The Impact of Proper Attire for Restaurant Servers: Why It Matters

As someone who worked in the restaurant industry for a number of years, I understand the importance of presentation when it comes to serving guests. How the staff looks and carries themselves has a direct impact on the guest experience and the bottom line for the business.

In this article, I’ll discuss why proper attire, well-ironed clothes, and grooming matter for restaurant servers, drawing on insights from an informative video by an industry veteran Patrick Murphy, with Real Server Training.

The Importance of Presentation for Restaurant Staff

Hair and Grooming Set the Tone

As the speaker in the video states, “How people perceive you is going to be all… is going to determine how they treat you, period.” When it comes to physical appearance for front-of-house staff, hair and facial hair grooming are incredibly important in setting first impressions and maintaining attention to detail.

Servers should aim for neat, tidy styles that appear intentional. The speaker shares that he gets a fresh haircut every 2-3 weeks to maintain a put-together look that requires little upkeep on a daily basis before shifts.

Facial hair should also be neatly trimmed or shaped. The speaker advises servers to take an honest assessment if a full beard can be properly maintained on a regular basis. Otherwise, clean-shaven is the way to go for a polished appearance. Keeping hair and facial hair groomed demonstrates self-care to guests and invites better treatment in return.

Wrinkle-Free Makes a Difference

When it comes to clothing, neat-pressed shirts and pants make a bigger impact than most servers realize. As the speaker explains, guests likely won’t consciously notice wrinkled shirts as servers take orders. However, subconsciously, wrinkled attire gives off an aura of dishevelment that negatively colors the guest’s perception.

Maintaining crisp, smooth shirts and pants requires extra effort with steaming, ironing or sending items to the dry cleaner. But it truly makes a difference in how guests react to the staff on a gut level.

Fit Over Price for Server Attire

The key point the speaker stresses about clothing for servers is that expensive pieces are not essential. In fact, he explicitly states that $300 designer shirts and pants are unnecessary expenditures in this profession. The most vital factor in putting together server attire is simply fit.

Restaurant Servers Dressed Well

Well-fitted shirts, pants and other garments neatly flatter the body, while baggy pieces appear sloppy. Taking the time to find budget-friendly shirts, ties, restaurant shoes, vests, aprons, and pants that properly fit your body type shows guests you respect yourself and the dining experience they expect.

Self-Respect Breeds Guest Respect

At the heart of his discussion on server attire and grooming, the speaker makes an excellent point connecting staff presentation to enhancing the overall dining experience. When the waitstaff looks put together, it demonstrates self-respect. And guests will innately sense that self-respect through conscious and unconscious cues.

This engenders a natural respect from guests in return during the dining experience from initial seating to entree to check payment. Servers cannot expect maximum respect from guests if they fail to respect themselves and the restaurant environment through proper grooming and attire.

Takeaways for all Restaurant Staff

While the video focused specifically on waiters and waitresses in the front-of-house, these lessons apply to any staff members who interact with or have visibility to guests. Hosts, busboys, bartenders, managers, and more can all positively influence the guest experience through proper attire and conscientious grooming.

Keep these takeaways in mind:

Mind the hair: Neat, fresh haircuts or styles make a difference. Don’t let guests see bedhead!
Groom facial hair: If you sport a beard or mustache, ensure it looks purposefully groomed.
Wrinkle-free is key: Keep shirts, pants and dresses neatly pressed sans wrinkles.
Fit over cost: Server uniforms don’t have to be expensive as long as they properly fit your body.
Reflect inward respect: A put-together appearance demonstrates self-respect that earns guest respect.

The bottom line is that staff presentation has a measurable impact on the guest experience in restaurants. When employees look sharp, guests will intuitively perceive that positive energy, translating to better treatment and higher spending over the long run.

Hopefully, this overview has provided helpful motivation for maintaining proper restaurant attire and grooming standards.

What other insights on staff presentation would you add from your own experience? I welcome your thoughts in the comments!


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