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Food Attendant Duties and Responsibilities

Specific job duties for food attendants vary based on the restaurant where they work, the menu offerings available, and the food service stations present in the dining areas of the establishment. However, the core duties for this job are the same in all types of eateries:

Manage Buffet Food attendants organize and plate buffet items, break down and clean buffets, and refill foods on the buffet as necessary.

Stock Food Service Stations Food attendants resupply napkins, cutlery, dishes, and condiments on food service stations as needed during meal service.

Prep Meals and Drinks Food attendants assist with meal prep, making and serving items such as salads, in-house dressings, and specialty drinks.

Answer Phones Food attendants answer phones and take delivery orders from customers.

Clean Work Areas Food assistants clean all dining, food service, and kitchen areas before, during, and after meal service.

Follow Food Safety Guidelines At all times, food assistants follow all food safety standards and restaurant sanitation regulations. This includes washing hands, emptying trash, and cleaning dining areas.

Speak to Customers Food attendants answer customer questions and make menu suggestions to sell more items.

Collect Money Food attendants sometimes collect money on customer bills to assist cashiers and wait staff.


Food Attendant Skills and Qualifications

Food attendants are efficient, detail-oriented professionals who can communicate effectively with customers and all restaurant staff. Employers hiring food attendants look for candidates with the following skills:
  • Salesmanship - food attendants use sales skills to make menu suggestions to customers and convince them to buy more items
  • Customer service - food attendants address customer complaints, answer questions, and speak with customers to verify satisfaction, so employers look for professionals who display excellent customer service skills
  • Math skills - because food attendants collect money and suggest menu items, basic math skills are a necessity of the job
  • Physical stamina - food attendants stand for hours at a time, lift up to 50 pounds at once, and walk around dining room and kitchen areas, all of which require physical strength and endurance
  • Communication skills - food attendants use strong verbal communication skills to successfully speak with kitchen and dining room staff, customers, and managers

Food Attendant Education and Training

Food attendants must be at least 18 years of age. Many employers also require food attendants to have a high school diploma or equivalent. Previous experience working in a restaurant or kitchen environment is not required, but past work history in the industry can make candidates stand out against others competing for the same job. Because this is an entry-level job, food attendants go through a training period to learn protocols and procedures for working in kitchen and dining areas. This training period varies by employer but typically lasts one to two weeks.

Food Attendant Salary and Outlook

According to data compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, food and beverage serving and related workers (which includes food attendants) earn a median salary of $9.44 per hour, or $19,630 annually. There were more than 5 million jobs for food and beverage serving and related workers in 2016, and the category's job growth is projected to rise 14 percent through 2026. This is faster than the national job growth average. Food attendants do not typically receive benefits packages, though some employers may provide basic healthcare coverage to full-time employees. Worker's compensation is usually offered, but sick days and vacation days are not typical benefits.

Helpful Resources

Use these books and websites to find career opportunities and discover tips and strategies for becoming a food attendant:

Restaurant Workers Association - this website offers restaurant and hospitality workers of all types discounts on various business services, insurance benefits, industry news updates, and job opportunities

Cafeteria, Food Concession and Coffee Shop Counter Attendant Career - this straightforward guide explains all the steps of becoming a food attendant, from finding opportunities and nailing interviews to succeeding on the job

Association of Nutrition & Foodservice Professionals - find education resources, restaurant industry events, and information about professional food service standards at this website made for food attendants and all food service professionals

The Restaurant Worker's Handbook: A Practical Guide to Restaurant Magic - this practical guide was written for food attendants and restaurant workers to provide tips and strategies for all aspects of working in the food service industry

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