Busboys or busgirls or S.A. , increasingly referred to as bussers, work
in the restaurant and catering industry clearing dirty dishes, taking the dirty dishes to the dishwasher, setting tables, and otherwise assisting the waiting staff.
At an upscale restaurant, they may bring water and introductory foods, for example tortilla chips and salsa in a Mexican restaurant or bread in an Italian restaurant. The busboy may also serve drinks and sweep the floor under the tables. Occasionally, they also perform extra duty for the server by refilling the customers water or getting more bread. The busser is also usually responsible for cleaning up spills occurring in the kitchen or dining room.
In most smaller family diners, the busboy is responsible for washing the cutlery (also known as silverware in the U.S.) and dishes and stocking the kitchen and waiter stations.
The most popular method of organization is for the busboy to be assigned a station, or area of tables, which he or she shall serve. At most restaurants, the busser is responsible for taking out the trash also.
Typically, a busboy receives a separate, fixed payment or wage.
Bus tubs or bus boxes are tubs used to clear dirty tables. The items cleared from the table are stored in the bus tub and taken into the dish area. The tubs are often used when the busser has a banquet or multiple tables to clear. These tubs save time by lessening the busser's trips to the dishwasher. Large trays are also imperative to have for clearing tables. Restaurants must also have glass racks for the busser to unload the dirty dishes.
Famous persons who worked as busboys
- Martin Luther King Jr., civil leader
- Alec Baldwin, actor, was a busboy at Studio 54, a New York City disco.
- Ike Barinholtz, actor and comedian on MADtv.
- Dick Cavett, actor and host of The Dick Cavett Show
- Johnny Depp, actor
- Richard Feynman, American physicist and Nobel Laureate, worked as a busboy in his aunt's restaurant in New York in the 1930s
- Jake Gyllenhaal actor, was a busboy at the restaurant of a family friend.
- Langston Hughes, writer & poet; dubbed the "busboy poet" by journalists after a famed poet read his work on a restaurant table and decided to publish his first compilation.
- Andy Kaufman, worked as a busboy allegedly in case something happened to his acting career.
- Ho Chi Minh, Vietnamese revolutionary and President, was a busboy in Boston at the Parker House Hotel.
- Nic Newsham, singer for the band Gatsbys American Dream, was a busboy at Billy Mchales, a restaurant in Bellingham, WA
- Raymond Orteig, hotelier.
- Jon Stewart, comedian, and host of The Daily Show worked as a busboy at a Mexican restaurant. Stewart has in fact named his production company Busboy Productions.
- Jhonen Vasquez, cartoonist
- Wally Wood, cartoonist
- Robert Downey Jr., actor, worked as a busboy at a restaurant in New York City, was 'too sweaty' to work as a waiter.
Busboys in history and popular culture
- Raw Dog Screaming Press published a Tom Bradley novel entitled Lemur, about a would-be serial killing busboy.
- The Coconut Grove fire in Boston, Massachusetts was started accidentally when a busboy lit a match.
- A band called The Busboys had success with two songs "The Boys Are Back In Town" and "Cleanin' Up The Town" featured in the movie Ghostbusters.
- Busboys are quite common in the works of comic artist Corey Lewis.
- Busboys were portrayed as lazy, habitual cannabis users in the film, "Waiting..." (played by comedian Andy Milonakis and Max Kasch).
- An early Seinfeld episode entitled The Busboy was centered around a busboy who was fired due to George Costanza's accidental actions.
- In the Smallville episode "Fracture" from series 7, a busboy at a diner where Clark Kent's cousin Kara works, is obsessed with her, and shoots Lex Luthor fearing that he will take Kara away after arriving at the diner. After Lois Lane arrives at the diner (in pursuit of Lex), the busboy holds Kara and Lois hostage.