One of the most important things to do as a server is Learn Your Menu. When customers have questions about which items can be altered, side dishes, does it come with soup or salad, you need to be prepared. The “let me go check” answer or lying to them is just going to get you in trouble down the road. It wastes your time and your customer’s time.
If you’re having problems memorizing all the details and specifications of the menu, here are a few tricks to make learning your menu that much easier.
Trick # 1 : Write or type out the menu
It may seem redundant and a little over the top, but that was the best way for me to learn my menu. Some people need to write things down in order to remember them for later. Take your menu home with you and copy it all out. Especially the descriptions. That way, when a customer asks “What’s your seafood linguini like?”, you can name the description right off the top of your head, including any little other tidbits you may know.
The worst kind of reply would be “Well…it’s linguini with seafood in it”. Avoid that response as much as possible. Think about it. What kind of sauce is it? What kind of seafood is in it exactly? What is the portion like? Is it served with anything else? Typing or writing out the menu along with the descriptions may be a way to learn your menu that you never thought of.
Trick #2 : Study with a partner
If you’re lucky enough, another waiter or waitress (if you’re training than possibly your trainer) may be up for studying the menu with you. If not, a friend will do but keep in mind they won’t be able to answer your questions if doubt does pop into your mind. Get the other person to quiz you, ask you questions that a real customer would, role play and act out the whole ordering process. The more you do this, the more comfortable you’ll feel about the menu and what to respond to customers.
Trick #3 : Make a photocopy of the menu
When making a photocopy of the menu, it allows you to jot down notes on the actual menu so that when you’re reading through it, you have visual cues on what you should be remembering. Highlight items, underline portion sizes, put stars next to the most popular plates, etc. Come up with a system that works for you.
Trick #4 : Read the WHOLE menu
Another trick that may sound obvious, but a lot of times servers just glance at the plates or the wine list, memorizing the names and descriptions. But what about those small little details in fine print? Sometimes menus have words written all over it and it’s hard to get through it all, but make sure you know every single word on there, including the small print that hardly anyone glances at. You don’t ever want a customer to know the menu more than you do. So if there are exceptions in the small print, added costs to meals written in italics, side dishes that are NOT included with the meal then you need to know them 100%
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