What Do Counter Attendants, Cafeteria, Food Concession, and Coffee Shop Do?
Counter attendants work as servers but do not wait tables. For instance, they may serve food at a coffee shop counter or from a steam table or hot plate in a cafeteria. They may run concessions at a carnival, fair or other large venue.Over 25,000 job openings are projected for counter attendants per year, nationwide. The number of openings varies by state.
Counter Attendants, Cafeteria, Food Concession, and Coffee Shop Skills and Abilities
Physical fitness is a requirement for counter attendants, since nearly all of your working hours will be spent on your feet. You’ll be reaching, bending, and carrying all day long. Knowledge of food production and safe food handling are essential, but in order to excel in this job you’ll need top notch customer service skills. Sales ability and leadership skills will help you to advance in this career.
Counter Attendants, Cafeteria, Food Concession, and Coffee Shop Duties
Cleaning plays as big a role in this job as serving and cashiering. The duties of a counter attendant or barista are wide-ranging, and include:
- Maintaining a thorough knowledge of the menu, including specials and seasonal items
- Taking customer orders
- Helping customers decide
- Keeping lines moving, always with a friendly demeanor
- Processing payments and making change as needed
- Allocating tips
- Keeping good records
- Writing orders legibly
- Memorizing recipes
- Preparing and serving a variety of beverages from memory
- Organizing and cleaning the pastry case and the ready-to-drink-and-eat case
- Checking temperatures of food cases, condiments and refrigerators
- Restocking and repositioning foods, products and supplies
- Prep work (weighing out coffee, slicing fruits and vegetables, mixing recipe ingredients, charging whipped cream canisters)
- Sweeping and mopping the seating area
- Sanitizing work surfaces
- Date labeling prepared foods and rotating stock as needed
- Grinding coffee beans
- Taking out garbage and washing garbage cans
- Memorizing the names and regular orders of daily customers
- Diffusing tense situations with unhappy customers
- Calibrating espresso machines and milk thermometers
- Washing dishes
- Balancing the cash drawer
- Clearing and sanitizing tables
- Keeping entryways clear of debris, including ice and snow
- Cleaning restrooms
Counter Attendants, Cafeteria, Food Concession, and Coffee Shop Tools and Technology
Baristas use high-power blenders, grinders and espresso machines on a daily basis, as well as commercial coffee brewers, steamers, thermometers and cash registers. Other counter attendants may use soda machines, dishwashers and sanitizers and ovens or grills. Point of sale (POS) software varies by establishment but is usually in use at cash registers. Accounting software, time tracking software and data entry systems may also be used.
Education and Training for Counter Attendants, Cafeteria, Food Concession, and Coffee Shop
Typically, not even a high school diploma is needed to enter the field or counter attendants and baristas. On-the-job training is the mainstay of this industry, and most people catch on quickly. Many coffee shops have handy reminders posted near drink-making stations, so that recipes remain consistent. You may also be paired up with a mentor, who will help you to extend your learning beyond the initial training period.
Counter Attendants, Cafeteria, Food Concession, and Coffee Shop Salary
Most counter attendants earn between $7.95 and $12.25 per hour, or $16,500 to $25,500 per year. The median wage for this position is $9.01 per hour, or $18,700 per year. Many workers who start out as counter attendants work odd hours to support themselves through school or while working another job, while others work their way into management positions.
Counter Attendants, Cafeteria, Food Concession, and Coffee Shop Jobs by Geography
The states of Washington, Oregon and Utah show the highest percentage of growth in this field, while California, Texas and New York employ the highest number of counter attendants. When searching for a job as a barista or counter attendant, keep in mind the minimum wage in the state you’re applying in, and whether or not you’d be earning tips. When comparing offers, look beyond the hourly rate and check for extra benefits, such as health insurance or tuition reimbursement.