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Choosing the Right Shoes to Work in a Restaurant

About the Author

Daniel Shemtob

He was on Food Network's "Great Food Truck Race", ultimately winning Season 2. Soon after he launched multiple trucks and brand partnerships, progressing into his Brick and Mortar TLT Food (The Lime Truck), first store launched in Westwood in 2012. As well as a high-end restaurant in 2018, called Hatch Yakitori + Bar, a Japanese Yakitori restaurant based in downtown LA and winner of LA Weekly's "Best Yakitori Restaurant". He then partnered with Dr. Snibbe for a fully functioning work shoe that blends aesthetics and functionality called Snibbs. He’s on a mission to enrich worker’s lives, one shoe at a time by creating a work shoe that's inspired by everything that's wrong with the one you're probably still wearing.
Chef Shoes

If you work in a restaurant/hospitality, the best investment you can make is in a pair of shoes that serve you well. After all, there are several occupational hazards that you are dealing with. For one, you are always on your feet and comfort is at a premium. In addition to this, you could also be dealing with a lot of spillages, and slips and falls could be a reality. Here’s a good reality check for you to see what you should look out for in your shoes and whether you are actually making the error and wearing the wrong shoes to work.

1. Comfort

The most important thing you need in a shoe especially when you have to stand for long hours in comfort. Ensure therefore that the shoe comes with a protective insole that gives the cushioning your feet deserve. In addition, an ergonomically designed midsole goes a long way in providing relief and reducing strain in the various parts of the foot.

If you aren’t opting for a wide toe box, your choice of shoes isn’t quite right. This is because as you stand for hours at the end your feet tend to swell up.  With a wide toe box, you have room for this swelling. 

Another non-compromisable aspect of a comfortable shoe is a deep heel cup that stabilizes your foot and aligns it to the knee, hips and ankles. With this alignment, pronation is limited and what you do not have to contend with is a pain in your feet and back.

2. Slip-Resistant Outsole

If you aren’t opting for shoes that come with a slip-resistant outer sole, you sure are inviting injury. In a restaurant where spillages are common and where the speed of delivery is at a premium, you need to protect yourself against slips and falls. Therefore, ensure that you are equipped with kitchen shoes that provide superior slip resistance and a firm grip whether it is a wet floor or a floor coated with oil.

3. Water-Resistant Upper

Ensure that you go with shoes that are made of a water-resistant material. With such shoes, you do not have the fear of your feet being soaked, each time someone drops a glass of water or sauce in the kitchen. In fact, this also brings us to an important question that often gets asked - can waitresses wear open-toe shoes? Well, the answer to that needs to be a no. With the fear of plates and glasses that can get dropped, liquids that can spill, open toes are extremely vulnerable to injury. Add to this the fact that other servers are rushing by and that there are kitchen doors swinging, you certainly do not want any injury to your toe. There is also the added fear of a customer moving his or her chair while you are walking past. Closed-toe shoes are therefore big protection.

In fact, other than open toe shoes, it will be prudent to avoid the following category of shoes:

  • High heels for obvious reasons
  • Running shoes, as they do not come with slip-resistance
  • Ballet flats, as they do very little to support your feet
To sum up, with the wrong shoes, spending hours on your feet can turn out to be a big nightmare. Find a shoe that offers you comfort without it being a misfit with your restaurant’s dress code.