server apron

How to Pack a Restaurant Server Apron for Success


Restaurant servers face a unique challenge in packing their personal gear. Waiters and waitresses are on their feet all day running from table to table. You need to have your full kit of service gear ready to go and on your person at every table – and to take care of yourself while on your feet during your shift. Whether you are preparing equipment for your entire serving team or just yourself, packing your restaurant service apron is a must.

If you arrive with just your server book and a pen, you’ll soon find that there’s a reason restaurants’ server aprons have so many pockets and all of different sizes. Here’s a quick survival guide on how to pack your server apron for success.

1. Your Server Book/Wallet 

Your server book, sometimes called a wallet, is a nice leather or plastic-bound narrow portfolio that holds your order pad. You want a neat fold because it keeps your pad from becoming crumpled and torn when riding in your server apron. The largest front pocket is usually reserved for your server book.  

2. Pens and Backup Pens

Every server needs a pen, and usually, you’re better off with a handful. Pens get lost, customers keep your pens, and you’ll likely pick up previously lost pens on the go. Keep an upright, narrow pocket in your server apron ready for the handful of pens a server is always carrying.

3. Sharpie Permanent Marker

Labeling to-go boxes is a common duty for restaurant servers. Accurate, fast labels can be the key to customers leaving happy -and leaving a big tip. So keep a sharpie permanent marker (or several) in your apron as well. You can tell the difference from a pen by feel, so they can stay in the same upright pen-sized pocket.

4. Compact Cash & Change Bank

A cash bank allows you to quickly make change with pre-organized and self-dispensing dollars and change. An experienced server will get their own compact, clip-on cash bank that can ride as a belt holster or take up a tidy pocket in your restaurant server apron to help you make change on the go.

5. Chapstick and Light Hand Cream

Working all day waiting tables is not an easy task, and your skin often takes the toll. Many servers keep chapstick and a light, daytime hand cream in their apron pouches to re-apply in quick moments of privacy to stay fresh throughout the day. Hand cream is especially important with frequent to constant hand washing.

6. Wine Key and Bottle Opener

Whether your restaurant serves wine, beer, or capped glass soda bottles, having a wine key/bottle opener tool is essential. Just one handy keychain or restaurant multi-tool can have you popping guest bottles without missing a beat.

7. BIC Lighter

With smoking done outside of restaurants, you would be surprised just how often a server has to use a lighter. Lighting birthday candles, specialty cocktails, and the occasional flaming dessert can all be done with a personal lighter tucked in your server apron pocket.

8. Protein Bar

If your restaurant doesn’t offer a mid-shift staff meal, make sure you’re metabolism is taken care of. Pack a protein bar or a granola bar in your server apron to ensure that you can snag a few extra calories and boost your energy in the middle of a tough shift.

9. Spare Cocktail Napkins

There will always be an occasion when you need a fresh napkin. If you can keep your pocket napkins flat and pressed, this is ideal. But even a few crumpled, clean napkins can save the day when you’re diving to rescue a guest’s fallen drink before it soaks their lap.

10. Crayon Packets

Every seasoned server knows that they should carry a few crayons or crayon packets with them when seating families. You never know when you’ll meet a little one who will be zero trouble if set up with a kid’s menu and crayons – or when the kid’s menu crayon bin will be empty at an inopportune moment.

11. Stain Remover Pen

The last thing to pack into your restaurant server apron at the beginning of each day is your stain stick. A tide stick or stain remover pen can save the day for yourself, a fellow waiter, or a guest in a moment of shirt-staining disaster.

What should you pack in a restaurant server apron? Poll your team on their favorite apron items and recommend items from our list if they aren’t in the aprons already. To find excellent, multi-pocketed server aprons or holsters for handheld POS computers, contact us today.