Everything Your Restaurant Needs for a Well Stocked Wait Station

Waitress in a Restaurant
••• Thomas Barwick/Getty Images 

A poorly stocked wait station is the biggest pet peeve of almost every server and of restaurant owners as well. There's nothing worse than reaching for a teapot or a box of tea only to realize that there's nothing there.

Making sure your wait stations are well stocked before every shift should be part of your staff's daily side work. At the end of each shift, your employees shouldn't leave until all the sugars have been filled and the ketchup bottles have been cleaned and filled. Coffee mugs and teacups should be restocked, along with rolled silverware.

You're asking for staff problems and unhappiness if you don't make sure each shift does their fair share of the side work. Your night shift will be rumbling with the day shift in the parking lot during shift change before you know it.

Make a Checklist 

Keep your restaurant running smoothly by posting a checklist for a well-stocked wait station that the staff can refer to while re-stocking.

If you're new to the business, think of it as the instrument panel in a plane's cockpit or the file room in a law office. Anything anyone might need is there, right at their fingertips and in a logical place. Larger restaurants sometimes have several wait stations, while smaller restaurants get by with one.

What to Include 

Here's a list of common items your staff will appreciate finding in this area. 

  • Refrigerator for storing desserts, salads, dressings, and other items that require cooling
  • Salad plates if the servers are in charge of making salads
  • Dessert plates
  • Soup warmer if the servers are in charge of serving soups
  • Soup bowls
  • Soup cups
  • Soup spoons
  • Soup crackers
  • Soup ladles
  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee mugs
  • Teapots
  • Water pitchers
  • Water glasses
  • Saucers
  • Silverware
  • Sugar packets
  • Dinner mints
  • Extra salt and pepper shakers 
  • Extra sugar holders 
  • Paper or linen napkins
  • Tablecloths or place mats
  • Take-out boxes
  • Take-out soup cups
  • Take-out coffee cups
  • Take-out flatware
  • Plastic or paper bags
  • Plastic wrap
  • POS system
  • Marker board for writing down inventory
  • Extra ordering pads
  • Serving trays
  • Garbage pail
  • Garbage bags
  • Broom
  • Dustpan
  • Vacuum or carpet sweeper
  • Floor mats
  • Cleaning rags
  • Hand soap or sanitizer dispenser
  • Paper towel dispenser
  • Fire extinguisher

Depending on the layout of your restaurant, some wait stations can also act as dessert and salad stations, so those ingredients must be there. In other restaurants, the kitchen staff prepares these items for pick-up as ordered.

Maintaining Your Wait Station 

When you keep your wait station fully stocked and clean at every shift, your employees will be able to do their jobs more efficiently. This makes them happier and will lead to improved customer service. And that's good for your restaurant's bottom line.