How a Waiter should Carry Tray in Restaurant

If you are a waiter or a server then at the beginning of your career you should gain expertise on carrying trays properly. Generally trays are carried on the left hand slightly on the above of the left shoulder. For hygiene issue, you should try to keep away the tray from your neck or mouth. Trays can be of various design, size and shapes. In restaurants 27 inch to 30 inch oval trays are used frequently for carrying foods. Cocktail trays are 15 inch which are used for serving beverage items.

Training Video:

Watch this exclusive training video from YouTube: How a Professional Waiter should Carry Tray at Restaurant – Tray Handling Techniques

Things you should check:

Here are some tips you should follow to avoid slip of trays or any other accidents:

  • Check whether the floor is plain or not.
  • Check the floor carpet. There may be some defects.
  • Try to follow a common and shortest route while serving food.
  • Don’t try to use narrow paths or busy areas to avoid collisions with guests or other staffs.
  • While carrying trays be careful about any items falling on the floor which may cause lose of your balance.
  • Careful about sharp corners of furniture and equipment.

How should you carry a tray:

  • Don’t only use your fingers but also use your palm of the hand to grip the tray to support your shoulder to carry the load.
  • Try to handle the load by your hand, legs and hip do not take load on your hip which may cause back pain.
  • Don’t move the tray or hand only but move your whole body when you need to turn.
  • In times of carrying trays through a crowded area just lift up the tray and if needed just shout a little bit to make people concern about you otherwise sometimes it may happen that guest may fall on you which may cause serious danger.
  • Be more careful while carrying hot foods.
  • Carry the cocktail tray not only by thumb and index finger but also use other fingers to give more control.

How to place items on Tray:

  • Place all the items in all parts of the tray to ensure proper balance.
  • Heaviest items should be placed on the center of the tray.
  • Lighter items should be placed on the corners centering the heaviest items.

How to place to Tray on Table:

  • Bend the knees and then put the tray down.
  • Use both hands for proper control.
  • If the load is so heavy then don’t shy to seek help of fellow waiters.
  • Try to put your attention on safe loading rather maintaining styles.

These are some common for servers or waiter to ensure proper tray carrying and landing. It is such a basic skill that each and every waiter needs to be expert on.


  1. well i need more information on handling a tray. how about if the food that you will going to serve is hot, how will you haNDLE THE TRAY?

  2. Hi,
    This is sophat from Raffles.
    I am looking for a training manual on how to serve business people in the restaurant? Could you please recommend me what is the site should I visit? Thanks

  3. Hi there, I am looking for different designs for waiters trays – can you direct me to any sites or organisations that may help?

    Thanks you

    Bob Pickett – Australia

  4. Tanji,please offer more SOP about Western restaurant,if you don’t mind ,maybe give me some informations about international hotel’s regulations in E-mail , thanks for your help Tanji

    • Hi sun, do you want to see an article about Western-style restaurant service? Also please make me clear about what do you want to know about email procedure, don’t know I have such knowledge or not !!!

  5. hi this
    pankaj ,i need the information abut the deck managment of syllebus i m afaculty & i dont hav the nots to teach the student pls help me


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