What is Restaurant? Classification, Types, Duties and Responsibilities of Restaurant Staff

  • Post last modified:20 April 2023
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What is Restaurant?

A restaurant is a retail establishment that serves prepared food to customers. Service is generally for eating on premises, though the term has been used to include take-out establishments and food delivery services. The term covers many types of venues and a diversity of styles of cuisine and service.

Restaurants are sometimes a feature of a larger complex, typically a hotel, where the dining amenities are provided for the convenience of the residents and, of course, for the hotel with a singular objective to maximize their potential revenue. Such restaurants are often also open to non-residents.

Restaurants range from unpretentious lunching or dining places catering to people working nearby, with simple food and fixed menu served in simple settings at low prices, to expensive establishments serving expensive specialty food and wines in a formal setting. In the former case, customers usually wear casual clothing. In the latter case, depending on culture and local traditions, customers might wear semi-casual, semi-formal, or even in rare cases formal wear.

Typically, customers sit at tables, their orders are taken by a waiter, who brings the food when it is ready, and the customers pay the bill before leaving. In a class or porch restaurant, there will be a host or hostess or even a maître d’hôtel to welcome customers and seat them. Other staff waiting on customers include busboys and sommeliers.

Classification of Restaurants

Restaurants can be classified by whether they provide places to sit, whether they are served by wait staff and the quality of the service, the formal atmosphere, and the price range. Restaurants are generally classified into three groups:

  • Quick Service – Also known as fast-food restaurants. They offer limited menus that are prepared quickly. They usually have drive-thru windows and take-out. They may also be self-service outfits.

  • Mid-scale – They offer full meals at a medium price that customers perceive as “good value.” They can be of full service, buffets, or limited service with customers ordering at the counter and having their food brought to them, or self-service.

  • Upscale – Offer high-quality cuisine at a high-end price. They offer full service and have a high-quality ambiance.

Types of Restaurants

Restaurants often specialize in certain types of food or present a certain unifying, and often entertaining, theme. For example, there are seafood restaurants, vegetarian restaurants, and ethnic restaurants. Generally speaking, restaurants selling “local” food are simply called restaurants, while restaurants selling food of foreign origin are called accordingly, for example, a Chinese restaurant and a French restaurant.

Depending on local customs and the policy of the establishment, restaurants may or may not serve alcoholic beverages. Restaurants are often prohibited from selling alcohol without a meal by alcohol sale laws; such sale is considered to be the activity for bars, which are meant to have more severe restrictions. Some restaurants are licensed to serve alcohol (‘fully licensed’), and/or permit customers to ‘bring your own’ alcohol.


A cafeteria is a restaurant serving mostly cooked ready food arranged behind a food-serving counter. There is little or no table service. Typically, a patron takes a tray and pushes it along a track in front of the counter. Depending on the establishment, servings may be ordered from attendants, selected as ready-made portions already on plates, or self-serve food of their own choice. In some establishments, a few items such as steaks may be ordered specially prepared rare, medium, and well done by the attendants.

The patron waits for those items to be prepared or is given a number and they are brought to the table. Beverages may be filled from self-service dispensers or ordered from the attendants. At the end of the line, a cashier rings up the purchases. At some self-service cafeterias, purchases are priced by weight, rather than by individual items.

The trays filled with selected items of food are taken to a table to eat. Institutional cafeterias may have common tables, but upscale cafeterias provide individual tables as in sit-down restaurants. Upscale cafeterias have traditional cutlery and crockery, and some have servers to carry the trays from the line to the patrons’ tables, and/ or bus the empty trays and used dishes.

Cafeterias have a wider variety of prepared foods. For example, it may have a variety of roasts (beef, ham, turkey) ready for carving by a server, as well as other cooked entrées, rather than simply an offering of hamburgers or fried chicken.

Fast-Food Restaurants

Fast-food restaurants emphasize speed of service and low cost over all other considerations. A common feature of newer fast-food restaurants that distinguishes them from traditional cafeterias is a lack of cutlery or crockery; the customer is expected to eat the food directly from the disposable container it was served in using their fingers.

There are various types of a fast-food restaurant:

  • one collects food from a counter and pays, then sits down and starts eating (as in a self-service restaurant or cafeteria); sub-varieties:

  • one collects ready portions

  • one serves oneself from containers

  • one is served at the counter

  • a special procedure is that one first pays at the cash desk, collects a coupon and then goes to the food counter, where one gets the food in exchange for the coupon.

  • one orders at the counter; after preparation, the food is brought to one’s table; paying may be upon ordering or after eating.

  • A drive-through is a type of fast-food restaurant without seating; diners receive their food in their cars and drive away to eat

Most fast-food restaurants offer take-out: ready-to-eat hot food in disposable packaging for the customer to eat off-site.

Casual Restaurants

A casual dining restaurant is a restaurant that serves moderately-priced food in a casual atmosphere. Except for buffet-style restaurants, casual dining restaurants typically provide table service. Casual dining comprises a market segment between fast food establishments and fine dining restaurants.

Fast Casual-Dining Restaurants

A fast-casual restaurant is similar to a fast-food restaurant in that it does not offer full table service but promises a somewhat higher quality of food and atmosphere. Average prices charged are higher than fast-food prices and non-disposable plates and cutlery are usually offered. This category is a growing concept that fills the space between fast food and casual dining.

Counter service accompanied by handmade food (often visible via an open kitchen) is typical. Alcohol may be served. Dishes like steak, which require experience on the part of the cook to get it right, may be offered. The menu is usually limited to an extended over-counter display, and options in the way the food is prepared are emphasized.

Many fast casual-dining restaurants are marketed as health-conscious: healthful items may have a larger number of items than the normal portion of the menu and high-quality ingredients such as free-range chicken and freshly made salsas may be advertised. Overall, the quality of the food is presented as a much higher class than conventional factory-made fast food. An obvious ethnic theme may or may not be present on the menu.

Other Restaurants

Most of these establishments can be considered subtypes of fast casual-dining restaurants or casual-dining restaurants.


Cafés and coffee shops are informal restaurants offering a range of hot meals and made-to-order sandwiches. Cafés offer table service. Many cafés are open for breakfast and serve full hot breakfasts. In some areas, cafés offer outdoor seating.


Coffeehouses are casual restaurants without table service that emphasize coffee and other beverages; typically a limited selection of cold foods such as pastries and perhaps sandwiches are offered as well. Their distinguishing feature is that they allow patrons to relax and socialize on their premises for long periods without pressure to leave promptly after eating.


A pub (short for public house) is a bar that serves simple food fare. Traditionally, pubs were primarily drinking establishments with food in a decidedly secondary position, whereas the modern pub business relies on food as well, to the point where gastropubs are known for their high-quality pub food. A typical pub has a large selection of beers and ales on tap.

Bistros and Brasserie

A brasserie is a café doubling as a restaurant and serving single dishes and other meals in a relaxed setting. A bistro is a familiar name for a café serving moderately priced simple meals in an unpretentious setting. Especially in Paris, bistros have become increasingly popular with tourists. When used in English, the term bistro usually indicates either a fast casual-dining restaurant with a European-influenced menu or a café with a larger menu of food.

Family Style

“Family style restaurants” are restaurants that have a fixed menu and fixed price, usually with diners seated at a communal table such as on bench seats. More common in the 19th and early 20th century, they can still be found in rural communities, as theme restaurants, or in vacation lodges. There is no menu to choose from; rather food is brought out in courses, usually with communal serving dishes, like at a family meal. Typical examples can include crab houses, German-style beer halls, BBQ restaurants, hunting lodges, etc. Some normal restaurants will mix elements of family style, such as a table salad or bread bowl that is included as part of the meal.

BYO Restaurant

BYO restaurants are restaurants and bistros which do not have a liquor license.

Delicatessens Restaurant

Restaurants offering foods intended for immediate consumption. The main product line is normally luncheon meats and cheeses. They may offer sandwiches, soups, and salads as well. Most foods are pre-cooked before delivery. The preparation of food products is generally simple and only involves one or two steps.

Ethnic Restaurants

They range from quick service to upscale. Their menus usually include ethnic dishes and/or authentic ethnic foods. Specialize in a particular multicultural cuisine not specifically accommodated by any other listed categories. Examples: Asian Cuisine, Chinese cuisine, Indian Cuisine, American Cuisine, etc.

Destination Restaurants

A destination restaurant has a strong enough appeal to draw customers from beyond its community. Example: Michelin Guide 3-star restaurant in Europe, which according to the restaurant guides is “worthy of a journey”.

Staff Organisation

Staff organization is concerned with matters such as the decision of tasks within the restaurant, position of responsibility and authority, and the relationship between them. It helps in introducing the concepts of a span of control, level of management, and delegation of power and responsibilities. The typical organization chart of the Restaurant brigade is shown in However, smaller organizations may combine several responsibilities according to the needs of the particular facility.

The various positions in the Restaurant Brigade are referred to differently in the French, American, and English hotel industries. The list below gives the different versions.

Maître D’hôtel RéceptionSenior Captain ReceptionHead Waiter Reception
Maître D’hôtel De CarréSenior Captain StationHead Waiter Station
Chef De RangCaptainStation Head
Demi Chef De RangAssistant CaptainWaiter
Commis DebarsseurAssistant Steward/ Bus BoyAssistant Waiter
Restaurant Brigade Positions in Different Countries

Duties and Responsibilities of Restaurant Staff

All types of catering establishments require a variety of staff positions to operate effectively and efficiently. The food and beverage service department usually has the largest staff. Able leadership and supervision are required to effectively direct the department and guide the staff. The personnel in the food and beverage service industry require practical knowledge of operations as even a small error can cause displeasure to the guest.

Coordination of activities of all outlets is essential to provide the guest with quality service at all times. Teamwork is the watchword in any food and beverage service department. A dedicated and committed team, with able leadership, under ideal working conditions, helps in fulfilling the establishment’s ultimate goal of guest satisfaction.

The important duties and responsibilities of the restaurant staff are discussed in this section.

Food and Beverage Manager

The food and beverage manager is the head of the food and beverage service department and is responsible for its administrative and operational work. Food and Beverage Managers direct, plan, and control all aspects of food and beverage services.

Food and Beverage Managers require excellent sales and customer service skills, proven human resource management skills, and good communication and leadership skills. Desired knowledge for this position includes knowledge of the products, services, sector, industry, and local area, and knowledge of relevant legislation and regulations, as well. Hence it is said that the food and beverage manager is a Jack-of-all-trades, as the job covers a wide variety of duties.

In general, the food and beverage manager is responsible for:

  • Budgeting: The food and beverage manager is responsible for preparing the budget for the department. He should ensure that each outlet in the department achieves the estimated profit margins.

  • Compiling New Menus and Wine Lists: In consultation with the chef, and based on the availability of ingredients and prevailing trends, the food and beverage manager should update and if necessary, compile new menus. New and updated wine lists should also be introduced regularly.

  • Quality Control: The food and beverage manager should ensure quality control in terms of efficiency in all service areas, by ascertaining that the staff is adequately trained in keeping with the standards of the unit.

  • Manpower Development: The food and beverage manager is responsible for recruitment, promotions, transfers, and dismissals in the department. He should hold regular meetings with section heads, to ensure that both routines, as well as projected activities of the department, go on as planned. He must also give training, motivate and effectively control staff.

Assistant Food and Beverage Manager

The assistant food and beverage manager assists the food and beverage manager in running the department by being more involved in the actual day-to-day operations. This position exists only in large organizations. An assistant food and beverage manager’s job includes:

  • Assisting section heads during busy periods.

  • Taking charge of an outlet, when an outlet manager is on leave.

  • Setting duty schedules for all the outlet managers and monitoring their performance.

  • Running the department independently in the absence of the food and beverage manager.

Restaurant Manager

The Restaurant Manager is responsible for directing and supervising all activities about employee relations, food production, sanitation, guest service, and operating profits. The restaurant manager is either the coffee shop manager, bar manager, or specialist restaurant manager. The restaurant manager reports directly to the food and beverage manager and has overall responsibility for the organization and administration of a particular outlet or a section of the food and beverage service department. The restaurant manager’s job includes:

  • Setting and monitoring the standards of service in the outlets.

  • Administrative duties such as setting duty charts, granting leave, monitoring staff positions, recommending staff promotions, and handling issues relating to discipline.

  • Training the staff by conducting a daily briefing in the outlet.

  • Playing a vital role in public relations, meeting guests in the outlets, and attending to guest complaints, if any.

  • Formulating the sales and expenditure budget for the outlet.

  • Planning food festivals to increase revenue and organizing advertisement campaigns for the outlet along with the chef and the food and beverage manager.

Room Service Manager

The room service manager reports directly to the food and beverage manager and is responsible for the room service outlet. The room service manager checks that the service rendered to the guests conforms to the standards set by the hotel. He also monitors all operational aspects of the outlet such as service, billing, duty charts, leave, and absenteeism, in addition to attending to guest complaints regarding food and service.

The room service manager is also in charge of the sales and expenditure budget. The room service is most liable to have problems. The room service manager should ensure coordination among the room service order taker, the captain, and the waiter. The room service manager must be present in the outlet during peak hours to interact with other departments of the hotel and to take regular momentums of all the equipment used In the event of the hotel offers valet service and the room service manager takes charge of that service as well.

Bar Manager

Bar Manager organizes and controls a bar’s operations. A bar manager arranges the purchase and pricing of beverages according to budget; selects, trains, and supervises bar staff; maintains records of stock levels and financial transactions; makes sure bar staff follow liquor laws and regulations; and checks on customer satisfaction and preferences.

The bar manager should have good interpersonal skills and good memory. He must be efficient and speedy and must enjoy working with people. He should have good cash-handling skills.

Banquet Manager

The banquet manager supervises the banquet operations and sets up break-down service according to the standards established by the hotel. He coordinates the banquet service in conjunction with other departments involved and prepares weekly schedules for the banquet personnel.

From the time the bookings are done till the guest settles the bill, the banquet manager is in charge of all aspects of banquet and conference operations. He supervises the work of the banquet sales assistants, who do the banquet bookings, and the captains and waiters who perform the food and beverage service activities under his guidance. He is responsible for organizing everything right down to the finest detail.

The banquet manager projects the budget for the banquets and works in close coordination with the chef in preparing menus. He is responsible for making an inventory of all the banquet equipment and maintaining a balance between revenue and expenditure.

Banquet managers may also be designated as assistant managers in the food and beverage service department.

Other Staff Designations at Various Levels

The following are the various designations with their job specifications in the food and beverage department.

Senior Captain or Maitre d’ Hotel

The senior captain has overall responsibility for operations. He prepares the duty charts in consultation with the outlet manager. He oversees the Mise-en-place, cleaning, setting up of the outlet, and staffing to ensure that the outlet is always ready for service. The senior captain receives the guests and hands them over to the captain or station holder. He takes orders from guests if the captain is unable to do so. The senior captain should be an able organizer and also be prepared to take over the duties of any member of the staff as and when required.

Reception Head Waiter

This staff member is responsible for accepting any booking and for keeping the booking diary up-to-date. He/she will reserve tables and allocate these reservations to particular stations. The reception head waiter greets guests on arrival and takes them to the table and seats them.

Captain / Chef de Rang

This position exists in large restaurants, as well as in the food and beverage service department of all major hotels. The captain is a supervisor and is in charge of a particular section. A restaurant may be divided into sections called Stations, each consisting of 4 to 5 tables or 20 to 24 covers. A captain is responsible for the efficient performance of the staff in his station.

A captain should possess a sound knowledge of food and beverage, and be able to discuss the menu with the guests. He should be able to take a guest’s order and be an efficient salesperson. Specialized service such as gueridon work involves a certain degree of skill, and it is the captain who usually takes the responsibility to do this work.

Waiters / Commis de Rang / Server

The waiters serve the food and beverage ordered by a guest and are part of a team under a station captain. They should be able to perform the duties of a captain to a certain extent and be a substitute for the captain if he is busy or not on duty. They should; also be knowledgeable about all types of food and beverages, so that they can effectively take an order from a guest, execute the order and serve the correct dish with its appropriate garnish and accompaniment. They should be able to efficiently coordinate with the other staff in the outlet.

Trainee / Commis De Barraseur

The trainees work closely with the waiters, fetching orders from the kitchen and the bar, and clearing the side station in a restaurant. They serve water and assist the waiter. They are mainly responsible for the mise-en-place, and stacking the sideboard with the necessary service equipment. The debarrasseur is the ‘learner’, having just joined the food service staff, and possibly wishing to take up food service as a career.

Wine Waiter / Sommelier

Wine waiters have an important role to play in reputed establishments. Their job is to take orders for the service of wine and alcoholic beverages and serve them during the meal. Hence they should be knowledgeable about wines that accompany a particular dish and how they should be served. They should also be aware of the licensing laws prevalent in the city and should be efficient salespersons.

Room Service Waiters / Chef D’etage

Room service waiters work in the room service outlet, serving food and beverage to guests in their rooms. The order is placed by the guest on the telephone and is recorded on a Kitchen Order Ticket (K.O.T). It is then passed on to the duty captain. The duty captain in turn places the order in the kitchen or the bar, as the case may be. The room service waiter who has been assigned that order sets the tray according to the food or beverage ordered, and picks up and delivers the order when it is ready.

Carver / Trancheur

The carver is responsible for the carving trolley and the carving of joints at the table as required. The carver will plate up each portion with the appropriate accompaniment.

Floor Service Staff / Floor Waiter

The floor service staffs are often responsible for an entire floor in an establishment or, depending on the size of the establishment, several rooms or suites. Floor service of all meals and breakfast is offered either throughout the day or for a limited time depending on the size of the establishment. The floor service staff would normally work from a floor pantry or from a central kitchen with all food and drink reaching the appropriate floor and the required room by lift and in a heated trolley.

Lounge staff / Chef de sale

Lounge staff may deal with lounge service as a specific duty only in a first-class establishment. The lounge staff is responsible for the service of morning coffee, afternoon teas, aperitifs, and liqueurs before and after both lunch and dinner, and any coffee top-ups required after meals. They would be responsible for setting up the lounge in the morning and maintaining its cleanliness and presentation throughout the day.

Cocktail Bar Staff

The person who works on the cocktail bar must be responsible, well versed in the skills of shaking and stirring cocktails, and should have a thorough knowledge of all alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, the ingredients necessary for the making of cocktails, and the licensing laws.

Buffet Assistant / Buffet Chef / Chef de buffet

The chef de buffet is in charge of the buffet in the room, its presentation, the carving and portioning of food, and its service. This staff would normally be a member of the kitchen team. The cashier is responsible for the takings of the food and beverage operation. This may include making up bills from food and drink checks or in a cafeteria, for example, charging customers for their selection of items on a tray.

Counter Assistants

Counter assistants are found in cafeterias where they would stock the counter and sometimes serve or portion food for customers. Duties may also include some cooking of call order items.

Table Clearers

Table clearers are responsible for clearing tables and trolleys, specially designed for good stacking of crockery, glassware, cutlery, etc.

Article Reference
  • Sudan Amrik Singh (2002), Restaurant Management, Anmol Publications.

  • Dennis R. Lillicrap, John A Cousins (1991), Food and Beverage Service, Elbs.

  • Loftus David (2007), Restaurant Notes, Ryland Peters & Small.

  • Sudhir Andrews (1980), Food and Beverage Service Manual, Tata McGraw Hill.

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