You are a servant.
Merriam Webster Defines a Servant as:
: a person who is hired to do tasks or inter personal duties for others.
: a person who is devoted to or guided by something
Like it or not, Food and Beverage is a servant culture, and you just signed up.
Food and Beverage has nothing to do with your ego, your thoughts, your personal tastes, or your food aspirations. To put it bluntly, restaurants are not owned by the owners, they are owned by the patrons. We, as the owned owe our success to our ability to serve others whole heatedly without condition.
If you think I am wrong about this rather tenacious statement, take here are two very interesting points.
First, look how the 2008 recession affected the restaurant business.
Here are a few great quotes from a 2008 article in the NY Times, “Across the Country Restaurants Feel the Pinch”
Bernard Guillas, executive chef at the Marine Room Restaurant in the wealthy San Diego enclave of La Jolla, said, “You just need to be flexible and to realize that people are on more of a budget,” he said. “You have to keep up your attention to detail because a tired restaurant will drive customers away, especially now.”
Restaurants that formerly banned customers from modifying menu items are playing a bit nicer and creating specials: “Everyone is trying much harder to make sure the customers they do have are happy,” said Wes Idol, an owner of Pacific Dining Car, an 87-year-old restaurant known for its dry-aged steaks. “But there’s no doubt about it, we don’t really see daylight right now.”
The underlying theme is a removal of ego and a fundamental shift to giving guests what they want, not what we as the restaurateurs think they want. Understanding guests desires and our ability is our constant commitment as good servants. Nothing better suits this than also taking a look at how social media has impacted the restaurant business.
Go to your favorite search engine and type in, “social media effect on restaurants”. People live and die by the subjective verbatim experiences of these young socialites who have taken the time to either praise you or light you up on one of the many social media platforms. It is a growing and evolving world, in the purest form, it is our job as SERVANTS is to give the guest the best possible service experience possible.
So how do we best serve?
People come to our restaurants with a certain set of preconceived expectations that will be fundamentally different from our own. It is our job as service professionals to identify and best meet these expectations. We then do our best to mitigate the loss when we cannot meet these expectations. We may create the playing field, but the guest will always be the deciding factor of how we run our business.
Keep in mind that the guest is not always right, and can be blatantly wrong, but so much of the restaurant experience is driven by peoples “feelings” about their personal experience. Quantifying these feelings into tangible details about our own performance makes us assess ourselves in a very realistic and objective way. This honest assessment of our own performance is what makes or break our success.
“So what about celebrity chefs, or famous restaurateurs?” you may say.
Chef Grant Achatz, chef of the US’s number current number 1 restaurant “Aliena” likes to hear complaints from customers and responds. He has been known to refund meals, but most importantly states, “The more we know about who is coming into our restaurant, the better we’ll be able to fulfill our obligation to do what will make them feel happy.”
This culture of caring and service is what turns good into great. It is our job to make people happy.
The eyes of the guest are the portals to our own performance. Our desire to serve them without reservation and drive for flawless results each day is paramount to creating an enduring and long lasting business with a strong bond to our patrons, our masters.