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Restaurant Report E-mail Newsletter
For Hospitality Professionals and Food Connoisseurs
Issue #43 January 4, 1999
(This publication may be freely redistributed in its entirety)
In This Issue
* Feature Article
* Links of Interest
* Reader Feedback
* Internet Tip
* Bulletin Board
Winning Service Strategies
By Ronald Moeller, Hospitality Consultant
With the coming of the New Year -- a year expected to be busier than
usual as we approach the new millennium, it is a good time to be
resolute in evaluating and reviewing some of the more obvious aspects
of good restaurant service. Following are these points that, while
seemingly obvious, sometimes get lost -- especially in the bustle of
A. Prepare Ahead of Time
1. Know your products. Understand all menu items and daily specials
including related language/pronunciation. Familiarize ALL staff with
these items by regular tastings in the kitchen and brief meetings with
the chef, as necessary.
2. Appearance matters. Make sure that your clothing/uniform is
washed and ironed and put out the night before. A wrinkled shirt may
be perceived by the guest as an anticipated "wrinkle" in the dining
experience. Stay light on personal fragrances: no one wants to be
served "Estee Lauder Alfredo".
3. "Psych" yourself. Be positive and remember that, "We always get
what we expect."
B. Warm and Caring Service
1. Establish eye contact and smile, smile, smile. Prepare technical
details of your job in advance so you can focus your eyes on your
2. Think funny/happy thoughts to smile naturally and practice in
front of a mirror if necessary. If you want to be a "star" on the
floor, unless you are a natural--you have to practice like one.
C. Be Your Customer's Advocate
1. Certainly follow the rules but, when in doubt, always think of
your customers needs first.
2. Always try to accommodate customers special requests with an
attitude of "We can do anything for you (within reason)".
D. Schmooze and You Won't Lose
1. When customers arrive, offer to take their coats and deliver
coat-check receipts to the host of your party;
2. Pay CLOSE attention so that you can anticipate your customers next
need and/or request paying special attention to the host of your party
and addressing s/he by his/her sir name to demonstrate your respect
and validate their importance.
3. A good Maitre 'd and/or Executive Chef always make a point to stop
at each table briefly (at an appropriate time--between courses etc.)
to check on guest satisfaction.
E. Problem Solving
1. Replace all "I dunno's" with "I will check on that for you
immediately". Summon your Maitre 'd for more complex problems.
2. Always offer alternatives including choice of seating, if
available. If a menu item has been 86'd--offer a related selection
INCLUDING a detailed description.
3. Seek aid from your co-workers if you are buried. Do not attempt to
do everything yourself or you will not only sacrifice your party's
dining experience, but also the restaurant's reputation.
F. Demonstrate Sincere Pride
1. It's not only your restaurant and your station, it also reflects
YOU. Whether you are handling a small party, several tables or a
banquet, make sure that your area is clean before, during and after
your shift. No matter what kind of cleaning service the owner
employs, there are bound to be spills, crumbs etc. that are simple and
easy to clean up quickly and unobtrusively. (Clean rest rooms are also
very important. Surveys demonstrate that female patrons often judge a
restaurant by the cleanliness of its rest rooms.)
2. Show enthusiasm. Take the proper time to SELL your items with
adequate use of descriptions. Do not assume that patrons are familiar
with your menu just because you are. Focus on your operations unique
preparation and ingredients. If you are unsure, ASK. I never met a
chef who didn't want to discuss his "signature" preparation techniques
with interested staff members.
3. Pacing the meal carefully is far more important to your current
customer than when your next order is up. When delivering the entree,
"delivery technique" is also important. You are presenting "culinary
artwork". Precious artwork would not be tossed carelessly on the
table. It would, instead, be placed before your customer with pride.
4. Suggesting appetizers, espresso/cappuccino and special desserts do
not only add tips to your wallet, they also add to your customers
dining experience. Having a good understanding of what items to
suggest and pair with an entree complements the entire meal like a
good Cabernet does with Filet Mignon.
G. Ensuring Guests Return
1. Establish a successful rapport. Monitoring your guests actions
and reactions is critical throughout the course of the meal. Wait
staff who possess a high level of intuition and healthy self-esteem
are able to connect with their guests effectively and understand the
pride and joy of serving others. Most importantly, it shows.
2. Always handle customer gripes quickly and effectively. The
restaurant and YOU will be judged on the length of time it took you to
resolve the perceived problem, your manners, and how you equitably
remedied it with a solution. More important than in any other
industry, in food service--the customer is ALWAYS right. No matter
what happens, stay composed: Think, communicate and THEN react.
3. Extend SINCERE thanks and ask for the customers return: "I very
much enjoyed serving you this evening and hope that I see you again
soon." Personal thanks, handwritten on checks, are also appreciated.
Ronald Moeller is a hospitality consultant with Maren Incorporated.
Mr. Moeller has over 10 years wait staff training and management
experience in the Hospitality Industry. He can be contacted at
(412) 833-4639/(412) 885-8280 or by E-mail at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let's talk about the elements (secrets) of running a successful
restaurant. Share your comments, thoughts, and stories with our
readers. Write to: email@example.com
Links of Interest
Best of 1998 Nightclub & Bar Reviews
Learn what some of the best restaurants, nightclubs and bars are doing
to stay ahead of the pack. (Learn well enough and maybe you'll be on
this list next year!)
A look back at some of memorable food, news and people that helped
transform the industry in 1998.
A Special Report identifying the fastest-growing brands of wine, beer
and spirits in the beverage alcohol industry.
Wine-osaur Provides Help For Grape Pickings
A nice article on selecting affordable wines -- featuring picks from
the Restaurant Report's very own Phillip Silverstone.
Alta Vista Language Translator -- Great for international readers
Just in case you didn't think technology was fascinating -- here's a
link that I believe shows otherwise. Type in a message or the address
of any web page and you'll get a real time translation. No, it's not
perfect -- but the results are quite good for a 5 second job!
**What's New At the Restaurant Report On-line:
The Changing Face Of The Top Shelf
Barbara Ann Rosenberg takes a look at the trendy "drinking less but
drinking better" phenomenon. Whether it's Vodka, Bourbon, Single Malt
Scotch, or Cognac, restaurant and bar patrons are requesting their
favorite brands - and they're getting even more elitist as new styles
of distillation and marketing keep showing up.
An Interview with Bernard Hine
More Top Shelf Talk -- Phillip Silverstone chats with Bernard Hine of
the cognac firm, Cognac Hine.
Are you looking for more links like this? Visit the Restaurant Report
E-mail Newsletter Links Archive for a compilation of feature links
from all past issues:
**Next Post - Tip Sharing
I have been receiving the Restaurant Report for a while now and have
found much of the information reported here very interesting, and
I work in a privately owned restaurant chain (3 units at the
moment with a fourth to come in a month or so). The unit that I work
at is a large restaurant with a gaming and redemption area , pool
hall, banquet facility, bar.
We are at the moment considering changing from our current system of
server tip outs to a tip sharing program in which we will take a
percentage of our servers tips and share them with the 3 departments
of our staff that are in direct contact with the restaurant facility,
instead of our current system of servers tipping out each of these
departments with our own set minimums.
I would like to know if any of your readers have experienced
changing from our current system to a tip sharing environment. I have
heard pros and cons about the system. My concerns retaining current
employees and being able to attract new employees on this system.
I also have concerns about whether or not it helps improve teamwork
and guest service.
If anyone has information concerning tip sharing pros or cons, I
would really like to know.
Thanks in advance,
Jeff - firstname.lastname@example.org
Send newsletter feedback and comments to us at
You know how great your managers are -- you know all about your chef's
expert background and impressive resume -- but do your customers know?
Fact #1: People love insider information.
So give it to them -- share some tidbits with them about your chef(s)
on your website. Let your managers tell a story. Make it possible
for customers to connect with your staff -- let your customers know
that your restaurant is full of real people that want to make the
dining out experience as pleasurable as possible.
Fact #2: People love pictures.
Call it human curiosity -- folks want to know what other people look
like. Have a photographer take pictures of your staff and post them
on your website.
The Results: Your customers will enjoy the inside peek you're willing
to share with them and your staff will know that you're committed to
them and understand their value in your organization. A win-win
Jaime Oikle is the Co-Founder of Restaurant Report.
Have you any suggestions for links that would provide information
regarding how many restaurants in Florida, percentage that goes out of
business, etc ? Just some stats on the industry in Florida. I am sure
they are available on the internet but have no clue. I'd appreciate
Shirley Dipace - email@example.com
I am looking at opening a new restaurant. I am having a terrible time
finding a computer program to create an appealing menu. I use windows
95. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated. If you have some info
please email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks - Wendy
I am opening up a new health food restaurant. I need information on
1. Average food cost (gross margin)
2. Growth trends in the health food industry.
3. How many more customers buying health food.
Any information that I can use for a business plan.
George - email@example.com
Note @ the Bulletin Board: If you can lend advice/assistance/comments
etc. please respond to either the individual directly or to us at
firstname.lastname@example.org We'll summarize and post responses that we receive that would benefit the group.
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