Duties and responsibilities
A buffet server is responsible for making sure that the buffet table is set correctly and that customers are served correctly. Their typical duties and responsibilities include:
- Greeting customers when they arrive at the table
- Providing customers with information on the dishes, and their ingredients
- Assisting customers in taking their food to their tables
- Providing cutlery
- Ensuring customers know where/how they can get drinks
- Overseeing the setup and breakdown of the buffet table and ensuring dishes are refilled
A buffet server does not need any formal education, but a high school diploma is preferred by many employers. It may also be advantageous to have some experience in the hospitality industry. However, this is not essential as food runners will receive on-the-job training.
Skills and relevant work experience
Food runners will need skills such as:
- Customer service skills, as buffer servers must develop a good rapport with customers to leave a positive last impression
- Interpersonal skills, as buffet need to be able to interact and listen to customers
- Attention to detail, as buffer servers must be able to list all ingredients and plate up food correctly
- Communication skills, as food runners need to communicate to other staff when food needs replenishing
- Physical fitness, as buffet servers will need to stand up for most of their shift
Many food runners will work part time, whilst working another job and/or studying. Typically, they will work early mornings, late evenings, weekends and holidays as this is when most people will want to eat out.
According to Glassdoor the median annual salary for a buffet server in the United States is $21,689. A low salary is considered to be around $17,000 per annum, and a high is in excess of $32,000 per annum.
A lot of people are a buffer server for a short period of their lives. Very few people will remain a buffet server throughout the duration of their career and may progress to other roles with more experience and training. Such roles include restaurant supervisor/manager or receptionist. Or, many people leave to industry and seek careers elsewhere. It is not to be forgotten, however, that the skills learnt as a buffer server (e.g., time management, customer service, organization) are invaluable and highly transferrable.