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Waiter serving guests (here in a pub garden - Café Prückel )
Operation when taking the order
A waitress in Buenos Aires

Kellner is the colloquial Occupation for employees in the restaurant associated with the operation of guests are entrusted. The female form is waitress or waitress . On ships one speaks of the steward.


The word comes from the Old High German "këlnari" for the cellar master , which developed from the pantry ( Latin cellenarium ). The cellar master ( Latin cellarius ) was the head of the pantry ( Latin cella ).


The classic task of the waiters is to serve the guests with food and drinks in bistros , cafés , hotels , pubs or restaurants . They also advise guests on ordering , present the bill and often also take on the role of cashier . In addition, they are the contact persons and representatives of the catering business.

Waiters practice one of the poorly paid professions in the Federal Republic of Germany because they only receive the minimum wage ( Section 1 (1) MiLoG ). Therefore the tip is an important additional source of income. In upscale restaurants in particular, it sometimes amounts to more than five percent of sales. In these cases it can happen that the monthly tip far exceeds the amount of the net salary, mostly in highly frequented "scene" restaurants.

In Austria , women are considered to be heavy workers as opposed to men within the meaning of the Heavy Labor Ordinance and the related professional list. Employers have to report the existence of heavy work in women from the age of 35 (men from the age of 40) independently to the health insurance ( § 5 Heavy Labor Ordinance ).

Job title

Situation in Germany

In Germany in 1980 the job title of the apprenticeship was changed to restaurant specialist or hotel specialist . The salutations Herr Ober (abbreviation of head waiter ) and Garçon are out of date , the earlier common salutation Miss for female staff and the Piccolo for trainees .

Situation in Switzerland

In Switzerland, the job title of the service employee after a two-year certificate training is a restoration worker, after the regular apprenticeship of three years REFA restoration specialist EFZ. The training takes place in a restaurant, a hotel or a system and communal catering company and follows a defined training plan with weekly attendance at the vocational school. Inter-company courses complement the training. The names waiter and waitress (female staff) are obsolete.


  • Maître d'hôtel -
    • Service management
    • Banquet management
    • Restaurant manager
    • 1. Head Waiter
    • deputy head waiter
    • Chef de rang - station waiter, waiter
      The personal and professional requirements for this position are several years of professional experience in first-class service (high service), the ability to lead a small group of people, English and French language skills, sociability and sales talent.
      This position is subordinate to the senior restaurant specialist and their superiors.
      This position is handed over to the service personnel of the respective station or work area.
      The tasks and decision-making areas are, depending on the company, the representation of the supervisor, the division of the serving staff in the respective station, the advice of the guests, the sale, the ordering (authorized to collect) as well as the work at the guest's table such as serving, flambéing, carving and filleting as well as processing complaints.
    • Demichef de rang - deputy station waiter
      • Commis de rang - young waiter / server
      • Chef d'etage - floor restaurant specialist
      • Chef de Bar - bartender
      • Sommelier - wine waiter
        • Cloakroom staff


In Great Britain and the USA the waiters in restaurants or pubs are called "waiters" ( English waiter [ m. ], Waitress [ f. ]), In France they are called "boy" or "young man" ( French garçon ), in Italy and Spain "valet" ( Italian cameriere , Spanish camarero ), in Greece " server " ( Greek σερβιτόρος servitóros ). Regional names are Köbes (Cologne, Düsseldorf, Krefeld), Ober (also Dutch ober, kelner ), Schani (Austria) or Wirt. In some cases, flight attendants also perform the tasks of waiters.


  • Fürst, Schnauder, Schuler: specialist book restaurant specialist restaurant specialist , basic and specialist level. Bildungsverlag eins, Troisdorf, ISBN 978-3-441-92650-4

Web links

Wiktionary: Kellner  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Waiter  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Gerhard Wahrig (Ed.), German Dictionary , 1968, Sp. 2009
  2. ^ Friedrich Kluge / Alfred Götze, Etymological Dictionary of the German Language , 16th edition, 1953, p. 376
  3. Heavy Labor Ordinance, Federal Law Gazette II No. 104/2006. RIS , January 1, 2007, accessed October 14, 2011 .
  4. Heavy work complete list. Austrian Social Insurance , November 2014, accessed on December 4, 2015 .
  5. Deutsche Welle (www.dw.com): Waiter , please pay! | DW | 11/28/2013. Retrieved May 15, 2020 (German).
  6. gastroformation.ch ( Memento of the original dated May 31, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.gastroformation.ch