What Kind of Job Does a Busboy Do?

by Rick Suttle

Busboys help waiters and waitresses, performing tasks these servers don't have time to complete. Restaurants and hotels usually establish individual roles for busboys so they help rather than hinder the server's interaction with guests. If you're lucky, the wait staff might slip a few extra bucks in your envelope, as your tips usually come from their earnings.

Stock Bus Stand

Busboys usually stock their stations before lunch and dinner rushes. They bring dinner and salad plates, trays, bus tubs, utensils and napkins from the backroom and stack them on shelves located on the stands. Some restaurants have their busboys fold silverware inside napkins. You may also drag buckets of ice from the backroom and poor them in ice bins, and stock perishables such as butter and sour cream on the ice.

Set Up Tables

A busboy usually sets tables up for guests before they arrive. The number of tables can vary depending on the size of the restaurant. Additional chairs and tables are sometimes needed for separate party or conference rooms. Duties may include placing linens on tables, arranging centerpieces and setting out plates and silverware. Customers also need bread, butter and full glasses of ice water, which you may resupply throughout the meal. Prompt service is usually appreciated by both guests and waitresses.

Clearing Tables and Spills

Busboys clear plates and utensils after guests have finished their meals. Someone will inevitably spill a drink or drop food on the floor, which the busboy must clean up. Once they're gone, you place dishes, silverware and glasses in bus tubs and carry them back to the dishwasher area, according to Stanford Hotels in San Francisco. Some restaurants may require you to separate dishes on racks for the dishwasher. You also throw away trash and remove dirty linens from tables, and periodically take full bags of trash to the dumpster.

Extra Duties

Always expect the unexpected as a busboy. It may not be unusual delivering meals to room service guests if you work for a hotel, and removing the dishes when they're finished eating. But you may find yourself changing a flat tire for a customer in the dead of winter, or helping people remove keys they left in their cars. Flat tires may not be discovered until customers are halfway home, and some may call the restaurant for help. The busboy is then summoned to drive to the location and help the customer, which is always the priority.