Food Runner Job Description
While Food Runners serve many purposes, their primary function is to act as a liaison between a restaurant’s guests, wait staff and kitchen staff. They are in charge of delivering food to the appropriate table at the appropriate time, assisting customers with any issues that may arise and coordinating with the kitchen staff to properly prioritize orders.
Food Runners can be employed by any type of establishment which serves food to seated customers, from bars to coffee shops to fine dining restaurants. Food Runners work in a restaurant environment, and frequently switch between working in the front of the house and working in the back of the house.
Food Runner Duties and Responsibilities
In order to sure that all customers receive and are happy with their food, Food Runners perform a wide array of tasks. We analyzed various online job postings to identify these key duties and responsibilities.
As their name would suggest, the main responsibility of Food Runners is to “run” food from the kitchen to waiting customers or to members of the wait staff. This involves lifting trays, plates and glasses, sometimes multiple at one time.
One of the most important duties performed by Food Runners is that of dealing with customer questions and complaints. If customers are unhappy with their food or the service they’ve been provided, it is typically up to the Food Runner to identify the problem and address it accordingly. And, an ongoing basis, Food Runners will need to refill guests’ drinks.
Since members of the wait staff are often busy attending to other tables, Food Runners will usually be charged with greeting guests, providing them with menus and explaining items on the menu to them.
As the liaison between the back of house and front of house, it’s crucial that Food Runners inspect food orders for accuracy and presentability before it is handed over to members of the wait staff.
After guests have left the restaurant, Food Runners need to clear and clean their table, bring dirty dishes back to the kitchen and, depending on if the restaurant employs a dish washer, wash used dishes to prepare them for the next guests’ use.
Food Runner Skills
Successful Food Runners are energetic and detail-oriented individuals. They can effortlessly switch between working “behind the scenes” and “in the spotlight,” and are just as comfortable speaking with customers as they are speaking with coworkers. In addition to these general skills and personality traits, employers are seeking Food Runners with the following skills and responsibilities.
Physical stamina - Because Food Runners must be standing and walking on their feet all day while simultaneously carrying food orders, it is important that they have a moderate to high level of physical stamina.
Communication skills - As the primary liaison between customers, wait staff and kitchen staff, Food Runners must have excellent communication skills, particularly when it comes to verbal interactions.
Attention to detail - In order to adequately clean tables and reliably identify when food going out of the kitchen isn’t up to par, Food Runners must have exceptional attention to detail.
Speed - Many aspects of a Food Runner’s job depend on the effective and efficient completion of tasks. Because of this, they must be able to move and act quickly, whether they’re walking food from the kitchen to the dining room, refilling drinks or clearing tables.
Accurate memory - Food Runners must remember which numbers are assigned to which tables, which waiters are serving which tables, which customers have made complaints and which customers have already received drink refills. Thus, they must be able to accurately recall small details.
Food Runner Salary
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for Combined Food Preparation and Serving Workers, which includes Food Runners, is $19,440, with the lowest paid earning $16,810 per year and the highest paid earning $25,330 per year. Food Runners in the District of Columbia, Washington and North Dakota make the highest median salary in the United States, earning $23,430, $23,300 and $22,880 per year respectively.
Food Runner Tools of the Trade
In order to accomplish their daily tasks, Food Runners use a variety of tools. If you plan on becoming a Food Runner, make sure that you feel comfortable using the following.
Standard restaurant equipment - Depending on the needs of the kitchen and wait staff, Food Runners may need to operate dishwashers, industrial sinks, ovens, walk-in refrigerators and more.
Point of Sale (POS) systems - In the process of greeting customers, taking drink orders or preparing bills for waiters, Food Runners may need to use a POS system to record purchases.
Additional Food Runner Resources
We put together the following list of resources to help you continue exploring your career as a Food Runner.
Restaurant Network - With more than 85,000 members, this LinkedIn group is an ideal place for restaurant workers of all levels to connect and share ideas.
Food & Beverage Network - Join more than 40,000 LinkedIn members who use this group to network and discuss relevant topics.
Restaurant Opportunities Centers United - Also known as ROC United, this organization strives to improve wages and working conditions for the millions of Americans who work in restaurants. Here, you can catch up on restaurant industry news, access resources and become a member.
Lessons in Service from Charlie Trotter - From Food Runners to Executive Chefs, everyone in the restaurant industry can learn a thing or two about service from Charlie Trotter, a winner of the James Beard Foundation’s Outstanding Restaurant Award.
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