How Should Your Servers Dress?

How Should Your Servers Dress?

How your staff dress and specifically how your servers dress is an important consideration for a startup restaurant or a restaurant under new management.

How your servers dress and groom themselves says a lot about your restaurant. It’s important to establish clear guidelines in your employee manual for how front of staff presents themselves to your guests.

This guide to front of house dress code standards will cover:

  • Restaurant dress and your theme
  • Basic requirements of dress
  • Personal cleanliness and grooming
  • Personalization (jewelry, tattoos, hair dye, piercings)
  • Employee uniforms

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Restaurant Theme — Casual or Formal?

Before you decide how your servers should dress it is important to decide on what your theme is. For example, if your restaurant has a western theme it would be appropriate for servers to dress in a western style.

If your restaurant serves a formal clientele it makes sense for your servers to dress more formally. If your restaurant is a casual environment it may be appropriate to let your servers personalize their style of dress. It’s important to make a distinction between how casual or formal your guests are versus your restaurant staff.

It’s all about the impression you want to give. For example, some fast food restaurants provide formal uniforms with collars and slacks, although most customers are likely in t-shirts and jeans.

Basic Restaurant Dress Requirements

Basic server dress should conform to the style and atmosphere of your restaurant. Keep in mind who your target customers are and how you anticipate their reaction to your staff.

Regardless of the restaurant’s style, front of house staff should follow basic standards of dress and personal grooming.

Guidelines for Dress

Comfortable to move in — For servers there is a lot of physical activity required. Bending, lifting, reaching, and lots of walking. Clothes should accommodate these activities.

Easy to clean — It’s no secret that there are a lot of ways to make a mess in a restaurant. To keep servers from looking sloppy after a spill choose clothes that are easy to spot clean.

Don’t show excessive sweat — It can get hot moving around so much, going back and forth between the dining room and a hot kitchen. The last thing you want is for servers’ clothes to visibly show stains from sweating. Choose breathable fabrics and those that do not change color easily from sweat.

No loose ends — You don’t want anything too flowing or that can fall into food. Cuffs should be short enough not to end up in someone’s soup. Servers’ attire should be comfortable to navigate between tables and perform service without anything hanging off their clothes that could end up contaminating food or getting caught.

Cleanliness and Grooming Standards

Hair — Hair should be well-kept, short or in a tight bun. This keeps stray hairs from falling into your guests’ food and gives a neat appearance.

Fingernails — Servers should have short nails, even if they are manicured. If not manicured, there should be no visible grime under the nails. If using fingernail polish it shouldn't be chipped or wearing off.

Body Hygiene — Servers should put their best foot forward and always shower before their shift. If they suffer from excessive sweat they should keep a handkerchief to dab sweat from their face before interacting with guests.

Fragrances — Servers should not wear detectable fragrances. Strong scents can upset guests who are sensitive. Additionally, strong personal fragrances can interfere with guests enjoying the aroma of their food.

Oral Hygiene — Servers should not have detectable bad breath, as it is unappetizing for guests. Servers should always brush their teeth before service.

Read More: Choosing a Restaurant Business Structure

Personalized Dress

Some restaurants allow staff to highly personalize their appearance. While this can be appropriate for certain concepts like coffee shops and trendy vegan bistros, in many cases it’s not. Remember your target customer and how you want them to relate to your staff.

Jewelry — Certain jewelry items such as watches and bracelets are generally not allowed for risk of contamination or getting snagged. Rings are allowed but there may be restrictions on the number and style. Necklaces shouldn’t dangle too far when leaning over.

Piercings — Generally ear piercings are allowed, as long as they won’t get caught on anything while moving around the restaurant. Controversy is introduced with alternative piercings such as nose, eyebrow, lip and tongue piercings. Generally, restaurants do not allow most body piercing styles.

Tattoos — Tattoos that are not visible to customers while in uniform are not considered controversial. However, face, neck and hand tattoos are sometimes not permitted. This depends on the style of restaurant. Most fine-dining establishments do not allow visible tattoos on servers.

Hair Dye — Hair dye styles that appear unnatural such as pink, blue, green, etc. are often not allowed in restaurants due to their casual look that might offend some patrons. Fine dining being the most formal, generally bans this hairstyle. However, it’s up to the restaurant and the impression they want to leave guests with.

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Restaurant Server Uniforms

If you want to have the most control over your restaurant servers’ dress it’s recommended you go with a uniform policy. This takes much of the guesswork out of what is and is not appropriate and can make it easier for your staff.

You can be sure that your servers’ style of dress conforms to the theme of the restaurant. It can also create a sense of team identity as everyone is dressed in a similar style. Work isn’t a fashion contest. Uniforms can also help staff get in the right mindset for how they should behave while in service.

Of course, even with restaurant server uniforms, they should always conform to the basic dress and grooming standards of the restaurant.

Read More: Choosing a Restaurant Business Structure

Summary

First establish the look and style of your restaurant. Your server dress code should match the theme of your restaurant. Think about how you want your servers to be perceived by your guests. Sometimes it’s appropriate for servers to dress in a style that is more formal than your guests.

Establish basic guidelines for dress that take into account worker safety and risk of food contamination. Enforce standards of basic hygiene. Make sure your staff understand their obligation to guest comfort through personal grooming.

How much personal style is allowed to be expressed in the restaurant through tattoos, jewelry and piercings is up to you as the restaurant owner. Your choices here affect how your staff is perceived by guests.

If you want the most control over server dress implement a uniform policy. This will help ensure that your servers’ look is sending the right message and is “on brand.”

This guide to how your servers should dress is brought to you by Rezku. Rezku is a leading restaurant management technology developer with solutions for point of sale, reservations management, online delivery, CRM and direct marketing and more. For more information about Rezku visit our homepage. For a free restaurant technology one-on-one contact Rezku today.

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