Food Service Jobs for Expats in Europe
A very common type of job in the hospitality industry is serving food and drink of various types and in various ways. Any resort will have many positions of this type, and in cities bars and restaurants always need new help since these tend to be high turnover positions.
Bar and restaurant jobs roughly fall into three categories; front end, back end, and administration positions. Front end positions are the jobs where you interact directly with the customers. This includes, waiters and waitresses, bartenders, hosts and hostesses, Maître de, wine steward, and so on.
With these jobs you are the front line, getting the larger percentage of tips, (if any), and dealing with all the hassles that only demanding people on vacation can give you.
The next category is the back end positions. These are the cooks, dishwashers, busboys, and cleaners who help to prepare food and clean up after the food’s been eaten. Generally, with these positions you don’t have nearly the stress of the front end staff. At the same time, you generally don’t make as much since both wages and tips are smaller.
The final category is the administration positions. This includes managers, assistant managers and book keepers who help to run the business side of the business. These are going to be the best paying jobs available, but also require you to either have some experience in that type of position or some formal training or certification.
There are bar, pub, and restaurant jobs in every country in Europe; Europeans love to eat out and go out drinking with friends even more than in North America. There are plenty of jobs to be had, which means your biggest challenge is going to be getting a work visa for the country. You will generally have to get a student visa, a working holiday visa for Canadians, or try to work under the table. Very few food and beverage jobs are going to qualify you for skilled immigrant status in the countries that have that kind of program.
Wages for jobs are going to vary a lot from one end of Europe to another. For instance, a dishwasher in the UK will make the equivalent of about 1,600 USD/month. In Switzerland, a dishwasher would make about 2,700 USD/month. Another thing to be aware of is that tipping is much lower in Europe than in North America, typically only 5-10% of the bill. However, many places will include a service charge into the price of the meal and so you usually get a guaranteed percentage from any meal.
In the summer at beach resorts and the winter at ski resorts there are all kinds of food and drink serving positions that open up. A lot of these will be for only a few months, but they are ideal if you are doing something like a working holiday. For these kinds of places, expect to be dealing with far more international tourists rather than serving locals as you would be doing in bar or restaurant in a city.
A little bit of extra attention has to be given to the classic job of tending a small pub in the UK or Ireland. Finding a pub job under the table that also gave you your accommodations has been a tradition for North Americans jetting to Europe for decades. With some of these jobs you bartend, serve the food, cook the food, and bus the tables, and the wage is about 5-7 pounds/hour. There are still plenty of these jobs available in the UK and Ireland. In the smaller towns, you will probably be able to get away with working under the table if you need to. In London, many owners will ask to see your work permits, so you are better off getting a student visa or a work permit through BUNAC.
To find what jobs are available in specific countries, check out the tourism jobs section. There are literally thousands of pub and bar jobs all over Europe just waiting to be snatched up by someone with a friendly smile.