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Food Counter Worker  What They Do

Just the Facts


Serves food to diners at counter or from a steam table.

This career is part of the Hospitality & Tourism cluster Restaurants, Food and Beverage Services pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Serves food, beverages, or desserts to customers in such settings as take-out counters of restaurants or lunchrooms, business or industrial establishments, hotel rooms, and cars.
  • Prepares bills for food, using cash registers, calculators, or adding machines, and accepts payment or makes change.
  • Cooks food or prepares food items, such as sandwiches, salads, and ice cream dishes, using standard formulas or following directions.
  • Performs cleaning duties such as sweeping, mopping, and washing dishes, to keep equipment and facilities sanitary.
  • Balances receipts and payments in cash registers.
  • Wraps menu item such as sandwiches, hot entrees, and desserts for serving or for takeout.
  • Scrubs and polishes counters, steam tables, and other equipment, and cleans glasses, dishes, and fountain equipment.
  • Replenishes foods at serving stations.
  • Brews coffee and tea, and fills containers with requested beverages.
  • Takes customers' orders and writes ordered items on tickets, giving ticket stubs to customers when needed to identify filled orders.

Insider Info

Dig into the details and check out what people in this job have to say about their work.



Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 10 lbs., sometimes up to 20 lbs. You might do a lot of walking or standing, or you might sit but use your arms and legs to control machines, equipment or tools.
  • Work in this occupation involves use of protective items such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hearing protection, a hard hat, or personal flotation devices
  • Work in this occupation involves using your hands to hold, control, and feel objects more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation requires being inside most of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves making repetitive motions more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves standing more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves walking or running more than one-third of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person

Work Hours and Travel

  • Rotating shift work
  • Weekend work

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Barista -- Prepares or serves specialty coffee or other beverages and food such as baked goods or sandwiches to patrons.
  • Sandwich Artist -- Greets and serves guests, prepares food, maintains food safety and sanitation standards, and handles or processes light paperwork.
  • Cafeteria Cook --
  • Concession Cashier --
  • Hot Dog Vendor --
  • Ice Cream Server --
  • Popcorn Attendant --