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Restaurant Shoes: A Food Service Worker’s Guide To Footwear

Posted by Jesse Flores on

Runners agonize over their footwear choices, and they’re only running for a short portion of their day. If you work in food service, you may feel like you just ran a marathon after coming off a shift. Like retail workers, you’re on your feet on cement all day, so it’s important to make sure that you’re not causing injury and fatigue by choosing bad footwear. So what are the best restaurant shoes?

Depending on your role in the restaurant, you may have different footwear needs. Let’s break it down and take a look at what you should be looking for in your next set of work shoes:

Are You On The Waitstaff?

Let’s start with one of the most visible jobs in any restaurant: front-of-house service.

Servers don’t get to stand still. As a server, you’re constantly running from table to table. Whether you’re running trays of food and drink out to tables or running orders back to the kitchen, you’re always on the move.

This means that you need shoes that are going to support your alignment. The more you move, the more fatigued your feet and legs become. This is why it’s important to have the right support under your feet to keep them from rolling in, (overpronating,) when you’re tired. (Especially if your foot type tends to lead you that way!)

A solution may be a good pair of running shoes with a nice wide base and plenty of medial arch support. But since waitstaff are such a visible part of a restaurant’s operations, a running shoe may not fit dress code when it comes to restaurant shoes. And a mesh shoe, while breathable and lightweight, is not as easy to clean spilled food and drink off of as it’s leather counterpart.

Just be sure that you aren’t just looking at the upper portion of the shoe, pick a shoe with a wide base for balance and a contoured midsole to support your medial arch. (Learn more about it in our post on the Anatomy of a Shoe.)

Having a hard time finding a black leather shoe for work that has all the support you need? Try an insole for added support!

Are You In The Kitchen?

Kitchen staff have a different set of difficulties.

You’re not rushing from room to room, but you’re standing in one place for hours. Working hard, slaving over a hot stove. Or a dishwasher. Or a prep station.

Regardless of your kitchenly duties, your feet are going to get tired. And the more fatigued your feet get, the more you tend to shift into unhealthy positions. As a result, there are all sorts of weight distribution issues that can throw your lower extremities, (and maybe even your lower back,) out of whack.

On top of that, you’re in a wet environment with slippery surfaces and spillable material as far as the eye can see. Water resistant shoes are advisable, as are shoes with non-slip soles.

Just be sure you recognize: just because a shoe is non-slip doesn’t mean that it’s supporting you the way you need!

Be sure to pick a shoe with good arch support in the midsole, a wide outsole, and preferably a heel cup to help with weight distribution. If you can’t find any shoes that meet these categories while being waterproof and non-slip, (or if you’re ordering off a catalog provided by work with limited options,) you may want to add support with an insole.

Are You At The Host Station?

If you’re a host or hostess, you actually may have it the roughest out of everyone on this list.

Why?

Because you have the standing issues of the kitchen staff, along with the movement issues of the waitstaff.

And you usually have to do it in dress shoes.

In most restaurants, the hostess is the most well-dressed person on staff. Which makes sense, you’re the first person customers see when they walk through the door. You set the tone for the dining experience. So most of the folks manning the hosting podium have to look good.

That means impractical dress shoes. And it means high heels. And it means that you put your feet through a gruelling amount of effort with little to no actual support.

This is where we humbly suggest looking for a supportive insole to help give your the support you need. Look for an insole that isn’t just a soft “shock absorber,” look for firm areas in the medial arch area that provide real support.

Orange offers an insole for almost any style of shoe. (Yes, that includes heels!) An Orange Insole uses a heel cup and a metatarsal pad to help with weight distribution issues from standing, and helps keep you aligned in movement. Check out our inventory to find a style and size that’s right for you… and keep your feet happy while you keep diners happy!


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