Serving and Seating Do's and Dont's
The etiquette required of the hotel wait staff at a hotel restaurant must be stricter and more refined than the etiquette required of the wait staff at a chain restaurant. Guests who visit hotels expect to be pampered and treated with the highest regard, and these common do's and don'ts for seating and serving hotel guests will ensure that their expectations are met or even exceeded.
When seating guests, the ladies in a party are traditionally guided to their seats before the gentlemen. Hotel wait staff should assume the responsibility of pulling out chairs for female guests. This is an act of courtesy and chivalry, and many customers will notice these small efforts and be very grateful. Depending on the standards of your dining room, it may also be necessary for wait staff to watch guests and monitor their movement. If a female guest must leave the table at any given time, her chair should be pulled back, and her napkin should be folded while she is absent. When the guest returns, it is the responsibility of the wait staff to ensure that she is properly seated.
Gentlemen in a party, on the other hand, are often responsible for their own seats. If you have a minimal staff serving at dinner, remind your staff to focus on the female guests and let the male guests pull their own seats back. If, however, you have numerous staff, you can provide the same level of attention to all guests.
Serving guests is another important part of dining etiquette in a hotel. In a traditional dining setting, wait staff are encouraged to serve guests from over their left shoulders using the left hand to place plates and dishes directly on the table. When guests are finished with their meal, the dishes are removed over the right shoulder by using the right hand. These rules have become relaxed in the past few decades, as modern hotel dining rooms often make it impossible to follow these strict standards. Common sense is usually recommended for hotel wait staff. However, staff should be reminded that it is never appropriate to reach over a guest to serve another guest. Treat the space in front of each guest like his or her own personal property.
Beverage glasses, such as water or soft drink glasses, should be kept filled at all times. It is not necessary for a waiter to ask whether a customer would like his or her drinking glass refilled. In an upscale hotel dining room, the drinks should be constantly refilled. If your hotel dining room processes checks after dinner rather than charging the meal to a room, the check should be given to the leader of the party. If in doubt, it is acceptable to discreetly ask a male member of the party to whom the check should be given.
Etiquette in seating and serving guests can do wonders for the impression that your hotel establishment makes on the guests who visit you. A few simple techniques, and a lot of careful training, will ensure that your hotel stands out from the crowd.