Waitresses and bartenders are the main men and women behind the restaurant industry. They’re responsible for serving customers a variety of food and drinks, as well as maintaining the general image of the establishment they work in. They can work at any hour of the day, though the most popular times for these individuals to work is during the evenings and weekends, seeing as that’s when their restaurants are the most actively occupied.
Waitress and Bartender Job Responsibilities
Bartenders are primarily tasked with mixing and preparing drinks for their clients, sometimes serving those drinks to them if they’re sitting at the bar, though they will send out drinks through the waitstaff to patrons seated at the tables throughout the restaurant. They need to be well versed in the drink specials at the bar, as well as many common and unique cocktails to fit the taste of any customer.
Many of these drinks require precise measurement of certain ingredients, that most bartenders either figure out by habit or with the use of specialized serving equipment. They also are responsible to verify the identification of any patron that sits at their bar, since they’re the main conduit to receiving alcohol and tobacco products at that establishment. Bartenders are also responsible for maintaining the stocks and ordering inventory for the bar, including drinks, mixing ingredients, and garnishes for certain cocktails.
They prepare most of the garnishes for specialty drinks, as well as serve food for the customers who are eating at the bar. They are also tasked with keeping the bar area clean—this may include wiping down the general area, and washing glasses and other equipment they may have used throughout the evening. Since the bar sometimes acts as a different operation that is removed from the rest of a restaurant, the bartender is also responsible for operating the cash register, collecting tips, and taking orders from patrons.
Waitresses are primarily concerned with taking orders from customers throughout the restaurant. They often meet with the kitchen managers before their shift starts in order to discuss nightly specials and certain items that the kitchen has run out of. Furthermore, they are responsible for checking identification of customers who are ordering liquor and tobacco at their tables. Waitress must often assist their colleagues in carrying or otherwise handling larger food orders, and they sometimes need to cover other duties such as running the cash register, seating patrons, or cleaning tables. They also need to prepare itemized checks and act as the main conduit of information between the kitchen and the rest of the restaurant.
Waitress and Bartender Training and Education Requirements
There is often no formal training when it comes to being a waitress or bartender, as is very much the case in most food service jobs. A lot of the training and education occurs while on the job, where current employees will discuss proper etiquette, food safety tips, and rules of the restaurant they are working in. Though this is the case in most casual locations, most high-end restaurants and eateries will prefer that their staff receives this training from another site. In other words, it’s better for waitresses and bartenders to work in a more casual restaurant before moving onto a nicer place.
There are vocational schools and separate classes for bartenders, though it should be noted that these lessons are taken at the candidates’ personal cost. These classes include lessons on mixing drinks, what attire to wear to work, how to stock a bar, and what the different regulations are concerning liquor. It should be noted that some employers, especially those in higher-end venues, will be more apt to hire a candidate based on his or her training in this aspect.
While there are no specific education requirements for working as a bartender or waitress, most establishment require that candidates have completed high school, at least. However, some waitresses are known to have completed some high school or less, while many bartenders need to be at least 21 years of age in order to be legally allowed to be around alcohol.
Waitress and Bartender Wages and Salary
A great majority of the earnings for waitresses and bartenders is derived from tips received from the customers. As such, the average earnings vary greatly by location and caliber of the location. Some restaurants require that all waitresses and bartenders put their tips into a greater tip pool, as to give some of this gratuity to other workers who don’t have direct contact with the patrons. On average, however, bartenders are known to have higher wages and thus receive higher tips from customers, since alcohol is a huge seller in the restaurant world. For waitresses, it all depends on the caliber of restaurant they’re working in, as well as the rapport they’ve established with their customers.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Waitress and Bartender Certifications
There is on current certification in order to become a waitress or bartender, though employers will look favorably upon applicants with previous experience working with food, considering that many of the rules that apply in one restaurant can transfer to another. Furthermore, as previously stated, some bartenders can receive a license in order to serve drinks, but this is more of a way to get into classier restaurants than it is a prerequisite to perform the job.
Waitress and Bartender Professional Associations
Currently, there are no professional associations for waitresses or bartenders.