How to Create a Strong Restaurant Team

Understanding Restaurant Menus, Bars, and Common Problems

Educate staff on menu and drinks
Empower your restaurant staff to be the best at their job. Robert Owen-Wahl via Pixabay

Good restaurant staff is the backbone of any successful restaurant. Customers may come to your restaurant for the food, but if the service isn't friendly or timely, it will be hard to get them to come back. In an industry with an extremely high turnover rate, keeping good staff can be a challenge. Educating both new and old staff on your restaurant menu and bar selections will help empower them be the best salespeople possible.

Understand the Restaurant Menu

Before they step foot on the dining room floor, wait staff should understand the menu. They should know how to describe every single item on the menu. They should know what all the dishes look like and taste like. Offering a menu tasting every few months allows new staff to sample dishes and will better equip them to make suggestions to customers and answer any questions. It is also a good idea to offer a staff a tasting of new dinner specials. A bonus is that staff usually enjoys the free food and it can be a great team building activity.

Understand the Restaurant Bar

Just as you want your wait staff to be knowledgeable about your menu, you also want them to be well versed in your beverage selection. Even if wait staff don’t mix their own cocktails or pour their own beers, they should know what goes into common drinks, like martinis or cosmos and they should know what beers you have on draft and in bottles.

This way, they can upsell to second or top shelf liquors. Servers should also have full knowledge of the wine and beer menu, so that they can offer pairings with menu items. Your liquor/beer/wine sales rep can do a beverage training (not tasting) to help educate your staff about the subtle nuances in different types of alcoholic beverages.

(Important to note, that your sales rep should never charge you for a beverage training for your staff.) Ask every server to have one favorite wine, beer, and spirit selection at the ready, if a customer should ask. 

Know How to Handle Restaurant Problems

Along with understanding the basics of restaurant menus and restaurant bars, good restaurant staff know how to handle any problems that arise. They also know when they can’t handle a problem and call in the manager. The biggest problems most wait staff will encounter are unhappy customers. Maybe the customer’s dinner came out over-cooked, or it took too long. Even if the server thinks the customer is just being a pain-in-the-you-know-what, they should never ever show it. Know how to deal with unhappy customers is key to return business.

Another problem staff might encounter at one time or another are customers who have had too much to drink. Knowing how to safely serve alcohol as well as knowing how to handle drunk customers, can help restaurants and their staff avoid much serious problems.