How to Place Food on a Restaurant Table


When serving dishes to a restaurant customer, the method of service is almost as important as the quality of the food. A guest does not wish to have the server's elbows in his face. Nor does he want fingers on his plate or around the rim of his glass. Proper table service is clean, efficient and elegant. A server should be of little note to guests unless additional assistance is needed. Practicing proper service etiquette is also good hygiene.


  • Bring small appetizer plates to the table before the appetizer arrives. Bring as many plates as there are guests at the table.

  • Carry the appetizer out to the table without making contact with the top of the dish.

  • Place the appetizer in front of the guest who ordered it. Serve from the left, using the left hand.

  • Clear the appetizer plates and dishes when guests are finished eating. Avoid starting entrée service before guests are finished with the appetizer.

  • Inspect glasses. If they are half empty, refill them.


  • Carry the plate to the table with your left hand with your palms and fingers underneath the plate. Your fingers should not rest on the top of plate. If you're carrying multiple plates, carry the first plate to be served with your left hand.

  • Hook the left thumb under toward the side of the bottom of the plate for balance before serving the guest. The palm should remain as close to the center of the plate as possible, with the other fingers spread wide.

  • Place the plate in front of the guest who ordered it using an open approach. Serve from the left, using the left hand.

  • Withdraw the hand from underneath the plate. Hold the plate steady and straight to prevent the food from sliding on the plate.

  • Repeat the procedures for serving entrées to all remaining guests.

  • Refill guests' beverages.

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