Te Whau eatery FOH Briefing

Key information

When: Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday nights. Front of house volunteers need to arrive by 6pm and leave between 8.30 and 9pm.

Where: We are located at Te Whau Eatery, 1790 Great North Road. While there is parking at Te Whau, we ask that our volunteers park elsewhere so there are plenty for customers. There is parking on the roof of the building next door, which is accessed at the bottom of Henry St.

What to bring/wear: An apron if you like, and ideally a dark coloured top, comfortable shoes and tied back hair if it’s long.


Guests can arrive for dinner anytime from 6.30-8pm.
The space seats 70pax and we expect to serve around 120pax per night. This means you will need to re-sit people on some tables after people have left. New place settings require a napkin, soup soon, dessert spoon, fork, knife and water glass.


To volunteer with us, you need to understand the PAYF model. You may need to communicate this to our guests, who might not quite get it. PAYF means pay whatever you like and can afford. A good question for people to ask themselves is how much would this have cost if you went to a restaurant, pub or cafe? Can you contribute something extra to help pay for someone that cannot afford to pay?

This system allows people from all walks of life to come together to enjoy a meal. We are a not-for-profit charity that relies on these contributions, and without them we cannot continue. There is a donation tin for people to put cash in and an eftpos machine that a few regular volunteers know how to use.

Entrée - soup with bread. This is always vegetarian. Make sure there is bread with the soup you take. If people ask for more you can get this from a kitchen on a side plate

Main – always involves meat but we also provide a vegetarian option as well

Dessert – very often involves dairy

Kids - we serve a lot of children in Avondale. Please ask the parent or guardian what the child would like to eat. We generally have cheese on toast available and can make smaller portions and tailor the dishes to suit children. Please do not give children full portions of food, it is too much and they can’t eat it all.

We serve 3 courses

Allocated tables – teams are allocated a table or tables to look after. It is your job to look after these tables and to make sure everyone is looked after, gets their food, water and has the necessary cutlery. You will also very likely need to reset your tables.

Teaming Up: We have found the best system is to have a new or newish person team up with someone experienced. Teams of two will be allocated 2 or 3 tables between them and they will serve tables in order. This means people on each table receive their food at the same or similar times and nobody is left waiting.

  1. Guests arrive and sit down at tables

  2. Water is filled

  3. Guests are asked if there are any food allergies or vegetarians (this can be done at the same time as filling water). If guests ask about menu, you can tell them verbally.

  4. Section waiter/ess goes to kitchen and collects soup and bread. Typically the kitchen will be continuously plating each course, but you may need to ask for what you need. i.e “3 soups please.”

  5. If guests are dining together and/or receive their first course around the same time, you need to clear their table and serve them the following two courses at the same time. This helps us to provide a restaurant quality experience. Some guests will not want to do this and will want to eat quickly. If they ask, you can hurry them through.

  6. Soups are delivered to the table

  7. When soup is finished soups and spoons are cleared and taken to the scullery

  8. Section waiter/ess goes to kitchen and collects main course, same applies as the soup, you may need to ask for them.

  9. Mains are delivered to the table

  10. Top up water if necessary

  11. When main is finished plates, knife and fork are cleared and taken to the scullery

  12. Section waiter/ess goes to kitchen and collects dessert

  13. Top up water as necessary

  14. When dessert is finished it is cleared with all leftover cutlery

  15. Guests leave

  16. Clear table and wipe down with damp cloth, usually found in the glass wash area.

  17. If it is before 7.30pm or you think the table could be reset, reset with napkin, cutlery and water glass



This style of service means you need to be aware where each person is at with their meal. This should be very obvious because of the cutlery and the look of the plate you have just cleared, but you can always ask the guests.

Almost all the food we use is rescued. i.e diverted before it goes to landfill. A key part of Everybody Eats is to raise awareness to the amount of food wasted by humans. Around 1/3 of the food we produce is wasted, most of it goes to landfill.

So far we have been purchasing about 50 cents of food per head. We could make a meal from only rescued food, but we want to make this slightly more special. Because we receive good donations we are able to do this.

At the kitchen/pass you are not fighting other wait staff for food. Your tables need to have some break between entrees and mains. If they have been waiting for more than 10 minutes then you need to tell the other waitstaff your tables have been waiting a long time and you need priority at the pass.

Spend time walking around your tables and tidying up, rather than waiting for food that is taking time to be plated. It is chaotic if all the wait staff are standing at the pass asking for food so please don’t stand and wait unless your guests have been waiting a long time. It is often necessary to form a line at the pass to clear space and to ensure everyone gets food.

Other beverages are allowed to be bought in, but only non alcoholics and we would rather people didn’t bring in their own drinks. We do not have any drinks for sale. The reason for this is it is not in keeping with the PAYF model. We cannot have one table drinking coke, beer, wine etc because they can afford it and not another table of homeless. It is not in keeping with our ethos that Everybody is equal when they come to dine, they eat the same food, and have the same experience regardless.

We do not have enough glassware, cutlery or crockery to do two/three full seatings which means it needs to be washed and used again. Some FOH staff will be tasked with polishing/drying cutlery and washing glasses. You will need to liaise with the dishwasher if we are running out of cutlery.

Polishing cutlery & Glasses

The wash up area where the dishes are done. This can be quite chaotic if people do not scrape plates and stack things neatly. You must scrape all food scraps into the allocated compost/food scrap bin, put cutlery to soak in the bucket then stack your plates/bowls neatly. Please don’t dump your dishes.

The Dishes!

You will be asked for seconds quite often. We cannot offer seconds until toward the end of the night when we know we have enough to serve everybody. People can come back at 8pm to get takeaway seconds. People are allowed more bread which can be taken out from the pass on a side plate.

Guests can takeaway part of their meal, but people cannot come and take away a full meal, they need to sit down for at least part of it. If someone wants something to takeaway, you need to ask the kitchen for it to takeaway, they will have the necessary containers, you just need to make sure it has a lid on it.

Our customers – are a very colourful, mixed bunch of people. Some of these people may have criminal convictions, and some are or have been addicts. We operate on the principle that if we are nice to people they will be nice back. So far we have had very few problems, but it is important to be aware of this as a volunteer.
If we have enough food leftover, we invite volunteers to enjoy a meal. This will be toward the end of the shift when things aren’t quite so busy. If you would like a meal please ask the manager on duty when is an appropriate time, and which dishes we can spare.


Sometimes we also have leftovers which you can takeaway. If you’d like to take food away you need to bring your own container.

Our customers – are a very colourful, mixed bunch of people. 70-80% of them are homeless or what we consider to be “in need”. Some of these people will have trespasses to the City Mission, some will have criminal convictions, and many are or have been addicts. We operate on the principle that if we are nice to people they will be nice back. So far we have had no problems with anyone, but it is important to be aware of this as a volunteer.

Intoxication: we do not want to have to deal with people who are heavily intoxicated. If you suspect someone may be problematic tell Nick or Amanda and they will take care of it for you.

Sexual harassment: If you feel that someone is making advances toward you or acting inappropriately, and it is making you feel uncomfortable please see Nick or Amanda and they will deal with it on your behalf. We have experienced a few customers trying to give wait staff their phone numbers but we are yet to have a problem. We want our volunteers to know that we have their back. We find that our guests are very well behaved because the collective group keeps everyone in check.

BYO: we have had guests bring their own alcohol and pour it discreetly into their water glass. This is not allowed. If you see this please let Nick or Amanda know.

Theft: our donation tin has been stolen, although we recovered it. It is chained to a table. If you see people lurking around it or looking at it as though they might steal it please let Nick or Amanda know.

Agro/Fighting: We have not had any issues yet but some of our customers will have had confrontations in the past. If an incident breaks out please remove yourself from harm's way and let Nick or Amanda know.

Hygiene: A number of our guests live on the streets so may not be particularly hygienic. If you think someone may have touched another person's cutlery/food/glassware etc please replace it with a clean/new one.

things to look out for

The job of our volunteers is to help serve food and beverage to what are mostly very grateful and lovely people. It is not your job to do anything beyond what is outlined above. If you feel uncomfortable at any stage then please remove yourself from the situation and let Nick or Amanda know what has happened.

Please be aware that we are borrowing the space and some of the equipment from Te Whau. If you think you broken something or changed any part of their space, you think we need to know about, please tell us. It doesn’t matter if you have made a mistake, we just need to know so they don’t turn up to work and we haven’t had a chance to solve any problems.