Bus persons, also known as dining room attendants, work in restaurants and other dining facilities assisting waiters and waitresses in serving customers. When a customer first arrives at a restaurant, bus persons usually serve them water as well as items such as bread and butter. After a customer has finished eating, bus persons pick up their dirty dishes, silverware, and glasses and take them away to the kitchen. They replace dirty table cloths and set tables with silverware, glasses, and napkins. In the kitchen and dining room, they restock many different types of items such as table clothes, napkins, silverware, and dishes.
Bus persons are responsible for refilling table items like salt and pepper shakers. They keep the service bar stocked with soups, salads, and desserts. They wipe down counters, glass shelves, service equipment, and other surfaces within the dining facility. They help serve food to customers and help waiters and waitresses with any other small tasks that need to be done. They typically vacuum the restaurant at the beginning and end of the day, and clean up any spills that occur during the course of the day.
Those interested in obtaining jobs as bus persons need to have certain personal attributes. They must have a neat and well-groomed appearance. Their personality must be pleasant and polite. They should be in good health and have good physical endurance. They should be able to get along well with others and follow instructions well. And they must have well-developed manual dexterity.
Bus persons usually earn minimum wage plus tips. Experienced workers can earn more, but this is not very common. Many bus persons work part time, depending on the restaurant. Many are required to work evening and weekend shifts to coincide with peak restaurant hours. Bus persons are usually provided one or two meals per shift by their employer, and some employers offer health, life, and dental insurance.
Training and Education
Applicants for bus person positions do not need to have any previous experience as the job is almost always an entry-level one. Depending on the county, applicants may be required to hold a food handler certificate before they can begin working. Food handler certificates are granted to those who take an approved food handler course from an authorized training school. The course usually costs no more than $20. County health departments can typically provide applicants with a list of locations where they can attend a food handler course.
After a bus person is hired, they undergo on-the-job training to learn whatever skills their employer requires them to know. For those bus persons who have the interest and ability, promotional opportunities are available in the restaurant world. Bus persons may advance to waiter/waitress, preparation cook, cashier, or bartender. Some employers offer on-the-job training for experienced and capable bus persons who wish to advance to these positions. Another way for bus persons to advance is to find work in restaurants where they make higher tips.
Between 2002 and 2012, employment of bus persons is expected to increase about as fast as the average. This will be due to increases in population, personal incomes, and amount of leisure time available. The occupation has an extremely high turnover rate, and most job openings are a result of workers leaving their jobs.
To learn more about hospitality, retail, and travel related careers, please visit our section on Hospitality Schools for more information.