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What is a fine dining server?

Serving in fine dining restaurants can be both an enjoyable and lucrative career. Many servers enjoy the thrill of fast-paced restaurants and find fulfillment in providing high-quality service to guests.

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What is a fine dining server?

Fine dining servers provide an upscale, curated dining experience for every guest at a fine dining or “white tablecloth” establishment. 

Fine dining servers are renowned for providing extraordinary customer service that draws from their extensive knowledge of flavor profiles and pairings. They are expected to have the restaurant’s menu, specials, and wine list memorized to answer questions and make recommendations to customers without delay.

Fine dining servers must be able to work with a team of bartenders, bussers, food runners, and kitchen staff in order to ensure that each guest’s meal experience is seamless. Servers in fine dining restaurants must be professional and adhere to the steps of service.

What are a fine dining server’s duties and responsibilities?

Fine dining servers need specialized skills to execute their duties and responsibilities, which include:

  • Strong customer service skills and soft-skills
  • Strong memorization tactics, both for the menu and for guests orders
  • The Steps of Service for fine dining establishments
  • Deep knowledge about the restaurant’s food and wine menu, including the ingredients, what pairs well together
  • The ability to make recommendations based on a guest's palate and preferences
  • Multitasking and anticipating guest’s needs
  • Communicating with staff
  • Knowing and adhering to food safety standards
  • Preparing and corking wine bottles for service

How much are fine dining servers paid?

Fine dining servers earn between $49,700 and $58,000 annually, on average, but because of tips, those wages can fluctuate. The amount a fine dining server earns is also dependent on the restaurant where they work and the volume of their sales.

What are the qualities that make a good fine dining server?

Attention to detail and the ability to multitask are two important qualities of a good fine dining server. Servers must be able to attend to the needs of several groups of guests at the same time while executing the proper steps of service. 

Good fine dining servers also need excellent interpersonal skills. Guests expect a highly-curated experience at a fine dining restaurant, and it’s the server’s job to embody the restaurant’s atmosphere. Fine dining servers must be comfortable explaining the menu, ingredients, flavor profiles, and pairings, and know how to read a table.

Fine dining servers have to be able to work as a team. Often, they work with hosts, food runners, bussers, bartenders, kitchen staff, and other servers to ensure that every guest’s experience is enjoyable. That requires constant communication about different guests’ needs with the other members of the team.

How to become a fine dining server

Fine dining servers don not typically require formal education or certifications, since most restaurants expect to train servers on the job, though previous serving experience is a plus. Landing a position as a fine dining server might require a proven record of experience and demonstrating the necessary skills.

Browsing online job boards is a good way to figure out which fine dining restaurants in your area are hiring servers. The management staff is often impressed with people who take the initiative to visit the restaurant and introduce themselves in person.

When interviewing for a job as a fine dining server, impress the interviewer with your knowledge of food and beverage. Show the management team that you’re passionate about excellent customer service and that you will go above and beyond to make customers’ experiences memorable.

How to hire a fine dining server

When looking to hire a fine dining server, start by making a list of the skills and qualifications that you expect candidates to have. Then, find out what shifts your restaurant needs to fill and be upfront with servers about scheduling.

Posting job ads online can help to bring in lots of applications but they might not always have the right combination of skills and experience for your restaurant. When setting interviews, call candidates who have a history of serving experience, preferably in similar restaurant environments. Verify a candidate’s experience and qualifications before hiring.

Decide how much training you plan to give new hires and make that training period clear to the server from the start. Set clear benchmarks for servers to meet during each training shift and how long they will have to get acquainted with the menu and steps of service

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