Here's What A Busser Typically Does In A Restaurant

From high-end restaurants to beloved hole-in-the-wall diners, service industry staff members are crucial to an enjoyable dining experience. While the waitstaff is rightfully considered the heroes of the dining industry, other workers also play vital roles in efficient operations. This includes bussers, staff members who ensure that tables are tidy for guests.

Bussers can have many responsibilities in restaurants, but their primary duty is removing dishes and other items from tables once guests finish with them. This ensures that servers can bring out new dishes as they're available while simultaneously keeping guests comfortable at their tables, which can fill up with clutter pretty quickly without the proper assistance. Bussers also help clean and sanitize tables between diners, which is essential from a health perspective. Among the many signs that you're in a dirty restaurant, poor bussing of tables is a clear indicator that an establishment leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to cleanliness.

The difference between bussers and food runners

The terms "bussers" and "food runners" are sometimes used interchangeably, but there are some distinctions to note. The primary duty of food runners is right in the name, meaning these individuals run food to tables. In many cases, food runners work in conjunction with servers, who will sometimes provide directives to runners in the event a diner needs something during the course of a meal. Conversely, bussers maintain table cleanliness and diner requests.

It's worth noting that the duties of bussers and food runners often overlap. Depending on the policies at an establishment, a busser may help with bringing food to tables. These staff members can also interact with customers directly by taking requests for additional water and fulfilling other needs. Confusing? A little, but restaurant diners should always keep decorum and etiquette in mind, no matter which staff member awaits them. For instance, asking restaurant staff for one thing at a time is one of the worst things you can do while dining out, so try to merge those orders whenever possible.

Do all restaurants need bussers?

It's generally recommended that all restaurants utilize the services of bussers, as they're integral to a quality dining experience. Bussers ensure that waitstaff can attend to the needs of diners without concerns about clearing tables. And because the bussing staff readies tables for incoming guests, they also maintain an efficient process. Without bussers, restaurant staff could be in for a real uphill battle.

Just consider what industry professionals on Reddit had to say about the matter. According to one person, a busy day at their restaurant "was a nightmare" due to the lack of bussing staff. Another commenter stated that servers at their establishment "bus any table they see," while others in the thread said an assortment of staff members, such as hosts, dishwashers, and servers, were typically responsible for clearing and resetting tables. Having servers bus tables is potentially problematic. While bussers can sometimes receive tips, many earn a higher wage than servers. That means it's likely that waitstaff bussing their tables are not being adequately compensated. Keep in mind that restaurant tipping has a complicated, controversial history, which highlights why bussers should play a role in operations.