Best Shoes for Restaurant Servers & Waitresses

12 Shoe Models Featured

We tested more than 50 pairs of shoes; the best shoes for servers and waitresses are the Dr. Martens Maltby (women) and Caterpillar Prorush (men).

In our search, we spoke to more than 40 servers, bussers and waiters (both genders). We worked through their recommended shoes, trying on most. We looked for durability, comfort and style.

We wanted the shoes to look professional enough for front of house use and comfortable enough for the kitchen. We also wanted to see how supportive each shoe was. After all, long shifts on your feet require supportive footwear. Other features we looked at were were cushioning, slip-resistance and durability.

Both the Caterpillar Prorush and the Dr. Martens Maltby fit the bill perfectly. They’re available in black options and have a smart look to them. They offer unparalleled support and provide all-day comfort. They’re super comfortable and both include non-slip outsoles.

Having said that, other waitressing shoes stood out in different ways. For example, the Dr. Martens Brockleys (men) the Skechers Work Relaxed Fit (women) are outstanding slip-ons. Likewise, the best formal/dress shoes we tested were the Nuun Bush Sherman Shoes (men) and the Clarks Raisie Bloom Oxfords (women).

Keep reading to find the most suitable shoes for your needs.

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Table of Contents

Best Shoes for Servers (Men)

editors pick

98/100

Our Score

editors pick

Caterpillar Men's Prorush Sr+

Caterpillar Men's Prorush Sr+

Why this product?

This shoe features a footbed that is designed to cradle your foot while providing top-notch arch support. The thick and durable non-slip sole has been tested against oil, soap, and water. Inside, a breathable mesh lining wicks away moisture and prevents overheating. 

98/100

Our Score

The best men’s shoes for restaurant servers are the Caterpillar Prorush Sr+ Oxfords. Better known for their hard-wearing work boots, I was surprised to see Caterpillar on our list. But they have almost everything you could ever want in a work shoe.

The flat non-slip outsole is thick and durable. The intricate tread pattern delivers reliable traction across a range of conditions. It’s tested for slip-resistance against oil, soap and water. And it’s hard-wearing. You won’t need to replace this non-slip shoe for a while.

There’s a Supreme Contoured Cushioning footbed. This is designed to cradle your foot. It produces top-notch arch support and has cushioning around the heel and toes. This ensures high-level comfort and prevents your feet moving around in the shoe. It’s also removable so you can wash the shoes or add your own insole.

A soft, breathable mesh lining wicks moisture away from your feet and prevents you from overheating while at work. It’s treated with an anti-odour coating that prevents the build-up of odour causing bacteria.

The upper is made from 100% full-grain leather. It’s hardwearing, waterproof and easy to clean. Ideal for servers and bussers. They’re constructed using the Strobel Stitch method, much like athletic shoes. This ensures the shoes have maximum flexibility without affecting the durability.

These shoes also offer electrical hazard protection. They’re a great choice if you work near or around large electrical equipment like dishwashers or freezers.

The one thing missing is a roomy toe box. If you like a bit of wiggle room, we suggest ordering the wide version. Also, although the shoes are made of leather, they look like smart casual Oxfords. If your workplace has a strict formal dress code, look in the Best Formal Shoe section.

Pros

  • Non-slip
  • Breathable
  • 100% Leather Upper
  • Flexible
  • Durable

Cons

  • Size up if you like wiggle room
  • May not be appropriate for workplaces that have a formal dress code

Best Shoes for Servers (Women)

editors pick

98/100

Our Score

editors pick

Dr. Martens Women's Maltby

Dr. Martens Women's Maltby

Why this product?

The shoe features a water-resistant upper with double and triple-stitching for ultimate durability. The GRIP-TRAX outsole delivers consistent, high-level traction. The antimicrobial footbed is cushioned for all-day, odor-free comfort.

99/100

Our Score

Our favourite waitress shoe is the Dr. Martens Maltby work shoe. The quality, comfort and durability Dr. Martens are all well-known. This model is no exception.

The upper is made from soft, industrial-grade leather. It’s hardwearing, water-resistant and easy to clean. There’s double, sometimes triple, stitching along most of the seams. This increases durability, ensuring that the rugged leather doesn’t come apart. Style-wise, the shoes are formal enough to be used in almost any work setting. They’d only be out of place in really high-end restaurants.

The ankle collar is well padded, offering a lot of support. The tongue is synthetic. It’s breathable, allowing air to flow in and out of the shoe and preventing your feet from overheating. The footbed is anti-microbial, which prevents the build-up of odour causing bacteria. It’s cushioned too, delivering all-day comfort and support.

Dr. Martens have included their GRIP-TRAX slip-resistant outsole on these work shoes. Its sharp, defined edges dissipate liquids with ease. This means the soles deliver consistent, high-level traction no matter what you’re walking through. It’s also heat-resistant,non-marking, and electrical hazard safe. It’s a good choice for servers who are in and out of the kitchen a lot. It’s definitely more comfortable than the synthetic sole other Doc Martens models have.

These shoes are also a great choice for the eco-conscious. The interior lining is made from 100% recycled materials. The only con is the relatively high price point.

As with most Dr. Martens, these shoes can take a long time to break in completely. To avoid blisters, it’s best to wear thick socks and only use the shoes for a couple of hours at a time. Once broken in, these are some of the most comfortable shoes we’ve tested. It’s worth the effort.

You’ll also need to keep an eye on the sizing. These shoes come up a little big and aren’t available in half sizes. If you usually wear a half size, go down rather than up.

Pros

  • Leather
  • Breathable
  • Eco-conscious
  • Slip-resistant outsole
  • Heat-resistant and electrical hazard safe

Cons

  • Break-in time not ideal
  • May need to size down

Best Formal Restaurant Shoe (Men)

97/100

Our Score

Nunn Bush Men's Sherman

Nunn Bush Men's Sherman

Why this product?

These Oxfords feature a flexible faux leather upper, along with a padded collar and tongue that provide excellent support. A dual-density insole completes the shoe by distributing weight evenly and absorbing impact.

97/100

Our Score

The best men’s dress shoe for restaurant servers is the Nuun Bush Sherman. These smart non-slip Oxfords are classy and comfortable. They don’t look out of place in high-end establishments but have the feel of an athletic shoe.

The shoe has a padded collar and tongue. They provide excellent support and ensure there’s no rubbing on the top of your foot or ankle. The upper is made from faux leather. It’s durable and has a professional look. It’s also soft and flexible, so won’t pinch your feet as you walk.

The Truecontrol Mark 2 outsole is slip-resistant and non-marking. It’s covered in an intricate tread pattern that disperses liquids while providing consistent traction. It’s also resistant to oil, . Perfect for servers or bussers who spend time walking outside or through busy kitchens.

The dual-density cushioned insole is made from a combination of memory foam and EVA layers. It’s supportive and comfortable. There’s cushioning around your heel and toes. This offers some striking impact protection and helps distribute your weight across the shoe. The lining is also soft, adding to the overall comfort level.

These shoes are great value for money. They’re some of the best priced and most comfortable Oxford shoes we’ve tested.

Because of their faux leather construction, these shoes aren’t as breathable as most other shoes on our list. We found that in hot environments they can get a little too warm. If you spend a lot of time in the back of the house, keep that in mind.

Pros

  • Memory Foam 
  • Faux Leather 
  • Impact Protection
  • Comfort 

Cons

  • Not Breathable

Best Formal Restaurant Shoe (Women)

95/100

Our Score

Clarks Women's Raisie Bloom Oxford

Clarks Women's Raisie Bloom Oxford

Why this product?

This shoe offers a high-rebound midsole that absorbs impact on every step. The slip-resistant outsole provides good traction while also adding bounce and cushion. 

95/100

Our Score

Our favourite women’s formal shoes for restaurant servers are the Clarks Rasie Bloom Oxfords. Whenever we get the opportunity to test Clarks, we walk away smiling – and these Oxfords were no exception.

They’re as comfortable on your feet as reliable old sneakers but are dressy enough to be worn in high-end restaurants. The upper is leather. It’s durable, easy to clean and best of all, looks great.

The slip-resistant rubber outsole is tough. It’s covered in an aggressive, serrated tread pattern which provides good traction across a range of conditions. It also provides an element of bounce and cushioning to keep you comfortable through your shift.

Speaking of comfort, the shoes are built using Clarks’ proprietary Cushion Soft Technology. This high-rebound midsole performs like an upgraded version of the common EVA midsole. It absorbs the impact of every step and cradles your feet when you’re standing still. There’s also a breathable, textile lining that prevents the build-up of moisture around your feet.

The shoes include an Ortholite footbed. This offers a lot of support to your toes, heel and arches. It protects you from the rigours of being on your feet all day. If necessary, this footbed can be removed and replaced with your own custom orthotics.

Note that it can take a while to break these shoes in. Especially around the heel area where the leather feels most stiff. Expect it to take a few days, if not a week or two before these shoes are at their most comfortable. During that time, make sure you wear thick socks or have plasters at hand to protect the skin on your heels.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Ortholite footbed
  • Leather
  • Comfortable

Cons

  • Break-in time not ideal

Best Outdoor Server Shoes (Men)

95/100

Our Score

KEEN Utility Men's PTC Oxford

KEEN Utility Men's PTC Oxford

Why this product?

Great for outdoor servers, this shoe offers extra protection from the elements and a thick sole to ensure traction on any surface. Inside, the midsole and footbed absorb impact and stabilize your foot. 

95/100

Our Score

The best men’s shoe for servers working outdoors is the KEEN Utility PTC Oxford.

Servers working outdoors need to consider a couple of extra things when it comes to choosing shoes. Firstly, a little more protection from the elements. And secondly, a thicker sole that won’t wear out on concrete but will provide traction in softer surfaces like mud or sand. These KEENs have both.

The upper is made from water-resistant leather. It’s stain-resistant and easy to clean. This leather also offers good insulation and protection from the elements. A moisture-wicking interior lining will stop your feet overheating. Great if you’re working outside in the middle of summer.

The chunky rubber sole is made using KEEN.Grip technology. This is both oil and slip-resistant. It’s got a deep tread pattern that delivers reliable grip. The smaller razor cut tread pattern disperses liquids with ease. The outsole also curls up over the toes. It keeps you safe from knocks and bumps while working outside.

KEEN have included their KEEN.Cush footbed technology in these shoes. It’s made from a mixture of recycled plastic, cork and memory foam. It conforms to the contours of your feet and adjusts as you move to provide long-lasting comfort. You can also remove the footbed and replace it with prescription orthotics if required.

The midsole is compression moulded, adding extra support and cushioning. It absorbs impacts and prevents your feet sliding around inside the shoes. Another stability feature is the TPU stability shank running between the midsole and outsole. This is flexible enough to allow your foot to move and stretch but provides increased stability. It’s especially useful if you work on uneven or rocky terrain.

Out of the box, the sole on these shoes isn’t as good as other non-slip shoes. It needs to be worn in a little before it’s at its grippiest. Ensure you wear the shoes on a rough surface like concrete for a couple of days before relying on the non-slip to keep you upright.

Pros

  • Extra support
  • TPU stability shank
  • Footbed technology
  • Water resistant

Cons

  • Need to break in the soles for ultimate traction and grip

Best Outdoor Server Shoes (Women)

94/100

Our Score

KEEN Women's Presidio Shoe

KEEN Women's Presidio Shoe

Why this product?

This shoe features a thick and durable sole — great for outdoor servers! The footbed is supportive and well-cushioned, but can be replaced with custom insoles if desired.

94/100

Our Score

Our favourite women’s shoe for servers working outdoors is the KEEN Presidio.

Working outdoors introduces your shoes to a wide range of surfaces and temperatures. You need to be able to rely on them to get you through. You’ll want a little more protection from the elements and a thicker, more durable sole. You’ll need the shoes to be stable and provide plenty of traction. These KEEN Presidios have everything you need.

They’re water-resistant thanks to the full-grain leather upper. This also means they’re more formal than synthetic models. Leather is more protective than synthetics too. It will protect you from the elements and from knocks or scrapes. In this model, the leather is combined with mesh lining for breathability.

The thick, slip-resistant outsole is covered in a deep tread pattern. It dispersed fluids quickly and creates a very grippy shoe. It’s non-marking too, so you can wear these on polished floors. The sole comes up over the toes. This patented KEEN design protects you from knocks and bumps while working outdoors.

The Metatomical footbed is dual-density. It’s supportive and well-cushioned, absorbing shocks and preventing your feet from moving in the shoes. It doesn’t need breaking in, so it’s comfortable straight out of the box. If needed, you can remove this footbed to replace it with your own insoles.

The interior mesh lining is breathable and treated with Cleansport NXT technology. This allows your feet to breathe and prevents the build-up of odours – something we love to see in work shoes.

Note that these shoes have just been through a redesign. While they’re still some of our favourites, they’re no longer quite so suitable for people with wide feet. The design has become narrower than in previous versions. If you wear KEENs for their wide design, it might be time to consider another brand.

Pros

  •  Stability
  • Breathable lining
  • NXT Technology
  • Metatomical footbed

Cons

  • Narrow fit

Most Breathable Server Shoes (Men)

92/100

Our Score

Skechers Men's GO Walk 5

Skechers Men's GO Walk 5

Why this product?

This lightweight shoe supports your foot with elastic side panels and reinforced heel and toe areas. The Goga Mat insole prevents overheating and offers more bounce than memory foam.

92/100

Our Score

The best lightweight/breathable/mesh serving shoes for men is the Skechers GO Walk 5. These slip-on shoes are the fifth generation of Skechers popular GO Walk range. They have a lightweight mesh upper. It’s rugged and breathable. A solid option for servers or bussers working in a hot environment.

The GO Walk 5 has dual-sided elastic panels which grip the top of your foot. This prevents your feet from moving inside the shoe. It increases the support, comfort and stability offered by these shoes. The elastic also makes slipping your feet into the shoes a doddle. A pull tab on the heel helps get the shoes on quickly. The heel and toe areas have reinforced sections for durability. These shoes are built to last.

The outsole is made using Skechers’ Comfort Pillar Technology. This dual-density material offers excellent support and stability. It reacts to each footstep, adapting to your footfalls to provide high-end comfort. It’s flexible as well, allowing your feet to bend naturally which prevents foot ache and fatigue.

The Ultra GO midsole is well-cushioned. It provides high tier support and all-day comfort. It keeps your foot suspended in the foam layers and offers excellent shock absorption.

The Goga Mat insole is another example of Skechers’ technology. This high rebound material is moisture-wicking and breathable. It’ll prevent overheating and reduce the amount of moisture around your feet. It offers more bounce than memory foam and is more durable. In our opinion, this is THE perfect insole for servers, bussers and restaurant workers.

Thanks to their single colour design, these shoes look more formal than they feel. They’re suitable for most workplaces and are fully machine washable. In fact, due to its formal design and high comfort level, it’s a great option for cashiers.

These shoes do run a bit narrow. Especially around the toe box. If you have wide feet, ensure you order the extra wide option.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • No laces
  • Flexible
  • Washable
  • Comfort Pillar Technology 

Cons

  • Narrow fit

Most Breathable Waitress Shoes (Women)

93/100

Our Score

Skechers GO Walk Max 54601

Skechers GO Walk Max 54601

Why this product?

The mesh construction of this shoe is ultra-breathable and has reinforcements around the heel and toe for added stability. GOwalk Max tech ensures the midsole and outsole work in harmony to absorb shocks.

93/100

Our Score

The best lightweight/breathable/mesh women’s shoes for restaurant servers are the Skechers GO Walk Max 54601. They’re some of the lightest yet most comfortable shoes on our list. This is down to their mesh construction and 5GEN moulded sole.

The mesh upper is ultra breathable. It lets air flow around your feet, preventing any overheating. It has solid weave mesh reinforcement around the toe and heel for added stability and longevity. The lace eyes are reinforced too. Everything is built for maximum comfort.

The 5GEN sole is soft but supportive. It’s non-slip and provides great traction, even on wet surfaces. GOwalk Max technology means the outsole and midsole are formed from a single piece of durable foam. They work in perfect harmony, absorbing shocks and offering good energy return for each step.

Skechers’ Goga Max insole is lightweight and responsive. It offers excellent bounce back. Reduces foot fatigue and helps keep your comfortable, even after hours on your feet. It’s more durable than memory foam, so you won’t need to replace it in a hurry.

In the black colour, these shoes fit right in at any restaurant. If they get too dirty, they’re machine washable. They also dry quickly thanks to their mesh construction.

It can take some time to get used to exactly how much traction these anti-slip shoes provide. We suggest spending a few days getting used to them before taking them to work. There’s also no waterproofing to these shoes. If you spill any liquid on them, it will quickly load through to your feet.

Pros

  • Breathable
  • Durable
  • 5Gen Sole
  • Supportive
  • Washable

Cons

  • Not Waterproof 

Most Comfortable Server Shoes (Men)

94/100

Our Score

New Balance 577

New Balance 577

Why this product?

This shoe allows your foot to move naturally without putting any strain on it. The thick leather upper is durable and perforated to maintain breathability.

94/100

Our Score

The best men’s shoe for comfort is the New Balance 577. It ranks among one of the most comfortable shoes we’ve ever tried. And it’s available in wide, narrow and extra-wide. There’s an option for all foot shapes and sizes.

The upper is made of durable leather. It’s thick, hardwearing and polishable. It also includes perforations to allow your feet to breathe. If properly looked after this leather can look really professional for the life of the shoes. And the life of these shoes is long. High quality, triple stitching ensures the upper won’t come apart and the rubber outsole is one of the most durable we’ve come across.

Made of solid rubber, it’s slip-resistant and flexible. It allows your feet to move naturally without putting extra strain on them. The tread pattern delivers increased traction in all conditions. This makes them perfect for servers who are walking across spills or even outdoors during their shift.

The outsole also includes a walking strike path feature. This helps guide your foot while walking. It ensures weight is smoothly transferred from the heel to the toes with each step.
The cushioned midsole is made of dense PU foam. This is more durable than the usual EVA foam used in midsoles. It holds its shape for longer, delivering more consistent support throughout the life of the shoes. It’s more bouncy too, offering better shock absorption and energy return with each step.

Between the mid and outsole is New Balance’s ABZORB technology. This heel cushioning provides an extra layer of impact protection.

The tongue on these shoes is very long. It can rub along the top of your foot/ankle area, which gets uncomfortable over a long shift. To prevent this, wear socks that are at least ankle-high.

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • EVA Foam
  • Impact Protection
  • Shock Absorbing

Cons

  • Long Tongue

Most Comfortable Server Shoes (Women)

94/100

Our Score

Skechers Ghenter Bronaugh

Skechers Ghenter Bronaugh

Why this product?

This shoe features a tongue and collar that are both well-padded for extra comfort and support. The interior lining wicks away moisture for odor-control, and the shoe is also machine washable.

94/100

Our Score

The best women’s walking shoe for restaurant servers is the Skechers Ghenter Bronaugh. It comes as one of the most recommended shoes from the servers, bussers and waiters we spoke to.

The mesh upper is lightweight, durable and breathable. It’s available in black which blends in well with most server’s uniforms. The shoes are also machine washable, so can be kept perfectly clean for work.

The tongue and collar are both well padded. These additions mean the shoes fit snugly around your feet, creating a comfortable and supportive platform.

The soft interior lining wicks away moisture. This prevents the build-up of odours and helps create a more hygienic environment for your feet. The memory foam insole moulds to the shape of your foot. It ensures you are comfortable and supported even during a long shift. The insole can also be removed if you need to replace it.

There’s a slip-resistant outsole. It holds up well, even on a slippery surface (water, oil). And it’s non-marking. The FlexSole midsole is made using lightweight materials. It offers excellent shock absorption and is highly flexible. It allows your feet to move freely which can prevent long term injuries associated with constricting footwear.

The memory foam insert in these shoes isn’t very durable. It will likely need replacing a couple of times during the lifetime of the shoe. Thankfully, it’s removable so can easily be replaced with a different insole.

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Memory Foam Insole
  • Slip-resistant
  • Lightweight
  • Machine Washable

Cons

  • Memory foam insert is not durable, but can be easily replaced

Best Slip-On Shoe for Servers (Men)

94/100

Our Score

Dr. Martens Brockley

Dr. Martens Brockley

Why this product?

This shoe is made with industrial-grade leather that is water-resistant yet breathable. The cushioned footbed is antimicrobial for ultimate comfort and odor prevention.

94/100

Our Score

The best men’s slip-on shoe for restaurant servers we tested was the Dr. Martens Brockley.

With an industrial-grade, tumbled leather upper, these Dr. Martens have a nice professional look to them. The leather is water-resistant and breathable. It’ll protect you from errant spills and prevent your feet from overheating.

Inside the shoes, the lining is breathable and made with 100% recycled materials. Perfect for the eco-conscious among us. The footbed is cushioned and antimicrobial. It’s comfortable and prevents the build-up of odour causing bacteria. You’ll also notice that there’s plenty of wiggle room for your toes. Perfect if you have bunions, wide feet or just like roomy shoes.

The thick GRIP-TRAX outsole is slip-resistant. It’s covered in a multidirectional tread pattern that disperses liquids upon contact. This ensures the shoes deliver reliable traction, even on wet surfaces. It’s heat and electrical hazard resistant – perfect for servers or bussers that are in and out of the kitchen.

The padded collar comfortably hugs your ankle and there’s a small section of elasticated fabric on the upper. This ensures these slip-on shoes remain snug on your feet.

As is to be expected with Dr. Martens, there’s a lengthy break-in period with these shoes. Don’t try to wear them for more than a couple of hours to start with. And make sure you’re wearing thick socks. After a week or two of this, you should be able to wear them for a whole shift.

The sizing is also a little out. If in doubt, order a size down.

Pros

  • Slip-resistant
  • Lining made from 100% recycled materials
  • Comfortable
  • Slip on and Go

Cons

  • Runs large, may need to size down

Best Slip-On Shoe for Servers (Women)

94/100

Our Score

Skechers Work Relaxed Fit

Skechers Work Relaxed Fit

Why this product?

This slip-on shoe features a reinforced section around the top of your foot to ensure stability and support. The memory foam insole matches the shape of your foot to offer unparalleled comfort.

94/100

Our Score

The best women’s slip-on shoe for servers and bussers is the Skechers Work Relaxed Fit.

Made from a 100% leather upper, these shoes are formal enough for all almost any restaurant or bar. They’re also water-resistant and breathable. There’s a reinforced section around the top of your foot and light padding around the ankle. These are both weak points for slip-on shoes. It’s great to see Skechers making their shoes more durable.

The memory foam insole offers unparalleled comfort. It matches the natural shape of your foot and evenly distributes your weight. By cradling your foot in this way it helps prevent injury. The ball of your foot and heel will sink deeply into the cushioning while your arches are well supported. If you use prescription orthotics, the footbed can be removed and replaced.

The outsole offers excellent slip resistance. Its multidirectional tread ensures you retain grip, even on wet surfaces. It’s oil resistant too. Useful if you’re in and out of the kitchen at work. The sole is also covered in deep flex grooves. These allow your foot to bend and move through its natural range of motion. They can help prevent injury because they don’t limit your movement like more rigid shoes.

The heel on these shoes looks elevated. But the soft midsole compresses as you put your weight through the shoe. It ends up creating a flat, stable base as you walk.

These Skechers are a bit tighter than we usually like in work shoes. They also fit quite small. We suggest sizing up at least half a size to ensure you get the best fit possible.

Pros

  • Memory Foam Iisole
  • 100% Leather Upper
  • Slip-resistant Outsole
  • Water-resistant 

Cons

  • Runs small, may need to size up

Buying Guide - What to look for in shoes for servers

1. A Flat Sole

Elevated heel shoes are becoming more popular, especially for sports. Research suggests they shift your gait and posture to help you run faster. Anecdotally, they are said improve strength for powerlifters, olympic lifters and others. Elevated heels aren’t recommended for restaurant servers, though.

The reason is simple. When it comes to walking, you want your gait and posture to be as natural as possible. Servers can take up to 23,000 steps per day. Any change to your natural walking position over these distances will have a negative effect on the body.

Without the right footwear, servers can experience postural problems. This includes issues with their hips, knees, ankles and feet. A flat sole allows your feet to bend and flex the way nature intended. It also means your legs and joints can move through their natural range of motion. This prevents injuries and ensures your muscles remain strong.

2. Slip and Mark-Resistant

The last thing you want is to fall over while carrying a customer’s meal. Likewise, you don’t want to be leaving a trail of marks every time you walk over a polished surface. Not only does this look unprofessional, but you’ll find yourself on the wrong side of management. Not optimal.

To avoid ruining a patron’s dinner, or falling out with your boss, ensure your shoes are both slip-resistant and non-marking. Anti-slip rubber is best. If you only do front-of-house work, oil and water-resistance are optional. If you’re in the kitchen a lot, you need shoes that do well on a wet, slippery surface.

3. A Breathable Upper

Some servers are required to wear formal leather shoes at work. These tend to be non-breathable. However, it’s possible to find breathable leather shoes if you’re willing to spend a little more money.

Remember: you’re on your feet for up to 12 hours at a time, often in a hot kitchen environment. It’s worth finding shoes that will keep your feet cool and dry.

If you don’t have to wear leather shoes in your restaurant, we advise looking for shoes made from breathable materials like mesh. Keep an eye out for shoes with a moisture-wicking lining and ventilation holes too. This will ensure your feet stay dry and allow air to circulate around them.

4. Style

Even if you aren’t required to wear formal leather shoes, you’ll want something that looks professional.

Black shoes in a traditional style are best as they don’t stand out. Brightly coloured shoes will draw customer’s attention away from their food and the ambience of their surroundings.

Dark shoes don’t show dirt or damage in the same way as lightly coloured shoes either. This can help you create a professional image and allows you to represent your workplace in a positive way.

5. Durability

When you’re on your feet all day, having durable shoes is a must. This is extra important when working as a server. You’ll need your shoes to provide grip and protection. Plus they need to look professional at all times. You’ll be walking on a range of surfaces from carpet and polished marble to concrete and linoleum. An abrasion-resistant sole that can deal with rough floors is desirable.

You’ll also want shoes with a durable upper. Spilling food and drink on your shoes is common in a restaurant. Accidentally kicking objects in a tight staff area is also commonplace. An upper made of thick, durable materials is ideal. It will protect your feet and not break at the first sign of trouble.

Generally, durable shoes will cost more than a delicate pair. However, they last much longer so the investment is worth it. Especially as you won’t need to worry about replacing them every month.

6. Cushioning

When on your feet all day, you want to be comfortable. Shoes with a good level of cushioning beneath your feet will offer a lot of comfort, whether you’re standing or walking. If you are on your feet for the whole day, you need to be on the lookout for ultra-comfy and durable shoes with exceptional cushioning.

The cushioning will also protect you from the impact of walking all day. Good cushioning acts like suspension in a car. It absorbs some of the impact of each footstep, preventing the shockwaves from damaging your muscles, joints and tendons.

You’ll need to ensure there’s not too much cushioning though. It may sound counter-intuitive but you’re putting yourself at an increased risk of injury if your shoes are too cushioned. This is because we stomp our feet down harder when wearing cushioned shoes.

In the moment, we don’t feel the impact of these heavy footsteps but the long term pressure of walking like this can cause injuries to our legs and back. It can even cause stress fractures. As a server, you count on your feet to do your work well – so you can’t have that.

7. Support and Stability

The best way to prevent injuries like twisted ankles or plantar fasciitis is to have supportive footwear.

Shoes that grip the feet and give a stable base for each footstep are super important. They should allow your feet to flex naturally but still give protection against hyperflexion. It’s also worth looking for shoes with ankle support. This is doubly true if you have weak ankles or there are uneven floors at your restaurant.

Look out for shoes that have a good closure system. Laces that go to the top, a good quality zip or even Velcro that can be easily tightened, are all good choices for work shoes.

Arch support can also prove to be very useful for some servers. If you have collapsed or high arches, you’ll need as much support as you can get to prevent injury. Look out for shoes with good quality insoles.

You might even consider adding your own insoles into any of the shoes we recommend. Providing, of course, that you can remove the original footbed.

Conclusion

The best shoes for restaurant servers are the Caterpillar Prorush for men. For women, the Dr. Martens Maltbys are the best.

Both shoes have a professional look to them. They’re comfortable, durable and thanks to their slip-resistant outsoles, are perfect for use in a typical restaurant.

To buy any of the shoes on this page, consider using the links above. When you do, we make a small no commission at no cost to you. Thank you for reading!

Writer:

Tim Ashdown

Last Updated:

April 30, 2022

Tim Ashdown

Tim is an avid hiker, self-proclaimed adrenaline junkie and lover of all things outdoors. He spends long hours researching the best equipment for every adventure. 

“Whether it’s hiking through Europe, white water rafting in the Amazon basin or lazing on a beach in Southeast Asia, having the right gear can make or break a trip. Time spent researching is time well spent!” 

Although Tim’s a big proponent of barefoot shoes, he won’t be pigeon-holed. His current shoe collection includes Supra skate shoes, Merrell walking boots, Vivobarefoot hiking shoes and of course, the obligatory classic Vans.