Sunday, September 9, 2012

Service Don'ts

For one of my classes, we're reading Lessons in Service, which is a guide (of sorts) to excellent restaurant service.  The book revolves around Charlie Trotter's restaurant in Chicago.

I'm two chapters in, and the primary lessons so far are treat people like they're royalty, treat others how you want to be treated, and in the restaurant world, sweat the small stuff.

I'm surprised at how easily the students spit these words out to the instructor, but I wonder if they even know what they're saying.  Honestly, how can I treat my customers like royalty if I really don't know what royalty is treated like?  Also, it's hard to visualize how to treat others based on how I want to be treated...everyone has different thresholds for that.  Personally, I don't want someone being rude to me, but I don't think that necessarily translates into good service.  There's something about servers anticipating my needs and wants, and getting me to have a good time.

This is a question I will continue to ponder, but in the meantime, let me begin to elaborate on what good service isn't.  It's really very interesting...I've been in culinary school a whole two weeks, and already I'm starting to pick up on so many things in the industry I've never noticed before.

On Friday, we ate lunch at a P.F. Chang's.  The hostess was a nice-looking young lady, but she didn't smile when we came in.  She seemed indifferent, bothered maybe, to the fact that we were there.  She then darted off without telling us where she was going, and did not come back for three or four minutes (to put together a table for our party of five, I presume).  We were brought menus, drink orders were taken, as was an appetizer.  Then we were informed that our server would be with us shortly (so...this person wasn't our server??).

We waited five, maybe ten, minutes before we were helped again.  Our appetizer had arrived and we were halfway through it before anyone came back...and it actually was the gal who'd taken our drink and appetizer order (you know, our non-server server).  She took our order, and that was then the last we'd seen of her.  We were waited on for the rest of the meal by a man...I guess the guy who was supposed to be our original server?

The food was good.  The ambiance was nice.  The service?  Meh.  I'm not really in a rush to eat there again.  It would have been great to be more warmly welcomed into the restaurant, and it would have great to have been served in a timely and more efficient manner.

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