How To Handle Spills as a Waiter

Whether you are a waiter, a bartender, or a restaurant manager, you will most likely encounter accidental spills. It should not be seen as a misfortune but as an opportunity for you to show how well you handle yourself and the situation.

When faced with a spill, take note of the following steps to handle accidents gracefully:

  • Do not panic. Maintain composure and reassure them that it was an accident. The customers may become embarrassed and lose their calm but you should never lose yours.
  • Be the first to come to their aid. Whenever a spill occurs, you should prioritize it over all else. If you are doing something, try to excuse yourself for a moment to help the other table. You can bring a piece of napkin to wipe off the spilled drink, remove any broken glass, or just offer some comforting words. You can also ask help from other people to promptly fix the situation. It will show the customers that you care about their dining experience.
  • Clean the spill. Do it as quickly as you can. Reassure them that accidents happen and that you are not in any way inconvenienced. Help your customers back to their seats. Start off by wiping the spill with a clean towel from the edge of the table to the center. If you do it the opposite way, from the center to the edge, there is a higher chance of spilling the drink on someone else’s lap. Remove all spilled ice cubes using a cloth and place them in a small bucket or glass. Wipe the table clean again until it is dry enough for use.
  • Rearrange and replace the utensils. Pick up the glass and set it upright. Rearrange and wipe dry all silverware, or replace them if necessary. Bring a new set of napkins if they have been soaked. Remove the old drink then replace it with a new one. You should do this without being asked since some customers would feel embarrassed to ask for another drink. This deed will be greatly appreciated.
  • Be grateful. After they have finished, thank them for dining in the restaurant. You can say “See you soon” or “We hope you enjoyed your food”. Be grateful and always end your service with a smile. This assures them that all is well and forgotten.

Accidents are bound to happen and there is no way of knowing when. Aside from taking measures to preventing it from happening, you should also practice on ways on how you can handle them. Always have a prepared method in your mind on what you will do if a spill occurs. It should come as a reflex to you since you don’t want to be caught dumbfounded.  

Customers come to the restaurants to enjoy, relax, and have good food. Ensure that you will make that possible whatever happens. The outline above provides a quick and easy way to improve your skills and increase your chances of earning bigger tips.


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