Friday, January 8, 2010


I have the utmost respect for good servers; they are the people on the front lines, subjected to cruelty that most average workers would consider criminal. They are in the direct line of fire of customers who are just having a bad day and are a bit cranky to the down right abusive and boarder-line criminal. So is born a disturbing sense of entitlement among wait staff.

THEY ASKED FOR THE JOB, NONE OF THAT SHOULD MATTER! If a server has learned their craft, nearly every negative situation can become a positive one. The notion that tables are little more than a tip (and it had better be a good one!) is preposterous. Great service or ghastly, for some reason it has become standard practice to expect a 20% tip or the GUEST is blackballed. Dollar bill signs for pupils, the “turn-n-burn” or the “are you sure you are qualified to eat here” attitudes are unacceptable. Our guests are paying for more than just a delicious meal; they are paying for great service. Our job is to put the two together to create a memorable experience AND A REGULARLY RETURNING GUEST.

So what is the problem? Are all servers just greedy little piggies? Are they pretentious? Some, maybe, but not all. Keep in mind that the server takes the heat for poorly prepared food, drink mistakes from the bar, lighting, the view outside, other guests and all kinds of complaints all the while trying to keep up with table service; their tip is in constant jeopardy. The ability to handle that type of atmosphere is not innate. The ART OF SERVICE is exactly that, an art, a finesse employed to create a sense of complete satisfaction. Paradoxically, when executed properly, the guest is not supposed to be aware of the effort. TRAINING HAS BECOME SHALLOW, TRADITIONS LOST. Reciting the menu items and memorizing their ingredients, how to up sell a starter or a bottle of wine, robotic kitchen/dining room procedures are the focus of training these days. The idea behind all this is to increase the bottom line, but will the increase last. The fine dining establishments are as close as we can get to “real” service, provided they have not been consumed by their own pretentiousness. A properly experienced Maitre d can train a wait staff, passing on the traditions of THE ART OF SERVICE and keep the craft alive.

Sustainable success is not in the up sell, it is in the REPEAT SALES. Stamina!

The trainers need training while corporations, cashing in on the industry, dispatching the true spirit of hospitality, care only about their fragile bottom line. So the next time you have a lousy server, look over his/her shoulder to the manager, and then over his shoulder to the corporate top dogs, because your server… is just the tip of the ice burg.

1 comment:

  1. If only they would listen. Why has the server of today lost so much credibility? What is it? You are a good champion of good service.
    Thank you,