Dining Etiquette Series – Other Dining Service Personnel



Forget the Oscars! See Who’s Rolling Out The Red Carpet for you!

In addition to the wait staff, there are other restaurant or hotel staff members who contribute to your dining experience. They are also important to your experience and it is vital to recognize and appreciate their contributions. They include the following positions:


The person who takes your reservation over the phone may be the first contact you have with the restaurant. Be clear on the day, date, time, number in your party and the name under which the reservation should be placed. Make a note of the name of the person to whom you spoke, the date and time you made the reservation and, if possible, a reservation confirmation number. Because reservation mix-ups can occur, website and email reservations have become popular as they provide a black and white record of the reservation details. During busy times at some establishments, anyone can take over reservationist duties, even the owner or manager of the establishment!

Parking Valet

The parking valet will likely be the first service person on site that you will meet in person. He or she will be in charge of your vehicle, so you should smile and treat her with deference. There is no need to tip the valet when you drop off your car, but a tip will be expected when it is returned to you.

Coat-Check Attendant

The coat-check attendant will take your coats, hats, gloves, umbrellas, and briefcases and laptops. Of course, you don’t have to check anything that you don’t wish to check, but you also don’t want to carry an array of items to the dining table that will not be needed. Handbags, purses, evening bags and the like are not checked, but taken with you to the dining table. Unless otherwise instructed, you should tip coat-check attendants upon retrieving all of your checked items.


In less formal and casual restaurants, the check is often paid directly to the cashier, and a cash tip is usually left on the table.

The Chef

The Executive Chef is in charge of the kitchen and its staff. Sometimes a chef becomes famous and opens his – or her — own restaurant, such as Anita Lo, Mario Batali, Alice Watersand Michael Symon have done.

The sous chef (pronounced SOO) is the second in command in the kitchen.

On some occasions, the chef has been asked to come to the dining room following the meal to take bow. Therefore, when ordering keep in mind that the people working on your order are often consummate professionals who are very proud of their work. If your order should be wrong or less than perfect, it’s best not to create a disruption by sending it back. The exceptions would be if you’re allergic to the substitution or the food is tainted or spoiled. In any case, being diplomatic and gracious with regard to a mistake will demonstrate your sophistication and prowess, greatly impressing your prospective employer or client.

(Note: When the chef offers specials the waiter usually will not include the prices of the specials. If you are the guest, it’s advisable not to order a special unless your host encourages you to do so. If you are the host and feel uncomfortable about asking for prices in front of your guests, try calling the restaurant on the day of the reservation and politely request a list of the specials and prices for lunch or dinner. Some restaurants considerately provide a separate written menu of specials and prices.)

A Word about the Hospitality Industry

If you are a student or grad who has not yet decided on a career path, and if you like working with people, planning and organizing events and entertaining you might consider the hospitality industry. Following are some professional-level careers that can be self-contained or provided stepping stones to other positions or careers:

  • Hotel General Manager
  • Event Planner (Weddings, Meetings, Conventions, etc.)
  • Maître d’hôtel
  • Waiter
  • Executive and Sous Chefs
  • Sales and Marketing Executives and Staff

Many of these positions can command high salaries and supplemental compensation, as well as evolve into one’s own business. They all require a strong business etiquette skills, especially dining prowess. For a forecast of this exciting industry, click here.

Until next time,


2 thoughts on “Dining Etiquette Series – Other Dining Service Personnel

  1. Jeanne Nelson says:

    Thank you, An, for sharing this. I read the article, as well, and agree that it is lovely to read about well-behaved youngsters who demonstrate good table manners! They certainly set an excellent example for everyone to follow.


  2. An Nguyen says:

    I was reading this article on yahoo.com and there was this family who got a very heart warming receipt. The kids at the table got free ice scream from a formal restaurant because the kids were well behaved. The kids were 8,10 and 12 or younger I don't remember how old they were but they would always say please and thank you to the staff when they brought their food out.Pretty awesome!You would never see this at a formal restaurant where the kids are fighting and playing around the table.Way to go parents!!!!


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