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SELF SERVICE This type of service is commonly found in cafeteria and canteens. It involves customers/guests serving themselves with little assistance from the waiters/waitresses.   Types of  Self Service Cafeteria/Counter service: Here the customers queue in line formation past a service counter and choose their menu requirements in stages before loading them on a tray. […]


This type of service is commonly found in cafeteria and canteens. It involves customers/guests serving themselves with little assistance from the waiters/waitresses.


Types of  Self Service

  1. Cafeteria/Counter service: Here the customers queue in line formation past a service counter and choose their menu requirements in stages before loading them on a tray. They collect the necessary cutleries and find suitable tables to consume their meals.
  2. Free Flow: Selection from a counter but in food service area where customers move at will to random service point. Customers usually exit the service area via payment point.
  3. Echelon: This is a service of counters at angle to the customer flow within a free-flow area, thus saving space. Each of the service point may offer a different main course dish.
  4. Buffets: This is a type of service where guests are expected to serve themselves. It is also known as self- service. In this service, variety of dishes is displayed on a long table and guests are expected to serve themselves. There are various types of buffet.  The requirements of a particular occasion and the host’s wishes will determine the exact format in setting up the buffet table/ room.


Types of Buffet

  1. Finger Buffet: The guests select and consume the food with their fingers. The food and beverages may be at a buffet table or on trays that are carried by the waiters. Foods that do not require the use of cutlery are usually served. There is provision for napkins or serviettes for guests.
  2. Stands up or Fork Buffet: It is also known as stands-up buffet. The guest selects foods that are transferred on to a plate and he then eats the food using only a fork. There is no provision for elaborate cutlery; hence the name ‘fork buffet’, since one cannot use a knife and fork when one is eating while standing. Anything that would need a knife is avoided. The room organization is similar to that used for finger buffet.
  3. Display/ Sit down buffet: The guests select their food and then eat at a table. The guests approach the table to select their required meal, course by course. The guests then return to their tables to consume the different parts of the meal.  The table layouts are similar to the standard banquet layouts.


Basic Principles/Format in Setting up a Buffet Room

(i)    The buffet should be set up in a prominent position in the room

(ii)   There should be ample space on the buffet for display and presentation.

(iii)  The buffet should be within easy access of the still room and wash –up to avoid disturbing the     customers.

(iv)   There must be ample space for customer circulation.

(v)    Provision should be made for sufficient occasional tables and chairs within the room.

(vi)   The total presentation of the room should be attractive and promote a good atmosphere that is                  appropriate for the occasion.



  1. Define the following: (a) Cafeteria service (b) Buffet service
  2. State four principles in setting up a buffet room.



Here the customer orders, pays and receives the food and beverages for  instance at a counter, at a bar in licensed premises, in a fast food operation or at a vending machine.


In single point service customer comes to where the food and beverage service is offered. The service is provided in area primarily designed for that purpose.

Types of Single Point Service

The main forms of single point services are found in:

  1. Takeaway: Here customers order is served from single point, at a counter, hatch or snack stand. Customer consumes off the premises, though some takeaway establishment provide dining areas.

This also includes  drive-thru where customer drives vehicles past order, payment and collection points.

Fast food which is originally used to describe service at a counter where customers receive a complete meal or dish in exchange for cash or ticket nowadays describe as type of establishment offering limited range of menu, fast-service with dining areas and takeaway facilities .

  1. Kiosks: It is an outstation used to provide service for peak demand in specific location. It may be open for customers to order and be served, it can also be used for dispensing to staff only.
  2. Food Court: This involves series of autonomous counters where customers may either order and eat, or buy from a number of counters and eat in separate eating area or takeaway.
  3. Bar: Bar is used to describe a place where drinks are sold. Customers may order for drinks to be taking away or consumed in licensed premises.



  1. Explain what you understand by single point service.
  2. List and explain two types of single point service.


Vending service

This refers to selling of foods and beverages to customers using an automated machine known as vending machine.Vending machines are found in canteens, factories, offices, industrial concerns, railway station, etc.

Vending machines used for food service operation include:

  1. Merchandiser – Here customer can view the products on sale. It can be used for refrigerated drinks and per-packaged meals and snacks.  It can also be used for hot meals and snacks.
  2. Hot beverages Vendor – This mixes the powdered ingredients with hot water to produce the product.
  3. In cup system – Here the ingredients are already in individual cups to which hot water is added.
  4. Micro-vend system – Provides a range of hot or cold foods from which the customer may make a selection and heat in an accompanying microwave oven.

Advantages of Food Service Vending

  1. Low-cost automatic vending machines are cheaper to operate than the conventional method.
  2. It can provide a 24- hour service.
  3. Food cost control automatic vending machine allows for strict portion control.
  4. Automatic vending machines offer a wide variety of hot and cold snacks and beverages.
  5. Reduced wastage as long as the customer demand has been correctly gauged, wastage can be reduced to a minimum.


Disadvantages of Vending

  1. There may be very little, if any, human presence.
  2. The machines are subject to power failure and power surge.
  3. One spoilt can take vital service hours to repair.



  1. Explain the following terms: (a)Vending service (b) Buffet service (c) Silver service
  2. State three types of buffet service.
  3. State three responsibilities of a receptionist.
  4. List the classification of vegetables.
  5. Explain gueridon service.



  1. An electronic machine used to dispense a product to a consumer after a certain amount has been put into the machine is called ____. A. mis-en-place B. vending C. silver D. gold
  2. ____ service also means serve yourself. Vending B. Buffet  C. Silver  D. Gold
  3. ____ service is a method of food service that involves transferring food from a service dish to the guest plate from the left. A. Palater B. Gueridon C. Silver D. Buffet
  4. Which of these is not a type of buffet? A. Finger B. Display C. Fork D. Silver
  5. ____ allows the guest selects and consumes foods with the fingers A. Fork buffet B. Finger buffet C. Display buffet D. Silver buffet



  1. Explain the following terms: (a) Food court (b)   Buffet service (c)   Vending service
  2. State three types of buffet service


See also






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