types of service in restaurants and hotels

Table of Contents

Restaurants and hotels offer different types of services to their customers, depending on their needs and preferences. The type of service can range from table service to self-service, each with its unique style and approach. It is crucial to understand the different types of food services, as this can influence the types of menu to offer and the overall dining experience. In this article, we will explore the different types of services offered in restaurants and hotels, including table service, assisted service, self-service, single-point service, and special service. By the end of this article, you will have a comprehensive understanding of the different types of service available and what to expect from each one

Different type of food service in Restaurant and Hotels

A. Table Service

Table service is the heart of many dining experiences, where guests are seated and attended to by service staff. There are several types of table service, each with its unique charm, cultural influences, and degree of formality. Table service is considered as a category of service style which consists of English Service, French Service, Silver Service, American Service, Russian Service, Cart Service, and Snack Bar Service.

1. English Service (or Family Style Service)

English Service, often called Family Style Service, is a more casual and communal approach to dining. In this type of service:

  • Large serving dishes are placed at the center of the table.
  • Guests help themselves, passing dishes around to one another.
  • The host or head of the table may assist with serving or carving.
  • Conversations and a relaxed atmosphere are encouraged.
  • One of the disadvantages of this service style is the difficulty to control the portion sizes.

This service style is perfect for family gatherings, informal events, or cozy restaurants, where the emphasis is on sharing food and fostering a sense of togetherness.

2. French Service 

The French Service is known for its elegance, sophistication, and attentive service. Key features of this type of service include:

  • A server presenting a large, beautifully plated dish to the guests.
  • The server skillfully carving or portioning the food table side.
  • Guests served individually, with the server using a fork and spoon to transfer the food to each plate.
  • Side dishes, sauces, and garnishes are offered separately.

The French classical menu is often used for this type of service, which is typically found in high-end establishments or formal events, French Service adds an air of grandeur and refinement to the dining experience.

3. Silver Service

Silver Service, originating from the United Kingdom, is a highly formal and luxurious style of service. In this service, the food is presented on silver platters and casseroles. Its distinguishing features are:

  • The use of silverware, including serving dishes, utensils, and flatware.
  • Servers wearing white gloves, demonstrating exceptional etiquette and attention to detail.
  • Food served from the left, beverages poured from the right, and used dishes cleared from the right.
  • The server using a serving spoon and fork in a specific technique to serve food with precision and grace.

The a la carte menu is often used for this type of service, which is typically reserved for special occasions, fine dining restaurants, or lavish banquets, where every detail is meticulously executed.

4. American Service (or pre-plated service)

American Service, also known as Plated Service, is a practical and efficient approach to table service. In American style of food service:

  • Food is prepared and individually plated in the kitchen before being brought to the table.
  • Guests receive their dishes with all components, including side dishes and sauces, already arranged.
  • The server places each plate in front of the guest, typically from the right side.
  • There is less interaction between servers and guests, allowing for quicker service.

Ideal for busy restaurants, corporate events, or large gatherings, American Service prioritizes efficiency without sacrificing presentation or quality.

5. Russian Service

Russian Service, which originated in the 19th century, is a blend of formality and extravagance. This style is characterized by:

  • The use of intricately designed serving dishes, often made of silver or gold.
  • Food served on individual plates, which are then presented to guests on a tray.
  • Servers placing plates before the guests, usually starting with the host or guest of honor.
  • Multiple courses served sequentially, often accompanied by a change of utensils and glassware.

Typically reserved for high-end events, diplomatic functions, or exclusive establishments, Russian Service offers a luxurious and theatrical dining experience.

6. Cart Service (or Guèridon Service)

Cart Service, also known as Guèridon Service, is an interactive and personalized style of table service. In this type of food service:

  • Partially cooked food from the kitchen is taken to the Gueridon Trolly for cooking it completely.
  • A mobile cart or trolley, equipped with ingredients and cooking equipment, is wheeled to the table
  • The server or chef prepares, cooks, or finishes the dish tableside, engaging with guests and showcasing their culinary skills.
  • Dishes can range from flambéed entrées to elaborate desserts, such as crêpes Suzette or cherries jubilee.
  • Guests have the opportunity to customize their meals, as they can request specific ingredients or preparations.

Often found in upscale restaurants or special events, Cart Service provides a memorable, interactive, and entertaining dining experience that leaves a lasting impression on guests.

7. Snack Bar Service

Snack Bar Service is a more casual and laid-back approach to table service, typically found in diners, cafes, and pubs. This style is characterized by:

  • A relaxed, informal atmosphere, often with an open kitchen or counter where guests can see their food being prepared.
  • Smaller dishes, snacks, or shareable plates, such as sandwiches, salads, or appetizers.
  • Guests ordering at the counter and then either taking their food to a table or having it brought to them by a server.
  • A focus on speed and convenience, making it ideal for guests who are short on time or looking for a quick, satisfying meal.

Snack Bar Service is perfect for casual eateries or social settings, where the emphasis is on tasty, uncomplicated food and a comfortable, welcoming atmosphere.

B. Assisted Service

Assisted service is a type of service where customers have a bit of independence but still receive assistance from staff. The most common type of assisted service is buffet service, where customers collect their food from a buffet line and pay at a cashier’s station. The staff may help customers find seating or assist in carrying plates to their tables.

Unlike self-service, assisted service provides some human interaction and support to customers. For instance, in a cafeteria, customers may collect their food but still need assistance in paying the bill. In such cases, the cashier is available to assist customers in calculating the bill and making payment.

Buffet Service

Buffet Service is a popular and versatile assisted service style that caters to a variety of tastes and preferences. With this approach:

  • Guests can choose from a wide array of dishes displayed on buffet counter where food is kept in large casseroles. 
  • Chefs or servers may be present to assist with portioning, carving meats, or explaining the dishes.
  • Guests can customize their plates, mixing and matching items to their liking.
  • The atmosphere is often lively and social, as guests move around the buffet area and interact with one another.

Ideal for events, weddings, or large gatherings, Buffet Service offers a unique dining experience that combines choice, efficiency, and the opportunity for guests to savor an array of culinary delights.

C. Self Service

Self-service is a type of service where customers are entirely responsible for their dining experience. This method is relatively less expensive since there is no waiter and the food is presented on a sideboard. Customers can select their preferred food items and serve themselves.

The self-service method is popular in cafeteria and fast-food chains. Customers can take their food to their table and sit where they please. This method is often quick and convenient, allowing customers to grab their meals and go.

Cafeteria Service

Cafeteria Service is a convenient and efficient self-service style commonly found in schools, hospitals, and workplace dining facilities. The menu is limited, the cutlery is handed over to the guests. Key features of this approach include:

  • Guests selecting their dishes from a serving line, where food is displayed in trays or containers.
  • Guests carrying their own trays and utensils, moving through the line at their own pace.
  • The option to choose from a variety of hot and cold dishes, including entrées, sides, salads, and desserts.
  • A focus on practicality and speed, making it ideal for settings with high customer turnover or limited seating.

Cafeteria Service provides a straightforward, no-frills dining experience that prioritizes convenience and accessibility for a diverse range of guests.

D. Single Point Service

Single Point Service is a category of food and beverage services that focus on convenience, accessibility, and speed. This style caters to guests who are often on-the-go, looking for a quick bite or a meal to enjoy elsewhere. The guest orders, pays for the orders and gets served all at a single point. In this section, we will explore four types of Single Point Service: Food Court, Kiosks, Take Away Service, and Vending.

1. Food court service

Food courts are dining areas that house multiple food vendors or stalls, often found in shopping malls, airports, and other high-traffic locations. Features of food courts include:

  • A wide variety of cuisines and dishes, catering to diverse tastes and preferences.
  • Guests ordering and paying at individual vendor counters, then taking their food to a shared seating area.
  • A focus on quick service and turnover, as guests typically have limited time to dine.
  • An energetic and bustling atmosphere, with a constant flow of customers.

Food courts offer a convenient and efficient dining experience, with options to suit every palate.

2. Kiosk service

Kiosks are small, standalone structures or booths that serve a limited menu of food and beverages. Key characteristics of kiosks include:

  • A compact footprint, often found in busy areas such as parks, markets, or streets.
  • A limited, specialized menu that focuses on a specific type of food or beverage, such as coffee, ice cream, or sandwiches.
  • Guests ordering and paying at a walk-up window or counter, then taking their food to-go or enjoying it nearby.
  • Quick service and convenience, as kiosks cater to customers who are in a hurry or on-the-go.

Kiosks provide a fast, simple, and accessible option for those seeking a quick meal or snack.

3. Take away service

Take Away Service, also known as carry-out or to-go service, allows guests to order food from a restaurant or eatery and take it with them to consume elsewhere. This service style is characterized by:

  • A dedicated counter or area for placing and picking up orders, separate from the main dining area.
  • Food packaged in containers or bags designed for transport and consumption off-premises.
  • A focus on speed, efficiency, and maintaining the quality of the food during transport.
  • Often, the option to place orders in advance, either in-person, by phone, or through an app.

Take Away Service offers the convenience of enjoying restaurant-quality food in the comfort of one’s own home or another location.

Menubly‘s Online Ordering System provides an efficient way for restaurants to offer take-away services. Your customers can browse the digital menu and place orders online, they can choose to pick it their orders at your restaurant or have them delivered to their doorstep. 

4. Vending service

Vending refers to the use of automated machines that dispense food and beverages, typically installed in industrial canteens, offices, or other public spaces, offices. Features of vending include:

  • A selection of pre-packaged snacks, drinks, or even hot meals, depending on the machine’s capabilities.
  • Guests using cash, card, or digital payments to purchase items directly from the machine.
  • The ability to access food and beverages 24/7, as vending machines operate around-the-clock.
  • Minimal human interaction, as the machines are self-contained and require no staff for operation.

Vending provides a quick, convenient, and accessible option for those seeking food or beverages at any time of day or night, without the need for human assistance.

E. Special Service

Special Service encompasses a range of unique food and beverage services that cater to specific situations or guest requirements. In this section, we will explore five types of Special Service: Room Service, Tray Service, Home Delivery, Lounge Service, and Trolley Service.

1. Room Service

Room Service is a personalized dining experience offered by hotels and resorts, allowing guests to enjoy meals in the privacy of their own room. Key features of room service include:

  • A dedicated in-room menu, featuring a selection of dishes and beverages from the hotel’s kitchen or restaurants.
  • Guests placing orders by phone, in-room tablet, or mobile app, specifying their preferred delivery time.
  • Food and drinks delivered directly to the guest’s room by hotel staff, often on a tray or trolley.
  • The option for guests to request special items, modifications, or additional services, such as wake-up calls or turndown service.

Room Service offers a convenient and comfortable dining option for guests who wish to dine in their rooms, without compromising on quality or variety.

2. Tray Service

Tray Service is a specialized form of service that involves the use of trays to transport and present food and beverages. This style is often used in:

  • Hospitals, where patients are served meals in their rooms or beds.
  • Airlines, where passengers receive meals and snacks during flights.
  • Corporate events or meetings, where refreshments are provided to attendees.

Tray Service is designed to accommodate the unique needs of various settings, ensuring that guests receive a convenient and efficient dining experience.

3. Home Delivery

Home Delivery is a service that enables customers to order food from a restaurant or eatery and have it delivered to their doorstep. This popular service is characterized by:

  • Customers placing orders via phone, website, or mobile app.
  • A delivery fee, often based on the distance between the restaurant and the customer’s location.
  • Restaurants partnering with third-party delivery services to fulfill orders, or employing their own delivery staff.
  • The use of insulated bags or containers to maintain food quality during transport.

Home Delivery provides a convenient option for customers to enjoy restaurant-quality food from the comfort of their own home.

4. Lounge Service

Lounge Service is a relaxed and sophisticated form of service, typically found in hotel lounges, airport lounges, or upscale bars. Key aspects of lounge service include:

  • Comfortable seating, such as plush chairs, sofas, or booths, arranged to encourage conversation and relaxation.
  • A curated menu of small plates, appetizers, and beverages, including cocktails, wine, and beer.
  • Attentive, yet unobtrusive service, where staff are available to assist guests but also respect their privacy.
  • Soft lighting, ambient music, and a refined atmosphere, promoting a sense of leisure and luxury.

Lounge Service is designed to create an elegant and comfortable environment where guests can unwind and enjoy light refreshments.

5. Trolley Service

Trolley Service is a unique form of service that involves the use of wheeled trolleys or carts to present and serve food and beverages. This style can be found in:

  • Afternoon tea services at hotels or tea rooms, where a selection of sandwiches, pastries, and scones are displayed on tiered trays.
  • Restaurants or events offering a cheese or dessert trolley, allowing guests to choose from a variety of options.
  • Beverage service on trains or planes, where attendants offer drinks and snacks from a rolling cart.

Trolley Service adds a touch of elegance and theatricality to the dining experience while providing guests with an opportunity to make personalized selections from a visually appealing presentation.

6. Bottle Service

Bottle service is a type of VIP service offered at nightclubs, bars, and restaurants, where customers purchase an entire bottle of liquor or champagne rather than buying individual drinks.

Setting up a website for your restaurant

When setting up your restaurant, it’s crucial to explore ways to attract more customers to your restaurants. One effective way to do this is by having a dedicated website where your customers can learn everything about your restaurant anytime, anywhere. 

Menubly lets you create a mini website with a built-in online menu which centralizes all important information about your restaurant into one accessible link. It makes it easy for your customers to interact with your restaurant: they can view your menu, find your location, book a table, place delivery orders… all in one place.

By adding your mini website link in your Instagram bio and other social media profiles, or sharing it directly with customers, you make it easy for them to discover and engage with your restaurant through a single, convenient link. This streamlined approach not only enhances customer experience but also boosts your online presence and attract more customers.

Best of all? You can set up your Menubly mini website for Free in just under 5 minutes and tailor it to match your restaurant’s style.  

Ready to boost your restaurant’s online presence? Click here to create your free website with Menubly!


In the diverse world of hospitality, the various types of service play a crucial role in shaping guests’ experiences and ensuring their satisfaction. From the intimate, personalized nature of Room Service to the bustling, communal atmosphere of Food Courts, each service style offers a unique dining experience tailored to different preferences, occasions, and settings. By understanding and appreciating the nuances of these diverse service styles, hospitality professionals can better cater to the needs and desires of their guests, while diners can make informed choices that enhance their enjoyment and appreciation of the culinary world. As the industry continues to evolve, it is essential for both service providers and guests to remain open to new experiences and innovations, ensuring that the art of service remains a dynamic, engaging, and memorable aspect of dining culture.