A Restaurant Wait Station Checklist

Everything You'll Need 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 to grab a teapot and a box of tea only to realize that there's nothing available there and waiting for you.

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

It's a fast track to 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. It won't be pretty and it's aggravation you don't need. 

Make a Checklist 

Keep staff conflict to a minimum and your restaurant running smoothly by keeping a checklist for a well-stocked wait station. Larger restaurants sometimes have several wait stations, while smaller restaurants can usually run smoothly with just one. 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. 

Depending on the layout of your restaurant, some wait stations can also act as dessert and salad stations. In other restaurants, the kitchen staff prepares these items.

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 constant 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 - hopefully you won't ever need this!

Maintaining Your Wait Station 

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

Along with stocking items at each shift, your staff should also be cleaning their respective areas. Check out our restaurant cleaning list for complete daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly cleaning tasks that will keep your restaurant looking as good as it did on opening day.