Take Charge

Customers like to think that they are in charge when it comes to their dining experience, but we all know better.  Or at least we should.  Since we do know better, it makes sense that we should be using that to our advantage.

What’s good here?

Recommend those dishes that you know are terrific.  You have served them hundreds of times, you have seen the looks on the faces of the customers when they put that bite in their mouth, don’t be afraid to suggest them.

And don’t stop there.  You know what wines pair well with those dishes, (or at least you should).  You know what yummy local beers you have on tap.  The point being that customers are going to look to you for your guidance–give it to them.

Beyond the food and drink recommendations you should be giving, there are many other areas in which you could enhance the guest’s experience.  Be an ambassador of your city.  Talk up those things that you love about the town you live in.

What’s fun to do around here?

Be familiar with the events that take place. The International Pinot Noir Celebration.  The brewer’s fest.  Tell them about all of the great sites to see and visit.  The Columbia gorge with its lovely waterfalls.  The Japanese garden.  The Chinese garden.  The rose garden.  All of the lovely green spaces.  The cool bridges.  Take a ride on the tram–sure it only leads up to OHSU, but the view is fantastic.

We are not used car salesmen

We are not here to gouge the customer, we are here to see that the guest has a wonderful time at our restaurant, and in our great town.  How can I get a cab?  Where is the nearest store?  Where can I buy some gas?  Is there a nearby pharmacy?  Do you know where a good hotel might be?  You should know the answers to all of these questions and more.

Some of my greatest dining experiences have been when I just left it up to the server.  Like I said earlier, they know what is good.  They know what works, and what doesn’t.

When in Rome…

One of the best meals I ever had was at this place in Rome, that unfortunately I will never remember the name of.  When we walked in, the Maitre ‘d (or whatever they call him in Italy), asked us, “Meat or Fish?”  That is all the information they needed, and then they proceeded to fill us up with the most wonderful, Bacchian experience.

So, train your servers, and them let them do their thing.  Your customers will be happy.  And then so will you be.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. david dixon says:

    Hi Tom. I sure hear your voice and passion in these posts. One of your suggestions here begs a caveat, or more illumination around the server engaging the client. Too much engagement can be a bad thing. Being prepared to engage, especially with visitors new to PDX, or in the company of an important host (can an observant waiter tell?) can be tricky and dangerous. Had a gal the other day be “too friendly” asking about water, more drinks, coffee, then dessert. Thoughts ?

  2. David says:

    It is hard to have policies that negate the need for good judgment.

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