Food Counter Worker  What They Do

Just the Facts


Counter Attendants, Cafeteria, Food Concession, and Coffee Shop Career Video



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

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


A person in this career:

  • Scrubs and polishes counters, steam tables, and other equipment, and cleans glasses, dishes, and fountain equipment.
  • Prepares bills for food, using cash registers, calculators, or adding machines, and accepts payment or makes change.
  • Performs cleaning duties such as sweeping, mopping, and washing dishes, to keep equipment and facilities sanitary.
  • Balances receipts and payments in cash registers.
  • 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.
  • Cooks food or prepares food items, such as sandwiches, salads, and ice cream dishes, using standard formulas or following directions.
  • Brews coffee and tea, and fills containers with requested beverages.
  • Wraps menu item such as sandwiches, hot entrees, and desserts for serving or for takeout.
  • Replenishes foods at serving stations.
  • 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 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
  • Sound and noise levels are loud and distracting
  • 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
  • Using abdominal and lower back muscles repeatedly or over time without tiring

Work Hours and Travel

  • Rotating shift work
  • Weekend work

Specialty and Similar Careers

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