Food & Drink Magazine

Carmen Solita Shared Waiters Today's Blog Post on Facebook

By Waiterstoday @Waiters_Today

Carmen Solita shared Waiters Today's blog post on FacebookWhen diners come into our restaurants, they're paying for more than just the food. With the prevalence of higher end fast food and ready-to-cook grocery store fare, all available for a fraction of a sit-down restaurant's prices, the food itself you serve doesn't represent the real value. The value is in the service, the experience. Hospitality is everything.

Acclaimed New York restaurateur Danny Meyer said in an interview on Oprah, "when we are first born, literally within moments of being born, we get four gifts that I think we spend the rest of our lives trying to recapture: eye contact, a smile, a hug and some pretty good food."

Think back on your memories of the best dining experiences you've had. How many of them were about the food? And how many were about the overall experience? Restaurant CEO Terry Ryan recalls a few memorable restaurant experiences in Italy. No matter what restaurant he dined in, the entire staff -- from the waiters and waitresses to the hostesses and bartenders -- treated him like they were sincerely glad he was there. Something as simple as asking to be pointed in the direction of the restroom became a new opportunity to show hospitality, and a server actually walked him there. On the way out of the restaurant, every single staff member Terry passed thanked him for dining with them. Now that's hospitality.

But remember, there is a difference between service and hospitality. As a waiter, waitress, or bartender, it is your job to offer service. That's what you're paid to do. Hospitality involves going above and beyond to make your guests feel welcome. One reason so many family-owned restaurants have survived in the day of the corporate restaurant chain is they make their diners feel like part of the family, part of something special.

So how does it benefit you, as a server, to put a priority on hospitality? There are a couple of reasons. The first and most obvious (but not necessarily the most important) is your bottom line. Generally speaking, the better service you provide, and this includes your hospitality, the greater your tips are going to be. Of course there will always be those tables that will leave $2 on a $30 check no matter what you do, even if you've gone above and beyond. But when you put in the little extra effort to make your diners feel like honored guests in your restaurant, you're sure to be taking home more money at the end of the day.

Good hospitality can even trump mediocre food or a slow day in the kitchen. Think about the last time you had dinner at a friend's house. What made the evening memorable? Was it the stellar lasagna your best friend cooked up or how quickly she refilled your tea? Probably not. What makes those dinners special is the sense of community when we spend time with people we care about, and if you can recreate that feeling in your restaurant, your guests will leave happy even if other things went wrong, as they sometimes do.

Lastly, creating an atmosphere of hospitality in your restaurant is infectious. We all have those days where we walk through the door in a lousy mood, and sometimes that mood spreads to customers and negatively impacts tips. When you start treating your guests with that special something extra, it will rub off on you. As humans, it makes us feel good when we're kind to others, so even if you have to fake it at first, you may find your smiles and acts of hospitality start to make your day better as well.

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