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Counter service assistant in coffee shop

How to Become a Counter Service Assistant

Counter service assistants serve food to customers from a counter or bar rather than providing table service. Snack bars, canteens, cafes, fast food outlets and self- service restaurants are usually counter service establishments.

Duties vary, depending on the working environment. Main tasks include maintaining the eating and serving areas, serving customers and cleaning and clearing tables.

Involvement in the preparation of food depends on the type of food outlet. In some places this is done by kitchen staff, although counter service assistants may help with tasks such as mixing sauces or preparing salads. In small establishments, such as snack bars, the preparation of all food and drink may be part of the work. In fast food restaurants, it is part of the role to undertake basic food cooking or re-heating, using ovens and microwaves, grills and deep fat fryers.

Counter service assistants are also responsible for handling money, credit cards and luncheon vouchers.

What's the working environment like working as a counter service assistant?

Most counter service assistants work around 40 hours a week. Overtime may be available.

Hours usually include evenings, weekends and public holidays. Shift work, including split shifts, is common. There are opportunities to work part-time and on a seasonal basis.

The job involves standing for long periods of time.

What does it take to become a counter service assistance?

As a counter service assistant you should:

  • Be welcoming, friendly and polite
  • Have customer service skills and enjoy dealing with people
  • Be able to work as part of a team
  • Be clean and tidy, with high standards of personal hygiene
  • Be able to handle money accurately.

Counter service assistant career opportunities

Counter service assistants work in a variety of catering establishments throughout the UK, including cafes, self- service restaurants, business canteens, schools, colleges, snack bars, and fast food outlets.

Staff turnover is high, so there are always vacancies advertised in the local press and in Jobcentre Plus.

Prospects are dependent on the organisation. There is rarely a career structure in small organisations, so progressing may mean moving to another employer. Larger employers are more likely to have a career structure that may allow you to be promoted to supervisory and management jobs, possibly after gaining an NVQ/SVQ at level 2 or above.

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Last updated: 18 Nov 2019

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