Restaurant Tips: Ways to become a rockstar server

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Friends gather at the hip speakeasy downtown. Word on the street – it’s the cool new spot. Drinks are stylishly referred to as “libations” on the menu. Strategically arranged dishes move out of the open kitchen and onto table tops. The dimmed lighting gives the place a swanky vibe and the music selection rocks. The place is on point, but is that enough to make guests want to come back?

The answer prevalent among the Yelp community – is no. No matter how trendy the restaurant may be, service is what really counts. From places new and old, there’s always room for improvement. Here are some ways to deliver top notch service – starting with a positive attitude.

A fresh approach
Guests can overlook imperfection when it’s accompanied by sincerity and a positive attitude. Foodies and bloggers at Chef Seattle agreed that a server can get away with forgetting a drink or delivering the wrong entree, so long as they handle it well. A smile and a kind personality trump little errors that people are bound to make.

In one instance, a server received a job well done from the bloggers despite several hiccups in service because they had the right attitude. These things happen and a busy restaurant can be a stressful environment, the bloggers acknowledged, but it’s important to keep calm throughout the shift. Guests can pick up on negativity and it can ruin the entire experience for them.

It’s the little things
Servers should keep their eyes and ears open for cues at all times. A person looking around may be in need of a sharp knife or a new napkin. Maybe someone wants to put in a drink order. A server should be on it when the occasion arises. The difference between a good and great employee is the art of anticipation or knowing what the guests needs before they do.

It’ll seem like the server is on his or her “A” game if they are able to give guests what they need before they ask for it. Little shortcuts and steps are key in handling many tasks. There’s no shame in a server writing down an order. Accuracy trumps memorization skills – especially when there are many details to recall.

For example, Manhattans can be served chilled, stirred, neat or perfect. Getting it right the first time can make for a smoother transition into the rest of service. Also, timeliness is important. The order in which the food comes out does matter, for example it’s awkward if an appetizer arrives at the table before the first round of drinks. It’s also jarring for food to come out too fast or slow. The server should focus on coursing the food out in the computer system and keeping an eye on tables to avoid occurrences like these.

Move the feet
Urgency also factors into providing good dinner service. If someone wants some mustard for a sandwich, it won’t do the guest much good to receive it after they’ve already finished eating. These tasks keep restaurant staff in constant motion.

To improve speed, servers should think of their guests as sections rather than individual tables, Thrillist​ explained. A server could save time by delivering bread to table 5, drinks to table 2 and stemware to table 3 all in one round. If during a server’s routine, a guest tries to get his or her attention they should acknowledge them even if it’s out of turn.

The server shouldn’t ignore tables that are outside of his or her section, explained Thrillist. If a group of people needs something, wait staff should work as a team to help them out. It can make diners feel unwelcome or ignored if someone isn’t willing to help because they might not know that space is divided into table sections. Servers have a lot of face time with guests so it’s important for restaurant staff to know the menu and products.

Knowledge is power
A person who drinks California Pinot Noir frequently will likely notice if a server delivers a glass of Chilean Cabernet instead. If the server doesn’t know the difference between the wines on the menu, it’s better to ask a coworker for advice than to make it up. What’s not good is pretending to know. This can create problems for other servers in the future. If someone gives an inaccurate description, the guest could have a difficult time getting what they’re looking for next time they return, suggested Thrillist.

In short, servers should be efficient, knowledgeable, timely and friendly. These pointers can take time but when the server has them down they can improve the overall guest experience and even the tip average. At the end of the day, a high quality restaurant is just average unless the service is on point.


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