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Food Runner Training Manual


We welcome you to ala. As a Food Runner, you coordinate activities between servers and kitchen personnel to ensure food orders are prepared and served exactly to specifications in a timely manner.  You act as the key communication link between the front-of-house staff, the back-of-house team and management to ensure the smooth delivery of meals, ensuring every guest enjoys their dining experience!


Below you will find the Food Runner topics that you will learn during this training.

  1. Food Runner Job Description

  2. Hospitality & Service Standards

  3. Preventing Guest Complaints

  4. Flow of Communication

  5. Working Tickets

  6. Product Preparation

  7. Expo Quality Control

  8. Kitchen Terminology

  9. Kitchen Safety Tips

  10. Station Setup

  11. Checking in Food Orders

  12. Side work Duties

  13. End of Shift Checking Out




Food Runner Job Description

  Job Summary 

As the Food Runner, you are responsible for managing the Expo Station through proper station setup procedures, as well as receiving and communicating guest orders, preparing and plating menu items to meet our quality standards, ensuring they are delivered  to guests on a timely basis, and maintaining a clean and organized workstation.

  Job Standards

  • Follow all company polices as outlined by the company.

  • Maintain a positive attendance record by reporting to work for assigned shifts at the scheduled time. 

  • Follow all sanitation and safety standards set forth by the company.

  • Meet all uniform, appearance, and grooming standards as specified by the company.

  • Set-up and maintain Expo station.

  • Monitor cook times and clearly communicate orders/needs to station cooks (fry, salad, prep, etc.) and servers.

  • Garnish, clean plate rims, and verify that all menu items are prepared according to guests’ specifications and to our company quality standards 100% of the time.

  • Assemble and complete orders according to pivot point order (seat numbers).

  • Coordinate preparation and delivery of varied courses, i.e., appetizers, soup/salad courses, and entrees.

  • Communicate with the servers when orders are ready for delivery within 1 minute of finishing plates.

  • Notify servers and management of late or priority tickets.

  • Determine par levels for daily needs, and accurately prepare and communicate the prep list.

  • Follow food storage standard procedures.

  • Perform assigned sidework duties satisfactorily.

  • Follow all end-of-shift checkout procedures as outlined by the company.

  • Maintain a good team environment by assisting other team members with their station duties and sidework when there is a need and/or when available.

  Job Requirements

  • Must be able to read and communicate in English clearly and effectively.

  • Must have the ability to maintain composure while multi-tasking and communicate positively.

  • Must have the ability to lift pots, pans, products, and other items weighing up to 50 pounds frequently.

  • Must demonstrate enthusiasm and commitment to guest satisfaction.

  • Must be able to perform simple math calculations and understand units and measures.

  • Must be able to stand and exert well-paced mobility for the duration of a scheduled shift.

  • Must have the ability to stand and walk for extended periods of time.

  • Must have the ability to lift, stoop, and bend.

  • Must exhibit hand coordination and dexterity for rapid productions.


Hospitality & Service Standards

The Team’s goal is to make guests feel instantly welcome and cared for from the time they walk through our doors until they leave, wanting to return again. To ensure our guests have a memorable visit, we must deliver exceptional service and memorable hospitality.


Hospitality = Emotional Aspect of Guest Experience

It’s how you make guests feel


Service = Technical Aspect of Guest Experience

It’s what you do for the guest


Successful sales and service result from confidence, which can only be developed through knowledge. We will provide you with ample training to develop the necessary knowledge and confidence in your role, the menu, and restaurant operations. You, as a Food Runner for ala, must learn it.


General Job Guidelines And Responsibilities

  • Never handle silverware with your hand over the eating surface.

  • When handling plates or food, never let your hand touch the eating surface or the food.

  • Know your schedule.

  • Know what time to be here for each shift.

  • Know what the daily specials, what station prepares them, are and how they are prepared.

  • Know the managers.

  • Clear your mind of everything except work when you walk in the door. A calm, composed, and focused demeanor is the hallmark of a great Food Runner.

  • Keep yourself geared up so that you are ready for any rush. We get most of our complaints during the Restaurant's slow period.

  • If you get behind, ask for assistance. You'll never get in trouble for asking for help.

  • Don't ever stand around or lean on anything. You can always be cleaning: wiping shelves or the Expo station, taking bus trays to the back, etc.

  • Always be sure that all food is secure when servers leave the kitchen. Caution servers to avoid carrying too much. Two safe trips are better than one catastrophe.

  • If an order is delayed in the kitchen, first inform the manager, and then tell the server, so s/he can communicate with guests. The manager will go to the table and explain the situation as well.

  • Always try to send out complete orders. If the entire order is ready except for a side order, like a vegetable, send out the entrees and have someone follow in a few seconds with the side order. Don't let the entrees get cold because of a side order. Everything goes out hot.

  • Anytime you serve a plate, put yourself in the guests place and ask yourself if you would be happy with the job you did preparing it.

  • The most neglected customer in the restaurant is the late customer. People who come in the last few minutes of the evening are usually the best tippers. They don't care how busy it was or how tired you are. They are here to enjoy themselves. Restaurants are noted for hurrying along late-coming customers. We are not rushing them, but we must get their order because the kitchen is closing. They may sit there and enjoy their meal as long as they wish. We treat them as though they are the first customers of the evening.

  • If you must go to the bathroom during the shift, ask someone if they will please watch your station while you are gone, and inform a manager so that they are not looking for you.

  • Unauthorized persons are not allowed in the kitchen. If one appears, politely but firmly escort them out and get the manager, or whomever it was they wanted to speak to.

  • No eating or drinking during operating hours. No gum chewing or smoking EVER.


Preventing Guest Complaints

No restaurant is immune to guest complaints, but you can try to limit the severity or number of complaints by heading off an issue before it arises. To prevent complaints, order accuracy and food quality are essential.

  You can prevent complaints by always meeting the standards of service.

  • Serving quality products – If you notice a product is not prepared to our level of standard, bring it to the attention of the cook or manager, and don’t allow it to be served!

  • Monitoring ticket times to ensure fast, accurate, friendly service – Follow our ticket time standards at all times.

  • Maintaining a clean restaurant – Perform your sidework duties as assigned. If you notice an area that is not clean, take action immediately by cleaning it yourself, finding someone else that is available to clean it, or informing the manager.

  • Think of servers as the face of the guest - anything they request is on behalf of their guests. By serving them generously, with a smile and encouragement, you contribute to providing great service and preventing guest complaints.

  • Anticipate issues - as you become aware of a delayed order or an item needing to be recooked, notify a manager and the server. The manager can address the situation with the guests before it becomes a problem.

Following these techniques, every day at the restaurant will limit guest complaints and provide a pleasing experience for our dining guests.



Flow of Communication

As an Food Runner, you are the coordinator of communication between the service team and the kitchen team. A consistent system for communicating orders from the service staff to the kitchen staff is critical. At ala, we are using Toast system with printers and screens in the kitchen, you must learn the system and procedures.

How Servers Input the Orders

  1. Servers input the orders immediately after taking the order, unless hot food needs to be run. Running food is a priority over entering orders into the Toast.

  2. Servers ring in appetizers and starter soups and salads first and send to the kitchen as a separate ticket.

  3. Servers ring in the entrees separately from starters.

  4. Servers must review the order carefully before sending to make sure everything is correct.

Pivot Point System

The Pivot Point System is a system for numbering the guests at a table so that the proper person receives the proper food, even if the person delivering it didn’t wait on the table. It’s a system designed to be consistent throughout the restaurant and known by everyone who runs food. This system is important to you, because as you assemble orders, plates are organized in pivot point order to be delivered to guests accurately.

  Pivot Points:

On the natural service approach to any table, the guest seated to the server’s immediate left is the pivot point in Position #1. The guest positions are numbered clockwise from that pivot point guest seated in Position #1.

The thing to remember in this numbering system is that we are numbering guests and not seats. It is common to have a chair with no one sitting there. Therefore, the first person next to or across from (clockwise) Position #1 would be Position #2, then #3, etc. This pivot point numbering system allows every service person to know exactly where the food goes upon delivery without having to ask.


Kitchen Display System (KDS)

A KDS allows for the kitchen team to visually oversee the moment-to-moment orders as they are placed either in the restaurant, online or through other channels. The display screens are typically mounted throughout the kitchen, such as the fry line, the salad station, or other locations where key items are prepared. The number of display screens is normally driven by the number of prep areas in the kitchen.

When an order is placed, the KDS breaks down the order into components and only sends the pertinent information to the appropriate screen. For example, if a group of guests order a steak, a Caesar salad, a soup, and a pasta dish, each of the order is routed to four separate screens positioned where they are to be prepared.

While the system splits the order to various stations, the Expo Screen displays the entire order letting the person in charge of running know when each component has been completed. As each station completes or "bumps" items, the Expo Screen display shows the progress of the order.

Once all items in the order are "bumped", the Food Runner is alerted that the order is ready to be delivered to the table. The technology maximizes throughput as display screens can be configured to accommodate large numbers of orders at any one time and allows the cooks to see all orders in one location rather than having to go off printed tickets. This ability to easily multi-task during busy times is just one of the many benefits of KDS.


Working Tickets

  • All food made in the kitchen must be rung into the Toast system and have a ticket.

  • As plates are completed by cooks, they are placed in the passthrough window for finishing with accompanying sauces, garnishes, dressings, etc.

  • Appetizers, starter salads and soups, and desserts have shorter ticket time standards. These items are priority tickets.

  • If a plate is returned to the kitchen for whatever reason, for recooking or replacement, that plate becomes a priority order. Never place blame for recooked orders on either the kitchen or the server – simply get the issue fixed, so the guest is taken care of.

  • If a server or cook has repeated issues with order accuracy, notify the manager who will address the issue with the people involved.


Running Food

  • As orders are completed, organize plates in pivot point order, either on a tray or on the counter for hand service.

  • Match the order one more time, double checking modifications to ensure accuracy and call for a server or runner to deliver the food.

  • If a single item or plate is missing, such as a side, notify the server/runner and follow up to ensure the item is sent out immediately following the order.


To Go Service Procedures

Carry out food is in high demand and a good percentage of our sales. We offer menu items to go, excluding alcoholic beverages. To go orders are taken either by Doordash. When a guest orders food to-go and enjoys it at home, nothing can create a negative impression faster than an inaccurate order.


When Packing Up the Order:

  • Inspect each item to ensure that it matches what the guest ordered, and that the presentation is to our standard.

  • Write the contents of each container on the lid. Indicate any modifications so like items may be identified and attach lids as items are ready.

  • Place all items neatly and carefully in the to-go bag, keeping hot and cold food separate.

  • Place the appropriate number of condiments, plastic ware, and napkins in the bag.

  • Prepare all beverages last so that they are fresh and delicious when the guest arrives.

  • Staple the top copy of the to-go check and the guest receipt to the to-go bag and place it in the designated pickup area.



Product Preparation

Menu Knowledge

As an Food runner, it is essential you know the menu. This includes knowledge of the ingredients and flavors, plate presentations, accompanying items, possible modifications, and cooking procedures. You must also know which items are prepared on which cooking station.

  1. Daily Specials. Each shift you need to become familiar with the day’s specials and any items that may not be available from the core menu. When an uncommon term is used to describe any product, make sure you can pronounce the name correctly and understand what it means.

  2. Plating and Presentation Standards. Our goal is to ensure consistent presentation of every menu item. Ensure menu items are plated correctly and look exactly as it should. This includes To Go packaging standards as well.

  3. Ticket Time Standards! Ticket time refers to the amount of time in which an item is rung in, prepared, and delivered to the guest. Every menu item has a standard preparation time, which leads to a total ticket time. Your trainer will  review these important standards with you.


Expo Quality Control

Quality control is a primary responsibility of Food Runners and Servers. You are the last person to come in contact with the food before it is served to a guest. If something does not look right or is not presentable, DO NOT ALLOW IT TO BE SERVED! Make sure all your products look good on the plates.


Things to look for:

  • HOT food. Check to see that food is hot. Just because something is in the window, does not mean that it is hot. If it is not hot, DO NOT SEND IT OUT. Tell the manager.

  • COLD food is as equally important as hot food. Make sure cold foods are going out cold, not warm or cool, but cold.

  • Clean plates. Always check any plates, before you present them to the customer. Check food basket for grease spots, spilled food, etc.

  • Order Accuracy. Check tickets to ensure items have been prepared to the correct temperature, with the correct accompanying sides, and the correct modifications. If you have questions, contact the server for clarification.

  • Correct portions. Always check to see that the product is in the right portions. Always ask yourself if you would eat that item if it were brought to you.

  • Correct To Go packaging. The appearance and packaging of take-out food is just as important as presentation in the dining room. Following proper packaging procedures helps food hold at the proper temperature.

  • Call for back-ups. If something in the kitchen looks low and you are about to run out, TELL SOMEONE. If you take one of the last bowls of soup, call for back-ups. If the salad is warm or wilted, say something before the customer is served.



Kitchen Terminology

When working in the back-of-the-house (BOH), you will encounter a variety of terms and equipment. Listed below are some of the most common items found in the BOH as well as terms used to describe various cooking techniques:


Kitchen Terms:​

Chop - To cut an item into pieces, usually ½” x ½” or larger

Dice - To cut into small pieces, usually 1/8” x 1/8” or 1/4” x 1/4”

86” - A term used when the kitchen is out of a particular item or when a customer has requested that an item be withheld from an order (for example, “fattouch salad, 86 the tomatoes”)

Ice Bath - The steps used to cool down a hot product quickly before refrigerating

Shelf Life - A term used to describe the length of time a product can be stored without the loss of quality

Simmer - To heat liquid until it begins to steam and before it comes to a boil

Whip - To beat a product into a smooth consistency, usually with a wire whip or electric blender

All Day - The number of products needed to fill all orders

Drop - To place food in the fryer

On Hand - The amount of product you have in the house

Lead Ticket - An order that is to be first

Ticket Time - The time a ticket has been in the kitchen and not yet completed

Add On - To add on to an order that has already been sent in

“Behind You” - A warning that someone is coming behind you

Break Down - To take apart and clean and sanitize, as in “break down your station”

Dragging - The part of an order that is missing or coming later (this should be a priority)

Food Runner - A person who takes the food out to the guest

Line Check - A quality check done on all products prior to opening and at shift change

On the Fly - An order needed in a hurry

Order In - A notification to kitchen staff that an order is coming in

Party - A group of guests who will all order and receive their orders at the same time

Pick It Up” - A notification to pick up food for delivery

Prep - To prepare

Re-cook - To prepare again any item that is not up to our standard (this is also a priority)

Station Set-up

One of the keys to our success is preparation. We need to ensure that we can prepare our guests’ food accurately and consistently. We accomplish this by being prepared each shift with all the items and products necessary to fulfill orders. The “Opening Duties” checklist found under “Side work Duties” helps set us up for success.

Expo Station Preparation

The following is a list of tasks that will be included on your list:

  • Clock in

  • Set up the expo station according to the line diagram

  • Turn on all equipment and ensure that the equipment is functional

  • Stock product needed for the shift

  • Restock plateware, utensils, and paper products

  • Ensure printers are on and are stocked with paper

  • Check the station and make sure that the area is clean and orderly

  • Check holding cabinets and display cases, and ensure that they are maintaining proper temperatures

Controlling Waste

The Expediter and the rest of the kitchen staff can have a huge impact on reducing waste and food cost. By following simple procedures daily, you can assist the restaurant in meeting its financial objectives by lowering costs.

Food cost percentage is basically calculated by taking food cost and dividing it by food sales. You have a direct impact on food cost during the receiving, storage, and preparation of food items. These three areas are all susceptible to unnecessary waste.

You can help control waste by:

  • Receiving and storing products properly and maintaining proper FIFO (first in, first out) rotation;

  • Ensuring that you are not over-portioning items.


Food Presentation

  • Not only does the food need to taste good coming out of the kitchen, but it also needs to look great. A very important aspect of foodservice is plate presentation.

  • Our restaurant has spent a lot of time and thought into how we want to present our menu items to our guests. We have put together procedures and materials to assist you in ensuring that you know how to plate our items.

  • We use a variety of dishes for our menu offerings, all of which take into account the portion size of the menu item, the temperature of the item, and the garnishments.

  • Consistent presentation and portion size are important to our guests, especially our repeat guests. They come to expect a certain quality to our food presentation, and we do not want to compromise our image.



Checking In Food Orders

As a member of the team, you may be asked to check in food orders as they arrive off the delivery trucks. The following processes detail how to receive and store products. Your trainer will take you through both processes.

  The Receiving Process

There are several steps to the receiving process:

  • Invoice & Purchase Order Comparison – It is your job to verify that all items requested on the purchase order match the delivery invoice.

    • Product Quantity (Weight) – Ensure that the quantity on the invoice matches the purchase order.

    • Product Unit Price – Ensure that the unit price matches on the invoice matches the purchase order.

  • Product Quality Check – Confirm that the product quality matches the products specifications. For refrigerated or frozen items, check the internal temperature of the products when they are received.

    • Check the Appearance – Are the products, packaging, and containers intact and in good condition?

    • Check the Weight on Key Items – Place an item on a scale to verify that the weight registered is the weight noted on the invoice.

    • Check the Temperature of Key Items – Are frozen products at or below 0 degrees? Are chilled items at or below 41 degrees? Is the delivery truck at the proper temperature?

  • Delivery Invoice Signature – If everything on the delivery invoice matches the purchase order, you will be expected to sign the invoice, thereby accepting the order. If you are not satisfied with any of the product, follow the company’s procedure for rejecting product and issue a credit memo.

  The Storage Process

Store products quickly, especially any refrigerated or frozen products.

  • Proper Rotation – When storing product, make sure to rotate the oldest product to the front and place the newest product behind it using the first-in, first-out (FIFO) rule. This way you ensure that the oldest product is used first.

  • Chemical Storage – Make sure that chemicals are not stored above food.

  • Safe Storage – Make sure that all CO2 and helium tanks are chained.

Side work Duties

Duties performed by food runner other than those related to the actual preparing and serving food are commonly called “side work”. These duties although may come second to preparing food item are just as important. They help to maintain the restaurant and make it a safe and pleasant place for guests to come and dine. Side work is normally done at opening, during slow periods, and at the end of your shift.

The following are side work duties for the Expo Station.


Opening Duties

Once you clock in, please make sure the following opening side work is done:

  • Expo Screen is ON and working

  • Paper roll is stocked in the ticket printer

  • Expo Oven is turned ON (450 degrees)

  • Heat lamps are ON

  • Place the cutting board, thongs and a knife on the right side of the Expo

  • Bread boards are cleaned, sanitized and stored on the right side of the Expo

  • Place 2 black trash bins and 1 blue recycle bin in proper spots. Line trash bins with black plastic bag (no need to do for recycle bin)

  • Check the Expo floor for cleanliness and clean it if necessary

  • Ensure the trays are clean and properly stored

  • Polish silverware if any 

  • Wash and polish glassware if any

  • Restock dinner and dessert plates, dinner napkins, to-go boxes and bags

  • Restock cooler items: sodas, bottled water (still and sparkling), juices, etc.

  • Bathrooms should be clean and restocked (bath tissue, paper towels, liners for trash bins)

  • Refill cleaning spray bottled with a cleaner

  • Restock cleaning towels/sanitizer napkins

  • All surfaces at the Expo as well as at the FOH should be clean


During Shift

  • Sweep and mop floors as necessary

  • Wipe down counters

  • Replenish food/drink items as necessary

  • Empty full trash cans

  • Deliver dishes to the dishwasher station

  • Deliver and stack clean dishes

  • Polish silverware

  • Clean and polish glassware


Closing Duties

Before clocking out, please make sure the following side work is complete:

  • All tickets are prepared and served

  • Expo Oven is turned OFF and cleaned

  • Heat lamps are OFF

  • Cutting board at expo is cleaned and stored away, thongs and knifes are cleaned and stored away

  • Bread wooden boards are cleaned, and properly stocked back at the Expo

  • Organize and clean all shelves

  • Clean and organize the refrigerator by the Expo station


End of Shift/Checkout Procedures

Before beginning your checkout each shift, check the following:

  • Make sure that all orders have been cooked.

  • Be certain that the manager has communicated that you are done at your station.

  • Be certain that all your side work and closing duties are done.

  • Have the manager or closing employee initial your Expo report indicating that you have successfully completed your side work.

  • Make sure that you REMOVE YOUR APRON while in the front of the house.

Expo Station Tips

When working your station, there are some things that you can do to improve the effectiveness of your performance and ensure the quality of each item you prepare.

Organization - Be organized in preparing orders and do tasks in the proper order. When possible, prepare the tickets as they come in, one at a time.

Communication - Always communicate professionally and clearly with others. This will ensure a positive tone is set in the kitchen and will make things go smoother. Remember, tension will slow things down. A simple “thank you” can help the entire shift be more effective.

Quality Check - Be sure to give the items a final quality check before allowing them to leave the kitchen.

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