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What does a Banquet Server do?

By G. Wiesen
Updated: Mar 02, 2024

A banquet server is responsible for preparing the tables and banquet area before guests arrive, effectively serving a number of different dishes and courses to guests during a meal, and clearing the tables and banquet area after the guests depart. Banquets are most often held at hotels, resorts, or private clubs for large events and parties. This means that there may be 100 or more guests to be efficiently and pleasantly served during the course of an event. A server effectively tends to those needs, with duties similar to a restaurant waiter but working in a more team-focused way.

The responsibilities of a banquet server begin before the guests arrive. Prior to the event beginning, servers will prepare the banquet area for the event, which typically involves setting out linens on tables, setting silverware and napkins on the tables, and preparing anything else that may eventually be set at the tables, such as salt, pepper, or bread and rolls. While this individual will not necessarily cook or prepare any of the food, he or she should become familiar with the menu and the dishes being served to better assist guests with questions about the meal.

During the actual event, a server is responsible for the serving of the various dishes and courses. These are typically served beginning with the women at a table, and serving dishes from the left side of a guest. After a dish is finished, the empty plates or bowls should be removed from the right side so that further dishes can come in from the left. Between courses, servers are often responsible for keeping glasses full of water or any other beverages being served. This continues throughout the meal until the final course has been served and finally cleared away from the tables.

After the guests depart, a banquet server will then work to clear away all dishes or glasses left at the tables. These are brought by the servers to the dishwashing stations for dishwashers to clean. The server is then responsible for clearing away anything else from the tables, such as linens or table decorations to finish the event.

Banquet servers typically need to be able to work together to see an entire event successfully completed and ensure the satisfaction of every guest in the room. They often need excellent customer service skills and the ability to multitask to assist multiple guests at any given time. Some employers will also insist that workers be 21 years of age to be able to serve alcoholic beverages to guests, depending on the local liquor laws.

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Discussion Comments
By anon942132 — On Mar 25, 2014

I am a banquet server, and this is a pretty good summary but the job involves a bit more. A banquet server must be physically strong, as we carry large heavy trays and move tables. Some banquet servers do receive tips on top of a larger hourly wage. We are paid more because the hours are longer and the work can be more physically demanding at times.

It is very much about team work and timing, and is usually a lot more formal than most restaurants. It's also a fun job, I've met all sorts of interesting people and heard some great music on the job.

By KaBoom — On May 17, 2012

It seems like banquet servers do a lot! Not only do they set up the room, they serve all the food, and the clean everything up. No wonder a banquet server salary is larger than a regular server's hourly wage.

I suppose it might even out in the end though. Near me, most banquet servers make something like $14 an hour, but a regular server can make a few hundred dollars in cash on a good night. I'm not sure if it's worth the trade off to have guaranteed money, or if it's better to take your chances and work as a restaurant server!

By starrynight — On May 17, 2012

@Monika - Your description sounds about right. A few of my friends were party banquet servers at a swanky hotel when we were in college. I don't remember them talking about getting tipped very often.

However, they did complain about the customers a lot. Since the hotel they worked at was very expensive, it tended to attract a lot of snooty rich people who treated the banquet servers with a lot of condescension. My friends definitely did not enjoy that part of the job, but it paid well, so they put up with it!

By Monika — On May 16, 2012

I have worked as a server in a regular restaurant, and my sister has worked as a banquet server in receptions halls. So I can tell you that banquet servers and restaurants servers jobs are pretty different!

The biggest difference is that restaurant servers are usually paid a very small hourly wage, and tipped by the guests. However, tipping isn't customary at banquets, so banquet servers make a higher hourly rate and no tips.

Also, a lot of times at a banquet everyone is eating the same thing, so the banquet servers don't have to take orders like restaurant servers do. They just bring the food and fill up the drinks!

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