Not often, but occasionally I am accused of coming across a bit cynical, maybe a little too negative. I am not here to argue that point, but rather to combat that idea by putting out a more positively-toned post. Don’t get used to it. I don’t mean to point out only the faults of Portland service, there just happens to be a lot more of them than the positive.
I like the fact that this blog is not a place for local gossip–who is the new chef where, what new place is opening up, etc., and although I feel there is definitely a place for that, I like that this is not that place. However, once in a while, I wish I could put a shout out to restaurants who are doing their best to provide good food and service, because it does happen.
I dined out recently with my lovely daughter, (who I am afraid I have spoiled a bit in the dining out category but she makes up for it every where else), where we had a wonderful experience.
A good manager
The main takeaway at this restaurant was the effectiveness of the manager. What a difference a good manager can make. If only I was half that capable when I managed places. I thoroughly enjoyed watching him bop around the restaurant, never sitting still for a moment. When there was a crowd at the door, he was there to help the hostess. After everyone was seated and the waiters were slammed, he jumped from station to station to make sure they all got caught up. I watched as he even checked back in the kitchen to make sure everything was all right there.
With a smile
On top of everything else, he did it with a smile. It’s amazing how infectious a smile can be to the workers down in the trenches. It really sets the tone for everyone. I have told my students often, managers need to be on the floor, not in the office, and they also don’t have the luxury of showing negative emotion. It does no good and only makes them look bad.
I worked for a great manager once, who was often there to assist when needed and always stayed pretty even-keel. (I found out later that he would express his frustrations out of sight of his employees by throwing and smashing eggs at the dumpster out back–whatever it takes, I guess).
Going that extra mile
When we were finished my daughter wanted to take the rest of her salad home. Both the manager and I explained that it would be pretty wilted the next day. She didn’t care and wanted it anyway. When she opened it for lunch the next day at school she discovered that he had put some fresh greens in there and some dressing on the side. Now that is going the extra mile!
I have talked before of the importance of thanking the kitchen, but this time I actually went back a couple of days later to tell the owner what a great job the manager is doing. See, I have some good traits, too. Maybe one.