What is the American type of table service?

Are you considering a career in establishing your own restaurant? If so, have you ever thought about incorporating the American style of table service into your dining establishment? As a business owner, it’s crucial to recognize the significance of table service in enhancing the overall aesthetics of your restaurant, café, hotel, or event venue. 

Table service encompasses a range of methods for presenting and serving food directly to the table. By implementing the American type of table service, you can offer a fast-paced and efficient dining experience, setting your restaurant apart and captivating your valued patrons. 

However, that’s not all there is to it! This article will delve into the uniqueness of the American type of table service and explore its numerous benefits.

Uniqueness of American type service

American service, also called Plated service, is a simple and relaxed way of serving food that aims to create a smooth dining experience. In this style, the kitchen staff takes special care to arrange the dishes on the guest’s plate with precision and attention to detail. They position the plated dishes on the right side of the guest’s place setting, making it look visually appealing.

When it’s time to serve the food, the server follows a clockwise pattern, starting from the left side of each guest. This systematic and organized approach ensures that the food is delivered efficiently and without any confusion. By moving in a clockwise direction, the server can easily move around the dining area, making sure that each guest receives their meal promptly and in the correct sequence. This helps maintain order and ensures a smooth flow of service.

Rules of American service table set-up:

Creating a visually pleasing and well-organized table setup is crucial to ensure a seamless and elegant dining experience in American service. In this setup, there should be an orderly arrangement of items on the table. Let us now explore some of the main rules of American type of service:


Ensure that the utensils are placed in the correct order from the outside in, following the traditional placement for American service. This typically includes placing the salad fork, fish fork, and dinner fork in order of use on the left side, and the dinner knife, fish knife, and soup spoon on the right side.


Set the table with the appropriate glassware for different beverages, such as red wine, white wine, champagne, and water goblets. Each glass should be placed above the knives, with the water goblet positioned closest to the guest’s hand.


Napkins should be neatly folded and placed on the service plate or to the left of the forks. Alternatively, you can also consider creative napkin folding techniques to add an elegant touch to the table.

Bread Plate and Butter Knife

Place a small bread plate with a butter knife on the left side of the setting, above the forks. This is where guests can place their bread or rolls during the meal.

Salt and Pepper Shakers

Optionally, you can include salt and pepper shakers on the table, usually positioned near the center or towards the left side, within easy reach of the guests.

Advantages of American Service:

Implementing the American type of table service in your establishment offers several advantages:

Simplicity and Efficiency

American service is known for its simplicity and efficiency. The straightforward nature of this service style makes it easier for both the guests and the staff to navigate. The streamlined process allows for a smooth flow of service, ensuring a hassle-free dining experience.

Reduced Spillage

In American service, the portion sizes are carefully controlled and the dishes are plated with precision. This attention to detail helps minimize the chances of spilling or accidental messes, ensuring a clean and presentable table for the guests.

Lower Investment and Skill Requirement

Compared to other service styles, American service requires less investment in specialized equipment or extensive training for the staff. This makes it accessible for a wider range of establishments, from casual diners to family restaurants. The simplicity of the service style also means that servers do not need to possess advanced serving techniques or elaborate culinary knowledge.

No Maintenance of Silverware

Unlike formal table settings that often require the upkeep of silver items, American service eliminates the need for maintaining and polishing expensive silverware. This reduces the cost and effort associated with maintaining a formal dining setup, making it a practical choice for establishments that want to provide a high-quality dining experience without the additional expenses.

Appealing Presentation

One of the standout advantages of American service is the visually stunning presentation of the food. With dishes served directly on the plate, the vibrant colors, textures, and arrangement of the food create an eye-catching display. This enhances the overall dining experience and adds a touch of elegance to the meal.

Portion Control

American service allows for strong portion control, ensuring consistency in serving sizes. This is particularly beneficial for establishments that focus on maintaining portion sizes for health or cost management purposes. Guests can expect a standardized portion every time they dine, creating a sense of reliability and value.

Maintaining Standards

The standardized approach of American service enables establishments to set and maintain consistent service standards. With clear guidelines in place, servers can deliver a reliable dining experience to guests. This is especially important for chain restaurants or franchises that aim to replicate the same quality of service across multiple locations.

Fewer Complaints

The straightforward nature of American service reduces the likelihood of confusion or misunderstandings. The clear and simple process of serving and interacting with guests minimizes the potential for errors or miscommunication, leading to fewer customer complaints and greater guest satisfaction.

Disadvantages of American Service:

As a business owner, it is wise to delve into the details of the disadvantages of American service to effectively address these concerns. Some of these disadvantages include:

Lack of Excitement

Compared to more interactive service styles like live cooking demonstrations or engaging performances, American service can sometimes feel less thrilling. The absence of elaborate presentations or captivating interactions between servers and guests may result in a dining experience that is perceived as less dynamic or memorable.

Lower Profit Margins

 American service may not generate as high profits compared to more elaborate service styles that offer additional services or unique experiences. Since the focus is primarily on efficient service and quality food, establishments relying solely on American service may need to carefully manage their costs and explore alternative revenue streams.

Temperature Challenges

 Due to the direct plating and simplified process, food served in American service can cool down quickly, which can be problematic when serving dishes that are meant to be enjoyed hot. Additional measures, such as reheating or using plates that retain heat, may be necessary to ensure that the food reaches guests at an optimal temperature.

Increased Plate Retrieval

With individual plates being served, there may be a need for more frequent trips between the dining area and the kitchen to fetch and clear plates. This can impact service efficiency, especially during busy periods. Effective coordination and table management strategies, such as utilizing tray stands or assigning dedicated plate runners, can help alleviate this challenge.

Limited Garnish Options

In American service, including elaborate or unnecessary garnishes can be impractical due to the simplified plating process. This can result in plates that lack the intricate and visually appealing garnishes found in more elaborate service styles. Guests who appreciate the artistry and aesthetics of well-garnished dishes may feel disappointed by the simplicity of American service.

Food Wastage

As guests have limited control over the portion sizes served in American service, there is a possibility of increased food wastage. If guests are unable to consume everything on their plates, it may lead to the disposal of leftover food. Establishments can address this issue by implementing strategies such as offering smaller portion options or providing take-away containers for guests to take home any uneaten food, reducing wastage.

Unequal Portion Distribution

American service can pose a challenge for guests who prefer larger portions or are hearty eaters. As each guest receives an individual plate, they may be unable to share or request larger portions typically intended for lighter eaters. This can leave big eaters feeling unsatisfied or requiring additional orders to satisfy their appetite. Establishments can consider alternative options, such as offering sharing platters or larger portion sizes, to accommodate different preferences and ensure guest satisfaction.


Incorporating the American type of table service into your establishment brings a sense of uniqueness and elegance to your dining experience. The meticulous arrangement of dishes, the efficient serving approach, and the flexibility it offers all contribute to a memorable dining experience for your guests. By embracing this style, you can differentiate your restaurant and create a lasting impression on your valued patrons.