our everyday life

What Are the Duties of a Deli Worker?

by Lisa Finn

A deli worker works the counter at a grocery store, sub shop or deli. She is responsible for preparing food, making sandwiches and using the cash register. A deli worker moves quickly -- especially at peak times such as lunch -- taking requests and fulfilling orders to exact customer specifications. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the top 10 percent of food service workers averaged $11.62 an hour in 2010.

Food Preparation

Deli employees work in the back kitchen washing and chopping vegetables, receiving food shipments and preparing food, such as salads and soups, for the front case. Large orders and party trays are also assembled, and bottles of vinegar, dressings and other spices are replenished as needed. When supplies, such as paper towels, sandwich wraps, spoons and cleaning detergents run low, a deli worker alerts the inventory manager.

Customer Service

Friendly yet quick customer service is necessary for a deli worker. Often times a customer is on her lunch break and needs time to order and eat before heading back to work. If a customer is particular about the how deli meat is sliced, the deli worker fulfills the request and gives a sample before slicing the desired amount. In addition, the seasoned deli worker knows the menu well, but accurately understands special requests, offers suggestions of similar items for customer review and explains food specials.

Making Sandwiches and Food

As a sandwich is made in front of the customer, the conscientious deli worker fulfills last-minute requests, such as wanting a little less cheese or an additional pickle. If soup is ordered, she may briefly warm it in the microwave before putting the lid on. In addition, a deli worker is schooled in sandwich-building, such as where to put the condiments so that the bread does not get soggy or at what point lettuce goes on a warm sandwich.

Operating Equipment and Cleaning

Deli workers are expected to handle heavy food items, such as slabs of meat, and operate slicing and cutting equipment, the oven, food fryer, microwave and scale. Other responsibilities include wiping counters, sanitizing kitchen supplies and thoroughly cleaning deli equipment. The cash register counter and ordering area should be tidy and clean as to represent the deli's cleanliness.

About the Author

Based in Los Angeles, Lisa Finn has been writing professionally for 20 years. Her print and online articles appear in magazines and websites such as "Spa Magazine," "L.A. Parent," "Business," the Famous Footwear blog and many others. She also ghostwrites for mompreneurs and business owners who appear regularly on shows such as Ricki Lake, HGTV, Carson Daly and The Today Show.

Photo Credits

  • Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images