Best Server Shoes Reviewed & Rated for Comfort
Few jobs can take their toll on the entire body as heavily as serving does. With long hours of standing and walking, dependability and comfort are absolute top priorities. Little to no rest during the workday means that working in the restaurant industry requires premium stability and ease of movement; seeing that even the slightest discomfort can turn into a horrible nightmare. This is why choosing the right pair of shoes should be a top priority for anyone who works as a server.
- Merrell Jungle Moc
- Leather or Suede Upper
- Non Slip Outsole
- Dr. Martens Orson
- Air Cushioned Sole
- Moisture Wicking Lining
- Crocs Bistro
- Ankle Strap
- Roomy Toe Box
The best shoes for people with jobs that require a lot of standing and walking are, first of all, comfortable. That means choosing the right fit for your foot type, but also taking into account any special features that a shoe might offer, such as arch-supporting or memory foam insoles, moisture-wicking inner lining, or being made from a stronger upper sole which will come in handy with the inevitable occasional spill. Another key feature is the grip of the shoe which should be strong, and offer you the security of not slipping on greasy, wet, and highly polished floors when you’re carrying numerous plates and dishes. Finally, It is also important to take aesthetics into consideration, seeing that while some workplaces are more relaxed and casual, others require you to look your absolute best and to reflect the establishment’s own look.
Having looked at over hundreds of models of shoes that were made for, or are regularly worn by, professionals in the serving industry, this list of the top ten best server shoes will help you choose your next pair of work footwear.
10 Best Server Shoes
1. Merrell Jungle Moc
The Merrell Jungle Moc was made to last with some hardcore fans reporting to having worn them for years without any change in shape. The upper comes in a variety of materials such as leather and suede, while the sole is made from rubber, with a compression molded EVA foot frame that provides cushioning for comfort.
Originally intended as an outdoor shoe, the Jungle Moc gives you the secure grip of its 3mm lug depth that will keep your feet firmly on the ground during your working hours, as well as when you’re out trekking in the woods.
Cost and Value
At their price, these shoes could prove to be one of your best investments. Mid-range cost wise, but with excellent performance, they could see you through a lengthy period of time. And best of all, they don’t require a lot of maintenance, just slip them on and you’re ready to go.
- EVA Cushioning
- Plenty of Toe Space
- 3mm Traction Lugs
- Leather or Suede Upper
- Breathable Mesh Lining
- Very Squeaky
2. Dr. Martens Orson
There are several things that set the Orson apart from similar styles. First and foremost, it’s a shoe with a moisture wicking mesh lining, something that you don’t see very often in leather loafers, and the two elastic gussets on the top eliminate the time needed to tie laces, but still allow a comfortably snug fit.
Oiled Leather Upper
A good upper can mean several things when it comes to work performance. Ideally, you will want a shoe that’ll look professional, that’ll be easy to clean and care for, that’ll protect you from accidental spills, and that will conform to your foot the more you wear it.
Cost and Value
The Dr. Martens Orson is not exactly a cheap pair of footwear, but that’s to be expected from this brand. If you decide to go with this slip on, you’ll be getting a professional looking work shoe that’s abrasion and slip resistant, that allows a good amount of air flow to keep your feet dry and cool, and can be expected to last for a longer time than cheaper versions.
Oiled Leather Upper
Slip and Abrasion Resistant Outsole
Moisture Wicking Lining
Cushioned EVA Sockliner
Sole Cracks After 5-6 Months
Lengthy Break In Period
3. Crocs Bistro
Like any other pair of Crocs, these shoes are as comfy as they can get. They’ve got adiPRENE+ inserts which provide cushioning, as well as a massaging footbed that will get you through the day. They are contoured for maximum comfort and are a good fit for almost anyone out there.
These shoes can take you a long way. Even if you’re working double shifts, they’re pretty difficult to ruin. Being synthetic means that they are resistant to almost all spills, while the material itself is durable and flexible enough not to break with use.
Cost and Value
These are the cheapest shoes on this list, yet they provide great comfort and safety, which definitely means you should consider them. Unless, of course, your workplace is not completely casual - in that case, pass them by.
- Slip Resistant
- Flexible Synthetic Upper
- Easy to Clean
- Massaging Footbed
- Roomy Toe Box
- Unsuitable for Some Environments
- Lacks Breathability
4. KEEN PTC Slip-On II
Because you’re spending huge amounts of time standing and walking, often on hard surfaces, you need a pair of shoes that can cushion your steps, absorb an excess shock, and support your arch so it doesn’t have to work overtime. The removable insole in the PTC Slip-On II is made with a combination of PU, cork and memory foam, and will perfectly mold to your feet, giving you a customized level of comfort.
Water and Stain Resistant Upper
The black leather upper of this shoe is not only professional looking and easy to clean, it’s also water and stain resistant, which makes it the perfect choice for waiters, bartenders, and even kitchen staff. Additionally, it’s got a slip resistant outsole as well, so you can tread with confidence that you won’t slip and fall while on the job.
Cost and Value
Being the second most expensive item on this list, the KEEN PTC Slip-On II may be a bit too much if you’re on a budget. Nonetheless, if you can afford to splurge on something of a higher quality, then it’s definitely a shoe that will pay off in terms of security and comfort, which are quite important when you’re spending up to 12 hours on your feet on a daily basis.
Water and Stain Resistant
Removable KEEN.CUSH Insole
Lightweight at 15 oz
Lasts About 6 Months
5. Thorogood Classic Poromeric
The removable footbed on the Classic Poromeric is made with shock absorbing materials in order to provide you with the cushioning you require throughout the day. Additionally, it’s treated with antibacterial and anti-odor treatments which ensures that your feet stay fresh for longer, wicking moisture away from the foot, and helping it stay healthy.
Vibram EVA Outsole
Made with Goodyear welt construction, the Classic Poromeric features a slip resistant Vibram EVA outsole with heavy lugs that’ll keep you on your feet no matter the surface underfoot. Whether you have to walk on hardwood, tile, marble, or even concrete, this material will wear evenly, preventing you from losing your footing while doing your job.
Cost and Value
For a shoe made in the USA, the Thorogood Classic Poromeric comes at a surprisingly low price. It ranks average on this list in terms of cost, and provides high value for anyone who needs a polished pair of footwear that is also comfortable and has the necessary safety features.
High Shine Upper
Shock Absorbing Cushioning
Slip Resistant Vibram Outsole
6. Timberland PRO Powertrain
The best thing about this pair of sneakers is the unique anti-fatigue technology which was developed so as to absorb shock and return this energy through multiple inverted cones to different points of the foot.
Reduced Break-In Time
No need for long periods of breaking in your shoes in order to be able to spend a whole day in them. These sneakers are good to go from the box as they are made with a flexible cement construction, and as most users point out, they’ll provide great arch support and are comfortable enough to wear all day.
Cost and Value
These shoes rank high when it comes to cost. While they may not be the most expensive on this list, they are up there. However, they do provide that tested Timberland quality that a lot of users appreciate and turn to.
- Antimicrobial Mesh Lining
- Great Arch Support
- Breathable Upper
- Flexible Outsole
- Static Dissipative
- Not Ideal for Kitchen Work
- Runs Narrow
7. Skechers Rockland Systemic
The Rockland Systemic has some very nifty features when it comes to making you comfortable throughout the day. These include a padded collar and tongue, a removable cushioned comfort insole and a shock absorbing midsole.
The fact that these shoes have cleats not only makes them great for working in restaurants, but Skechers have taken it a step further. The shoes were tested using ASTM F1677-96 Mark II standards which specifically take into consideration wet and oily conditions.
Cost and Value
With a price that is more affordable than the majority of other shoes meeting these standards, the Rockland Systemic work shoe is a steal by all standards. They will give you all the necessary features to keep you safe during your working hours, while still allowing you to look dapper without breaking the bank.
- Non Slip Outsole
- Suitable for Wide Feet
- Padded Collar and Tongue
- Removable Insole
- Shock Absorbing Midsole
- Requires Breaking In
- Flat Front
8. New Balance 626v2
New Balance may have become popular for lifestyle footwear in the past decade, but it’s important to remember the company’s roots in running footwear, at which the still excell. The 626v2 features an ABZORB crash pad in the heel which will prevent the shock of landing impact travel up your legs, resulting in less fatigue and pain, even after hours of working.
Oil and Slip Resistant
Going in and out of the kitchen, you’re bound to encounter some wet or oily surfaces, so a good outsole is crucial in keeping you safe. The 626v2 has been tested according to the highest standards, and will provide resistance to both oily surfaces, as well as to slipping, thanks to the rubber outsole with its grippy lugs.
Cost and Value
With an average price, the New Balance 626v2 is definitely a top choice for anyone working as a waiter or bartender, who needs to look sharp, but still requires comfort features that many other footwear options simply don’t provide. An added bonus of this model is the stability shank in the sole that aligns the feet properly (preventing overpronation), and is even eligible for Medicare reimbursement.
ABZORB Heel Crash Pad
Internal Stability Shank
Oil and Slip Resistant
May Be Eligible for Medicare Reimbursement
Uncomfortable Seam In Toe Box
9. Dansko Professional
The outsole on the Dansko Professional is made with PU, a synthetic material that won’t allow you to slip. It’s quite chunky, meaning stable, and has a raised toe that promotes a rocking motion while walking. The effect this creates is excellent power transfer and energy return that allows you to walk with more ease, propelling you forward. That means that even if you’re tired, your shoes will be there to help you along.
Memory Foam Footbed
The footbed in these clogs is made out of memory foam that’ll cushion and mold to your feet, never losing its softness. Additionally, you’ll be happy to hear that the instep is padded to minimize rubbing you would otherwise feel on the top of your foot, while the roomy toe box allows for some wiggle room, and for your toes to splay naturally, allowing you to walk more easily, and to maintain better balance.
Cost and Value
With a high cost associated with these shoes, you may have to think twice about the investment. However, if you’re looking for something truly amazing, then these are at least worth a try. For the money spent, you’ll be getting a full grain leather upper, some excellent stabilizing features, a cushioned and supportive footbed, and, most importantly, a pair of shoes that’ll last for a long time.
Full Grain Leather Upper
Roomy Toe Box
Memory Foam Footbed
10. Skechers Ghenter Bronaugh
No matter who you serve you know better than anyone how much spillage happens wherever food and drink are involved. For that reason, a water-repellent shoe is a must and these shoes are water repellent. The upper is still breathable though, so your feet will stay dry inside as well.
When the spillage happens, you’ll be glad you’re in a shoe with good traction. The rubber sole on this shoe will hold on tile, wood and most other surfaces preventing you from having a slip and fall injury.
Cost and Value
These shoes are priced in the low-range. They are a very good value for servers who are on their feet all day and want a shoe that is protective and water repellent. Breathable and dry inside only adds to their comfort and the rubber sole will make them safe and durable.
- Breathable Mesh Upper
- Rubber Outsole/li>
- Air Cooled Memory Foam
- Water Repellent
- Casual But Comfortable
- Lacks Cushioning
So that’s it – the list of the top 10 models you should consider when buying your next pair of work shoes. You can make your choice based on design, extra features or price, but the most important aspects such as stability, grip and comfort have all been taken into account. Take into consideration your workplace, your personal preferences and requirements as well as the pros and cons listed for all models, and you’ll definitely end up with an awesome choice. After all, by now you should be an expert on all things server shoe related, and there’s no doubt you will make the right choice during your next purchase.
Criteria for Evaluating the Best Server Shoes
Any job you do will require some essential tools that you absolutely have to have in order to be able to perform well. For surgeons it’s going to be operating instruments, for designers it’s reliable high-quality tech, and for servers, it’s usually a pen, paper, and a good pair of shoes. And although the first two are optional based on your experience and preferences, you simply cannot do without the shoes. So what exactly does “a good pair of shoes” mean for waiters?
Anyone who has ever worked as a waiter knows that one of the worst things that can happen on the job is slipping and dropping the trays you’re carrying. Not only because this will cause you to spill and break whatever it is you were carrying, but more so because falling in a pile of hot liquids or broken glass is a huge hazard both for you as well as the guests who happen to be around you. Not to mention the possible sprains and broken bones that inevitably come with falls, and the recovery time which may make you unable to work, and thus earn your living, for a considerable amount of time.
Another factor that heightens the possibility of this happening is the fact that bars and kitchens come with inevitable spills, meaning that you will be making your way through wet and oily surfaces, at a fast pace, while balancing numerous items in your arms which means that your own balance may be compromised in the first place.
This means that the shoes you choose for your job must, under no circumstances, be the kind that will slip out from under you, but instead, they should provide you with traction that will allow you to have strong footing wherever you go. The best way to ensure this is to look at the outer sole of the shoe. It should usually be made out of rubber, with grooves or cleats that are specifically designed to prevent you from slipping on various surfaces.
Look for shoes that are marked as non-slip, and make sure to check whether this had been tested. Most companies who make footwear for professional users test their products according to the highest standards, so a non-slip certificate is the best way to know the shoes really are grippy enough to get you through your day.
Furthermore, some companies will include the type of surfaces the shoes were made for and environments in which their non-slip qualities apply. These can include wet patches or surfaces which have been soiled with either vegetable oil or animal fats. Note that not all shoes will perform the same on these types of stains, so make sure you know exactly what you need before you start shopping.
Whether you’re working part-time or double shifts does not matter, because the second most important thing about a pair of shoes you choose to work in as a server is comfort. Just think about walking for 30 minutes in an ill-fitting or uncomfortable pair of shoes and you’ll get the picture. In order to be able to get through a working day during which you are required to stand and walk for prolonged periods of time, you need to make sure your shoes fit you to a tee.
There are a lot of factors that will influence the level of comfort a pair of shoes will provide you, and these will differ from person to person based on:
- Foot type
- Overall build
- Way of walking
- Foot ailments
The first factor you need to take into consideration is the size and shape of your chosen shoe. If you have a very wide foot, you may need to look into makers that provide that necessary width, or ones that make their shoes in a relaxed fit. On the other hand, if your feet are quite narrow, you will do better to stay away from shoes in which your feet have too much wiggle space, as this can lead to painful blisters. This means that your feet should not feel constrained at any point, but should not be sliding back and forth in your shoes either.
Another thing to look at is the soles of your shoes. All shoes have outer soles which we already covered in the previous section – for maximum comfort look for ones that are not too stiff and that will allow your foot to move with ease. The midsole is where your comfort starts. Most makers today have options such as shock absorption, or anti-pronation midsoles, but what you want to be looking at is the material your midsole is made from. Some sports shoes will have gel midsoles, but the most common materials used are polyurethane (PU) or Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA). EVA is a great choice as it is lightweight and provides optimal padding, but it also wears down more easily. Compression molded EVA will last longer, so you can look for that in your pair of shoes. PU, on the other hand, offers much less padding which may not be ideal for a shoe if you are looking for comfort. Another thing to note is that if you intend to use your own insoles, choose a pair of shoes with a neutral midsole, without any reinforcements.
Finally, you want your insoles to be awesome. Again, what suits one person may not be good for another, but new technologies are allowing for more and more comfortable fits with memory foam, posture correcting or anatomical insoles that can make your shoes your best work buddy.
Other things that you should consider are lining materials, because, ideally, your shoes should be able to breathe which is important for hygiene and controlling odors after long hours of use. Most shoes today will have mesh or microfiber lining, but you can also go with more traditional leather-lined shoes, just remember, leather linings will breathe better, but they add some weight which may not be ideal. You should avoid synthetic lining which does not absorb moisture and locks in dampness, which can end up in odor and other hygiene issues.
The materials used for the upper of your shoes are also crucial, seeing that these will determine how your shoes will behave in different situations. When working in a kitchen environment, you will want something a bit more sturdy that will stand up to liquids, but also that will offer enough protection in case of a more serious mishap. The main reason to look for such materials is the fact that you need your shoes to be waterproof enough so you don’t end up working with wet socks and feet for a prolonged period of time.
Leather is one of the best choices, seeing that it offers both breathability and some level of protection, but some people prefer rubber or synthetic materials which will do better in wet situations. If your job does not involve going in the kitchen or behind a bar, you can choose more lightweight materials such as mesh or canvas which are lighter and more breathable, but make sure to choose quality footwear, preferably not made out of synthetic materials, in order to maintain hygiene and remain odor free.
Another very important aspect that should be taken into consideration when choosing a shoe is the maintenance that is required to keep the shoe looking presentable. Now, this is something that may not apply to all workplaces, and some will be more lenient than others, but as someone who is a server, you should represent your workplace in the best light possible. The easiest option is to go with a no-fuss rubber shoe which can easily be wiped down when needed. Clogs made for the medical profession, some of which are listed in this article are also excellent options because they were designed so as not to require too much care in order to stay pristine clean.
Leather shoes would come in second place regarding this criterion, seeing that they will not stain that easily (especially polished leather), but they do require maintenance once in a while. If you go with leather, you need to make sure you have the correct cleaners and conditioners, while it’s also a good idea to invest in some type of water repellent spray which should help them stay good looking for a longer time.
Finally, you can also go with canvas and mesh but take into consideration that once these get really dirty, you will be in for a lot of work. As putting your pair of shoes in the washing machine may not be an option, seeing that a large number of shoes are not machine washable and you do not want to be left without any footwear – the cleaning process can be a bit more tedious when you have to do everything by hand, but make sure to read up all about it. Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, it will come as second nature, just as long as you don’t let dirt accumulate and clean your footwear every once in a while.
Last but not least, we evaluated the shoes based on how they look. While fit, comfort, and safety are imperative, chances are you already have a dress code you have to stick to. Some establishments will be super easy-going and you will be able to get away with any type of footwear. If this is the case, choose the most comfortable pair, and you’ll be a happy camper. If, however, you work at a fancier type of restaurant, you will need to look semi-formal or formal, which means that sneakers or Crocs are not an option. This is why one of the criteria we took into consideration was the design of the shoes.
With clogs, you can go two ways. One is the rubber, homey type of look which is easy to maintain and super comfy, but chances are, your boss will not be impressed by these. That’s why we would suggest seriously considering the models by Dansko and Alegria which do great at combining comfort with a stylish look that can compliment almost any outfit. Sneakers, unfortunately, will not be good at this. You can wear them in more relaxed work environments, but do not turn to these if you are supposed to be wearing a suit or slacks. It will just look off. Our favorite models are the ones that are slightly dressy because these will take you from a hip coffeehouse to a fancy restaurant, and you’ll be able to avoid looking out of place in either.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How do I ensure a proper fit?
A: Make sure you have looked at the sizing chart. Always choose shoes that are made for your foot type. If you have wide feet, do not opt for shoes that were made for narrow feet. Other things to take into account are arch height, shoe profile, as well as sole types as some shoes, are made with reinforcements which prevent pronation (and you might not need such a feature).
Q: Should I buy my own insoles or just use the ones that come with the shoe?
A: If you have any known problems with your feet, then the answer is yes. If this is the case, make sure you choose a pair of shoes that have removable insoles, as custom insoles should be worn on their own. Also make sure that your shoes do not have any anatomical features in the midsole, as these can clash with your custom insoles. If, however, you are someone who needs standard support and has no medical issues, you will be fine with the insoles provided in any of the shoes on this list.
Q: I’m not sure how much grip I need in my shoes.
A: If you’re planning on working as a server, you need to go with maximum stability. Make sure to always, we cannot stress this enough, choose non-slip shoes, as you are bound to come across at least some wet patches. If you’re working at a bar, you might not need your shoes to be grippy on oily surfaces, but it’s a good idea to have this feature. Better safe than sorry. Plus, non-slip soles will not drive up the price of your shoes that much, so if there is one feature you need to choose from, this should be it.
Q: Should I get water-resistant shoes?
A: A shoe that will allow you not to get wet during your shift is a good choice. Not only can staying dry prevent issues such as fungus, it’s also important to think about your comfort – you can’t absolutely be happy and focused on your work if you’re walking around with wet socks and feet.
Q: How long will my shoes last?
A: The life-span of your shoes will depend on two factors. The first one is the quality of materials used to make the shoe. Usually, this is reflected in the price, but that doesn’t always have to be the case. The second factor is the use your shoes will get. If you know you’ll be working double shifts six days a week, do not go with the cheapest shoes unless you are ready to replace them every couple of months. Instead, opt for something more durable, preferably with replaceable insoles, so you can stretch the life of your shoe as long as possible. And one more thing, a shoe that is well taken care of is a happy shoe, and will generally last you longer.
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