Rolling Up Restaurant Flatware

Posted by Patrick Maness +


The silverware roll-up. For many servers it’s a skill as fundamental as balancing three plates on one arm or upselling the dessert menu. And though binding up some perfectly rolled sets of flatware offers servers a chance to sit down (and who doesn’t want to take every chance they can get to sit down during an eight-hour shift?) rolling silverware is by no means a favorite side task.

It might, in fact, be the most thankless job. Nine out of ten guests sit down and unravel the roll without even noticing the flawless corners or the air-tight folds, wasting no time dirtying up their napkin, knife, fork and spoon. And no matter how many roll-ups you make, there will always be more to do at the end of the day.

Some restaurants require servers to meet a quota of, say, 50 rolls a day. In many cases, servers aren’t allowed to leave before they finish “making their rolls.” Now, if you’ve ever worked in a restaurant, you know that once your shift is over, you want nothing more than to get out of those doors. The thought of spending 20 minutes rolling flatware when cold beers and cocktails wait for you just down the street is simply agonizing.

Plus, you might only be making server’s wages!

In at least one situation we’ve heard of, servers rolled up their quota of flatware, placed it in a hiding spot, and then at the end of the shift they took their collection out and presto — they were done for the night and free to go, which was much better than sitting around and wheeling up another 50 rolls.

Others caught on to this game, though, and eventually anywhere from 200 to 300 rolls of flatware were missing during the day. This wasn’t exactly a great situation when business started picking up around lunchtime. It wasn’t long before the managers caught on and put the kibosh on this one-time brilliant idea.

So what’s the solution? There are probably plenty of servers out there who would suggest switching out stainless steel flatware for plastic utensils. Plus, you can save money on laundry detergent if you use paper napkins.

Maybe not the best idea, but let’s be honest, in our day and age when style often equates to how worn-out, distressed and “authentic” something looks, it’s only a matter of time before some eatery in San Francisco or Brooklyn touts a bohemian aesthetic by serving $180 entrees on Styrofoam plates with plastic flatware.    

But this sounds like a risky experiment. We wouldn’t recommend you to be on the leading edge of the plastic-flatware trend!

Guess it's back to rolling that flatware.

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