In honor of the announcement of the 2011 Diners’ Choice Awards for Restaurants Providing the Best Service, we sat down with Boston blogger Patrick Maguire, a longtime service professional and champion of service providers via his popular Server Not Servant blog.
Patrick, as someone who sits on both sides of the equation, server and diner, how hard is it to execute service at these award-winning restaurants?
A lot harder than most people will ever know. I heard about what went on behind the scenes at Menton, arguably the new pinnacle of fine dining in Boston (Ed Note: Menton is on our list!). The planning, training, role-playing, and practice required to provide consistent, seamless service requires a huge investment of time, effort, and energy by everyone involved. Service is only one part of the overall dining experience. As I have said before, great service is execution; great hospitality is a mindset, an awareness, and a culture focused on making a meaningful and memorable connection with guests. If you make a memorable connection with your guests, you can convert them from being guests to becoming ambassadors for your restaurant.
What’s the most difficult aspect of being a service provider?
Staying on top of all of the information that you are bombarded with. With all of these new movements — the cocktail renaissance, snout-to-tail butchery, sustainable sourcing — the list is endless. And, diners have so much information, literally at their finger tips, that they expect servers to know exactly where their food is sourced, in addition to knowing the ingredients of each dish and how it is executed in the kitchen.