The Service BLOG

SERVICE POINT: INFORMATION IS KEY. WRITE, SHARE, USE.

Entire civilizations have been lost because people didn’t write down their thoughts, ideas, and ways of doing things.  A restaurant or any kind of enterprises cannot operate, nor should you, without sharing information. 

Menu notes

Every item on a menu can be broken down. This will make it easier to remember and to speed service. If management is not doing it already DO IT FOR YOURSELF. Keep a binder or notebook with ALL the menu items. A computer  spreadsheet is handy for this (Google docs FTW!).

Make notes of all the components of the items on the menu. Everything: 

Oil used in the fryerWeight of the protein ALLERGENS
Sauces usedVegetablesStarch/carbs
Can it be modified?Spice levelSpices used
SeasoningDone how? R,MR,M,W etcCooking technique(s)
Temperature (hot/cold/room)Hot line or cold side?Time to prepare/ETA

This way you will be able to answer ANY questions a client may have. 

This is also why daily briefings with the kitchen are so important. 

For years I took  my notes from the menu, in the same order as they appeared on the menu. Breaking down the menu items as they were written, and adding along the extras above mentioned.
This way I could note the item, its ingredients, and possible changes as I explained the menu to a guest. Writing it out also helps to remember.

For example:

Menu Reads:Roast chicken with potatoes and jus
My notes:Roast chicken (½) (free range, marinade of lemon and evoo, rosemary) (butter basted), potatoes (yukon gold, dairy-butter, cream, chives, garlic, onion) jus (reduction of juices, wheat flour, red wine) NO VEG.Most wine will work.30 mins.

PRE-SERVICE

Write down the specials, the notes about the menu changes and all other relevant info and have it all in one single place for other co-workers (or kitchen staff) to check. That way when you forget or someone (staff or guests) has a question, you can consult the notes and avoid unnecessary chatter in the middle of a Saturday night at 8 pm (and plates thrown at you for asking silly questions). That way you also avoid the dreaded “I didn’t hear that”; “‘he said / she said” situation.

FEED THE CHILDREN

Paying attention to children can pay back far more than you think. 

Whether it’s a family complete with kids, or a mother eating alone. Get this kid some food right away. Suggest what’s the fastest option on the menu and get it ordered before you even bring drinks. Kids these days have the attention span of ferrets so they will get angry a lot sooner than you think. And they may get bitey too, for all I know. 

Bottom line: get them something to eat fast, and a coloring book if you have it (which, of course, you do), and they are happy campers. 

HANDLING STRATEGIES OF KIDS BY AGE

Infants:Try to seat them in a quiet spot if sleeping. offer a more private table if they seem the loud and squirmy type (i.e. under 6 months old or so). 
Younger kids (under 3) Can be amused for hours with a crumpled sheet of paper. Really, I’ve done it.  Make them a hat out of a napkin, that’s always fun too. Crayons are good, but check with parental units. Like waiters, they love bread too. Magic tricks are always good. 
Older kids (4+)  Same thing, get their order first, fire out, then order the adult fare. Coloring books are great, older kids may want to get a tour of the kitchen (depending on timing, your chef, and insurance regulations). Magic tricks +++
Young teens (11+)Hope the parents did a good enough job to tame them. Usually will eat with the adults. May have weird food fixations or themes.
TeensAbandon all hope. But seriously, offer them the wi-fi password and hope for the best. Do treat them like adults that can’t drink for having a DUI. And feed them fast AND large!

For the adults:

Suggest the adults dishes that are faster and easier to eat. Unless they are eating with older children, the last thing they wanna do is have to wrestle with complicated food and wrappers on one hand and a screaming child on the other. 

Also, get the check while they are still eating. Be ready to drop at moment’s notice. 

Do all of the above and be a hero to the parents. Showers of money should follow.



CHARM SCHOOL

Classic lines that charm.

Every waiter and bartender should have a repertoire of classic, snappy, and witty lines that charm. It’s basic wisdom for those who  interact with people everyday. Why are they important? Because they make people smile, feel special, and maybe even chuckle a little. It means that someone cares. At least in North America it seems to have become a standard and expected part of the kayfabe of most interaction in restaurants and bars. 

Tame the caveman instincts that people have and you will have much more rewarding social interactions.. By this I mean that people, instinctively and unknowingly, may react against certain behaviors and gestures, like proximity of someone unknown, removal of food, casual physical touch or eye contact  and other situations  that may put people on edge or make them uneasy or uncomfortable. This is very culturally determined. That is why charm comes very handy.

I suggest having lines for all of the occasions I have mentioned, from the greet to the farewell. Ask old timers, or pay attention next time you go out.

Ideally you will develop your standard lines, like every comedian. What matters is that your lines make sense coming from you and that they are appropriate to where you work. They can’t come as too stiff or canned, they should be honest reflections of your personality. So if you are chirpy, be yourself. Just say something that matches you and the kayfabe of the place.

Think about them as something nice you would want to say to someone you know, like an older uncle or grandparent.

Puns are great —though people will groan, I don’t know why! White jokes are good. Avoid any blue humor or toilet jokes…. Unless it’s that kind of a place. 

Dad jokes are my bread and butter. Pun intended. 

Like every good comedian knows: ALWAYS TRY NEW MATERIAL FIRST WITH COWORKERS, AMIABLE GUESTS, FRIENDS AND FAMILY. Not on a Saturday night with a grumpy couple.  

Some favorite lines:

(During greeting)

“Smoking or non smoking?” (this is great for older guests, nobody smokes indoors anymore)

“Good evening and welcome, I’ll be your tour guide here”

“I’m your personal concierge”

“Let me give you quickly the highlights”

“Good evening, looks like you found your way to the thunderdome! . . . Oh, wait, that’s tomorrow. . . Welcome in any case!”

“Good morning, can I offer you an eye opener? Coffee, espresso?. . . shot of Tequila?” (great at brunch)

“Anything to drink, perhaps a pint of gin? It’s not only for breakfast anymore you know?”

“Welcome to Willy Wonkas’ factory!” (kids might love this one, also sets the hint & tone that bad behavior is not tolerated here)

“Good morning, let’s get you a coffee or 5 to get your day started?” (great for brunch)

“This on the left, that on the right, and I’m here for whatever you need”

(While taking the order)

“No problem,we are here to make you happy”

“You’ve got it!”

“Right away boss” (careful here)

“On the double”

“I’m happy to help”

“That’s what we are here for”

“For sure!”

“I’m all ears”

“Yes sir / ma’am / miss” (can’t go wrong being too polite, don’t be sarcastic about it though. Especially with older crowd)

(during delivery)

“How fancy/elegant, eh?” (For something with great presentation)

“I’ll bring you a spoon, it’s better than a fork for soup” (or a variation as you put down the spoon)

“If you need anything please let me know”

“Bon appetit / buen provecho / itadakimasu etc.”

“Here you go boss”

“If you need anything, don’t hesitate, any of us would be happy to help”

Wine:

“Delicious, wet, and fits in every glass. Can’t go wrong!”

“Liquid sunshine”

“Just to be social”

“What you need. But not too much”

“Enhances the pleasure of living” 

“Better than water, for sure!”

“It evaporates on its own! amazing!” (as you top up someone)

“Makes everything better!”

Lines about Food:

(when asked about a particular item) “It’s Terrible, but very popular!” (careful with this one)

“So good you’ll tell your children / grandchildren about it”

“Hang onto your socks, this is stellar”

“Wildly delicious, one of our best sellers” (this is classic, influence by popularity)

“It’s pretty silly”

Desserts:

“Sharing is caring”

“It’s small but fantastic”

”Let’s have a little indulgence”

”So small it hardly counts”

”Its gluten free / organic chocolate”

Bill time

“The house is generous and will only charge you for what you had”

“Thank you, and I’ll be here all week!”

(Things along those lines)