By Daniel Singer
If you have ever been a student here at Walnut hill College, you have or will have our Restaurant Operations class (unless of course, you’re a pastry student). This is the class where the Management and Culinary students cross train in the student run restaurants in Front of the House and Back of the House. Practicing techniques taught by our instructors in classic French fine dining service.
At the close of class each night, our instructor Mr. Simonis summarizes a lot of what he saw and gives us a small closing speech of how we can improve based on the events of the night. During one of the nightly closing speeches, I will always remember one speech that really influenced my view of restaurants and even many aspects of life in general. The speech went a little like this after a slow night in ops:
“…In the restaurant there are days when we are very busy and there is lots to do… there are also days we are very slow and we can stand around. As the years go by you see this cycle continue and it may seem to be very repetitive, and too many people become very boring. Because of this, there needs to be a reason to work. I have found that the people who do the best in this industry are the servers and managers who love people, who enjoy serving, who enjoy building relationships with their guests. It is someone who truly loves people that can do well in the front of the house industry…”
Now, I am paraphrasing what he said and with much less elegance then how he said it, but, nonetheless you understand. In Greg Hook’s blog a couple weeks ago, he talked about having a passion for the restaurant industry and its service. In this industry, it’s a must have.
As someone who has had the opportunity to work at Fork as an Expediter, I am able to watch and observe how the restaurant operates. I watch as the line cooks in the kitchen prepare the food with very specific intent, and as they finish, pass their product on to the Chef who then begins, with very acute attention to detail, plating the dish. I observe how the Chef examines the food, searching for any imperfection that might damage the quality and presentation of their food, aiming to put out a perfect dish every single time, almost four hundred times a night.
I watch the servers as they greet their guests with big smiles, genuinely happy about the arrival of the guest. I watch as the entire staff treat each guest as if they were the only ones in the room and treating their dinner service as if they were the most important; making sure every detail of their meal was perfect such as: placing a cocktail fork for oysters or a spoon for soup, clearing and wiping the table after each course. The servers take individualized efforts to Pair wine with guests and guiding them along service taking great lengths to ensure they enjoy their experience.
It all seems so simple and repetitive, especially on nights when we might serve ten guests in our restaurant or have a 30% occupancy rate in your hotel, but it takes so much more than being smart. It takes that special intrinsic passion for people and others happiness that gives you a reason to do it. It takes a love of what you are doing to find a reason to pay so much attention to the small details, to treat those ten guests to the best meal they’ve ever had. It takes that special love to create a hospitality Service Professional.
-Daniel Singer, Student Leader
Restaurant Management, Class of July 2017