What is a Dumb Waiter Lift? | Dumbwaiter FAQs

9 July 2019

If you want a convenient way to transport small items between floors – such as food, laundry or rubbish – a dumb waiter or service lift is probably ideal.


Dumb waiter lifts are small lifts which usually open at “serving height” (approximately hip-height) for easy hand loading between 2-6 floors.

You’ve probably seen one in a restaurant or hotel, the most common places for them.

Dumb waiter lifts are usually seen around commercial kitchens as it allows the kitchen staff and chefs, and the restaurant serving staff, to pass items between floors without dangerous or time consuming journeys up and down stairs with breakable plates and the like.

Hotels also use dumb waiter lifts for transporting items like laundry or cleaning products between floors.

Larger private homes sometimes install a dumb waiter lift too, providing convenience and a method for transporting items. House staff can also use the lift in the same way a hotel or restaurant would as well.


There are quite a few alternative names for dumb waiter lifts – the main alternatives for ‘dumb waiter’ include:

  • Service lift / elevator
  • Kitchen lift
  • Microlift (brand name)
  • Food lift / elevator

Regardless of the name, these small lifts offer great potential in hospitality, commercial businesses and even private homes.


Apart from the obvious benefit of not having to carry items on the stairs, there are lots of benefits to dumb waiter lifts. These include:

01. Reducing Costs

  • Dumb waiters are a lower initial cost than a larger lift option
  • Dumb waiters save employees time, meaning less staff can do the same work

02. Safety at Work

  • It is far safer for your staff to use a dumb waiter for anything sharp or breakable than to carry by hand. Any potential accidents are prevented.
  • Manual handling can be a serious issue. Reducing the manual handling at work is always a positive and leads to a safer environment

03. Saving Time

  • Staff can save valuable time transporting items by foot
  • A dumb waiter may even be faster than staff on foot – usually they are speed limited to around 0.35m/s – thats 21m per minute, which is pretty quick!

04. Saving Space

  • dumb waiters / service lifts are actually really small, and are usually possible to tuck into an alcove or corner.

05. Cleanliness

  • Carrying food or perishable items by hand can lead to mess or spillage, which can further cause hygiene issues. A dumb waiter eliminates this.
  • Most dumb waiters are (or have the option of) stainless steel – wipe clean and water proof for thorough cleaning.