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Discover The Importance Of Proper Serving Trays

By Richard Saporito

In restaurant dining room service, the serving trays are one of the "tools" that the staff needs to perform their position properly.

The type of tray used must be the correct fit for the restaurant's menu and level of service. It is a simple, but major factor in how well the tables are cleared.

After finishing a service consulting job for a huge banquet operation that consisted of 3 gorgeous Romanesque style rooms, I noticed the many different types of serving trays that the restaurant was using.

This inconsistency made things cumbersome and a bit confusing for the dining room service staff. It actually took a bit of time and effort to figure out the best type of trays to use, and how it would improve the dining room service the most.

First, we started with over sized, silver trays, and finally finished up with medium and large sized brown trays that had a nice grip in the center surface part of the tray. The brown trays were the perfect fit and the staff thanked me greatly because there easiest to handle. Serving trays seem like such a trivial item in restaurants, yet if used incorrectly, it will have a negative effect on restaurant service and staff.

One of the main goals to keep in mind is to balance "what looks best in the dining room" to the logistics of actually getting the job done safely and in a sanitary manner.

The 3 simple but very important things for waitstaff to remember about tray service are:

1) Do not carry too many items on the tray at one time because it is dangerous.

2) Try not to carry too little at one time because it is wasted effort -- balance is the key.

3) Always separate the silverware on the tray, first -- off to one side, and then stack plates.

Here are some other important tray maintenance points:

1) There always must be enough trays available for service. Waitstaff must not be wasting time and effort searching for trays because there are not enough available.

2) There also must be proper, designated "easy access" storage areas for the trays when they are not in use. A good storage spot would be on a shelf relatively close to the kitchen doors, so waitstaff could easily place or retrieve before entering or exiting either the kitchen or the dining room areas.

3) All trays must be gathered and washed each and every night.

Also, in most cases, at least 2 different type of trays should be made available for dining room service. A set of small sized trays and a set of large sized trays.

Like customer service, serving trays seems like such a simple subject. But, when you really get down to all of the factors involved, things can become quite complex and should not be taken lightly. In some cases, the proper use of serving trays may also eliminate the need for buspans sitting in the dining room which can be a earsore and eyesore.

Are your serving trays the correct fit for your restaurant's menu and level of service? Have you checked the type of serving trays to see if they are benefiting your restaurant service to the fullest?

Richard Saporito is a NYC Restaurant Insider with more than 30 years experience. He is currently the President of Topserve Restaurant Consulting, Inc. and the author of "How To Improve Dining Room Service." Discover how to improve your restaurant's dining room service and dramatically increase your profits here.

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