There should not be a fundamental difference between inviting people for a meal at your home versus a meal at your restaurant. In both situations, you should take personal pride in the quality of the meal and ambiance, out of respect for your guest as well as yourself. Here are a few areas where restaurants miss the mark.
No one contests the value of a good first impression. Yet, many restaurants fail on this front. It is not enough to train your staff to smile and say, “Welcome to such-and-such. How many in your party?” Words fall flat if there is not real sentiment behind them. You need to support your staff such that they develop a personal investment in their performance. Their smile and greeting should come from the place of pride not because it is required. The value of a genuine welcome versus a forced one is immeasurable and will add a warmth to your restaurant’s ambiance that is irresistibly attractive. Respect and support your staff as you would have them respect and support your guests.
Now that you’ve gotten your guests through the front door, how do you keep them there? Well, how do you prepare for friends and family when they visit for a meal? You clean! House-cleaning is on the top of the list of anyone throwing a house party. Why? Do you really need to impress family and friends with an immaculate house? It’s less about trying to impress someone as much as it is about showing respect, for yourself as well as your guests. Sticky menus, dusty corners, and faded linens speak volumes to the level of respect you have for your clients, staff, as well as self-respect. Encourage your staff to have an eye for these details.
Finally, would you ever hold a gathering with family and friends without giving serious thought and attention to the food you are providing? No matter how inviting and immaculate a restaurant is, if the food is mediocre, your guests will not return. There may not be a more obvious truth in the restaurant industry; however, there is a huge gap between recognizing something as true and changing your behavior accordingly. I recently experienced something that illustrates this point. I went into a local restaurant I had never tried before and loved my meal. I was so enthusiastic, I returned with a group of friends the next day. Although I ordered the same exact meal, it bore no resemblance to what I had eaten the day before. It was so poorly prepared, there were chunks of under-cooked portions intermingled with properly cooked portions. I could tell there was a different cook this time, as I had made a point of complimenting the chef the first day. This lack of continuity of service is a management issue. It is their job to create an environment such that every member of their staff is committed to providing service that reflects a personal investment.
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