Full hands in, full hands out

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By Definition:
Full hands in, full hands out – This is great for time management, it simply means when you’re entering or leaving the dining area, kitchen, service bar you should always have your hands full. This is working smarter not harder and makes your job a lot easier

One of the key fundamentals of being a great server is multitasking. Time is usually not on your side, in fact its dead against you, making time management key. To free up even 30 seconds, can sometimes be the defining moment of crash & burn or great success. How well we multitask defines how much “extra time” we have in comparison to our peers, who lets face it, have just as many tables or guests as you do. 


Ensuring our hands are full at all times, wether it be dropping hot food off or bussing dirty dishes form your, or a neighbouring section, will free up this “missing time” that we struggle so hard to find. Never leave the dining room without picking up a dirty plate or glass, (yes there is always something) and never enter the dining room without at least checking if there is food or drinks to run. Full hands in, full hands out”

We have all seen a server who “makes it look easy” even with a larger section than most. Is this pure talent?


Sort of..

waitress (1)

It all comes down to maximizing every moment, trip or encounter with our tables or guests. To enter the dining room, speak to one table (when your have 4 or 5 going) rush to the back to take care of the single wish or want, has just set you back and you didn’t even notice… yet. Pull this move a few more times and before you know it you are spinning in circles, not knowing which direction to go next. EVERYONE needs something, some of which have already been asked of you (possibly more than once) and now you are sinking “In The Weeds!”

Yet, the next server over is not even breaking a sweat… why? He / she has more tables than you, probably even one extra out of their section, to bail someone else out. How is this possible? Take note of strong servers patterns, touch ALL OF YOUR TABLES every time you enter the dining room. This way you turn a single trip in to many, simply by bring a ketchup to one table, a water to another and finally that extra stack of napkins to the “needy” table.

angry-waitress Now this does not mean there are not “emergency moments” where it is an all stop for completion of one task. However we trick ourselves into believing every side ketchup or refill is of high priority. When in reality the extra 30 seconds of touching a couple more tables goes un-noticed to the guest, but just freed up 3 more separate trips worth of time. Which, again, time is the key to a successful server.

You would be amazed at what can be accomplished in a small amount of time, that makes a massive impact. While waiting for that side gravy you have so politely asked of the expo chef, why not run that hot plate of food that would complete a tables food service? I guarantee 8 out of 10 times you are back before the gravy even comes up, or very shortly after. This seemingly small task has just made a huge impact on a table.

angry-restaurant-customerSay you didn’t run it, in fact no one does for a minute or two… to the guests this feels like an eternity. This will effect not only the servers tip but the general success of the restaurant. It could even have been that final straw for the table that now requires management attention. Attention that could be greater used keeping the general flow of the restaurant moving.


The domino or butterfly effect is very apparent in the food service industry, this is what creates those nightmare nights, widely know as “Train Wrecks”. We have all had one, or at least seen one go down. To save one of these nights simply comes back to time management skills and it all starts with:

Full hands in, full hands out”


– Cocktail Chef