Dumbwaiter Lifts for Restaurants

There’s not many lifts that have starred in a West End play, but the dumbwaiter did just that a few decades back.  Harold Pinter’s The Dumb Waiter has two contract killers sitting in the basement of what appears to be a deserted restaurant. After a while the apparently defunct dumbwaiter lift surges into life and starts demanding food orders. The killers panic – who’s sending the orders down, and are they authentic or are they coded requests for something else?

In reality, the restaurant dumbwaiter tends to play a less dramatic, but nonetheless integral role in the daily service. They were first used as early as the nineteenth century. These dumbwaiters operated on a pulley system, and had a speaking tube to allow for orders to be called down to kitchen. Electric motors replaced the pulleys in the 1920s but the design concept remains the same even into the 21st century.

A Dumbwaiter Lift Takes the Strain

The idea of the dumbwaiter lift has always been the same. In busy restaurants the most important thing is to get food to customers quickly and efficiently. The dumbwaiter aids this process by automating the waiter’s journey from the kitchen to front-of-house, maximising the speed at which the food arrives at the customer’s dining table.

The Dumbwaiter Increases Productivity

The very earliest advertising around the dumbwaiter listed the benefits of having a waiter who would never go off sick, drop plates, or get distracted and drop food on the floor. Dumbwaiter lifts allow real waiters to concentrate on their front-of-house role, and – especially where the kitchen is on a different floor – reduces bottlenecks and collisions during service.


Thinking of installing a dumbwaiter lift? Call the Tower Lifts design and installation team on 01525 601099 for inspiration, advice and a site survey.


Bespoke Dumbwaiter Lifts for Restaurants

The Tower Lifts design and installation team has been installing dumbwaiters in restaurants for over a decade now, and in every case we’ve been able to improve productivity, enhance Health & Safety, and boost customer service. We always start by examining the existing architecture, and observing the workflow. Then we design a dumbwaiter that takes both the architectural context, and the service requirements into account.

Two Recent Dumbwaiter Installations

We were recently asked to create two dumbwaiter lifts for San Carlo-Ciccetti, an Italian restaurant offering chic all-day dining in Covent Garden. The restaurant had a legacy dumbwaiter which was updated and customised, alongside a brand new installation. We also created a dumbwaiter for Zheng Restaurant in Chelsea, ensuring that diners anticipating their specialist Chinese-Malaysian dishes didn’t have to wait long.

Installing a Dumbwaiter Lift

If you’re a restaurant owner and you’re tempted by the thought of a dumbwaiter to enhance your service, here’s how simple it is to install one in your premises:

  • Site survey – to assess existing architecture and workflow
  • Design – providing an elegant solution within the context of your premises
  • Flexible Scheduling – we will make every effort to install with minimal disruption to service
  • Installation – normally installation will take 1-2 days
  • Handover – once installation work is complete we will handover your new dumbwaiter.

Maintenance and Service

Clients tell us that once they’ve started working with a dumbwaiter it quickly becomes the hub of operations. As such it’s crucial to the efficiency and quality of service. We always recommend taking out a customised maintenance plan. Annual maintenance checks and running repairs ensures that your dumbwaiter continues to operate at peak performance year after year.


Tower Lifts carry out design and installation on a varied range of lifts throughout the UK including:

Domestic LiftsFood LiftsBespoke Platform LiftsService LiftsPlatform LiftsGoods LiftsScenic LiftsHeavy Duty / Car LiftsPassenger LiftsDumbwaiter LiftsMRL LiftsFire liftsResidential Liftslow-Headroom Lifts