tables
    • Ongoing: Light candles and push in chairs

    4. Safety server duties

    These server side duties are critical for preventing break-ins and robberies. Removing cash from the premise, for example, helps keep your staff safe and prevents fraud.

    Restaurant side work checklist for safety duties:

    • Locking up the restaurant
    • Setting the alarm system
    • Closing all windows and doors
    • Turning lights off
    • Reconciling cash in register with POS
    • Depositing cash at the bank

    Tips for how to do these critical server duties:

    Assign these safety duties to trustworthy servers who work the closing shifts. These duties may take half an hour or so, so make sure to account for that time when scheduling shifts.


    How to Build Server Side Work Into Shifts

    When you incorporate server side work into shifts, you decrease the staff's risk of forgetting to do it. Assign side duties based on stations or shift times to ensure they can be done seamlessly alongside primary responsibilities.

    For example, if a server works the first outdoor dining shift, they should be responsible for setting up the outdoor tables and placing candles on them. Additionally, a bartender, rather than a server, should be accountable for sanitizing TV remotes and refilling bar garnishes.

    Assign servers to stations and assign side duties to stations, so servers know what to do in addition to their core responsibilities. Don't forget to assign opening and closing duties. You can find examples of these throughout this article and in our server opening and closing checklist.


    Best Practices for Managing Side Duties

    Communication and to-do lists are crucial to successfully managing server side work.

    While you should let servers know about their new side tasks through a team meeting and your staff communications tool, nothing beats demonstrating them through in-person training sessions. Film training videos and share them with FOH staff via your communications tool so they can reference them as needed.

    Use a task management tool, like 7tasks, to create a shift checklist based on shift time and station. Download 7shifts' free restaurant server checklist for inspiration and customize it with tasks that are unique to your restaurant.


    Server side work duties keep restaurants running smoothly

    There is more to a FOH role than meets the eye. Yes, serving is part of the name and is a vital duty, but what servers do behind the scenes helps restaurants stay in tip-top shape. Side duties that involve safety, cleaning, organizing, and reorganizing are essential to a restaurant's success.

    Use a restaurant operations tool like 7shifts to assign side duties and hold staff accountable for doing them. Start your free trial today.

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    Ana Cvetkovic
    Ana Cvetkovic

    Ana Cvetkovic is a freelance writer for 7shifts. She is also the CEO of BLOOM Digital Marketing, a creative marketing agency that helps the hospitality and tourism industries reach millennials online.