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FOH vs. BOH: 12 Tips to Ease Tension

FOH vs. BOH: 12 Tips to Ease TensionOh the woes of being a server: the fast paced rush, the kitchen yelling at you for what  your customers have ordered, the table of people that are mean to you and make you want to cry and the co-worker who is always telling you how to do things better!  It seems the woes never end!  One of the biggest influences on a shift can be how you and the BOH interact with each other.  Thankfully, this is an area that you have more control over then you may realize.

I asked 100 chefs to offer their advice to servers to create a more pleasant and respectful relationship between the two houses.  Here is what they said.

  1. Use your expediter to communicate.  Your Expediter is the liaison between you and everyone in the kitchen.  Don’t attempt to talk to chef’s on the line for any reason. Problems or modifications should be discussed with the Expediter. They will take it from there.
  2. Run food!  Everyone in the kitchen has taken great pains in preparation and the creation of dishes that sit on the line waiting for anyone with time to deliver them.  It doesn’t matter if it’s your table, your section or not, it is a paying guest’s food; plated and ready.  Any call for “food runner” should be met with a sense of urgency.
  3. Don’t take things to heart.  Thick skin is the order of the day.  Don’t take any immature, stupid or sharp comments personally.  Sometimes it’s not that easy but what is said during a busy rush is best not taken as a genuine insult.
  4. Hush on your tips.  Don’t boast, bitch or talk about the gratuities you have received or not received. While it’s fine to talk to your FOH peers about the money you make that conversation should be a private one and does not extend to the kitchen.
  5. Don’t use your cell phone.  While you are at work you should be focusing on things that need to be done or attended to: cleaning, guest’s needs or running food, not planning your time after work.
  6. Don’t use perfume or cologne at work.  People come out to eat to smell food, look at food and eat food.  The smell of perfume, while pleasant, has no business competing with the natural smells of the food.
  7. Make sure your order is correct.  It begins with what the guest says they want and ends with them receiving what they said they wanted.  The tricky part is everything in between.  Make sure you write down what the guest says, correctly and legibly, and put effort into putting that correct information into the computer system.
  8. Have a solution, know what is needed.  If you bring a dish back to expo from a guest, make sure you know what needs to be done to fix the problem right now.  Don’t explain the whole situation to expo…they don’t care, not at that moment.  What they care about is fixing the problem as fast as possible.  Clear and direct dialogue is key. “Table 1, seat 1: cook this steak up to mid-well, please” or “Table 6, seat 3: Please re-heat this risotto, it’s too cold.” are great ways of communicating.  The chef doesn’t need any back story, not right now.
  9. Say Please.  Please!  These are basic manners.
  10. Say Thank You. Thank you!  You were taught this since you were a kid.
  11. Buy a round.  Not all the time but if you have had an exceptional night thanks to a great kitchen team, it never hurts relations to buy them a drink.  They’ll remember and they’ll be grateful.
  12. Greet and bid adieu.  Saying hello to everyone when you come into work is a friendly and a nice introduction to a shift. There are often many servers that come in at a certain time and yet it is rare that any of them will actually go out of their way to say hello to the kitchen team. Often times they (the kitchen team) have been at the restaurant all day working; a friendly greeting is always welcome.  A genuine good night is always thoughtful as well!

Alright, here is where I ask you to check out my website: http://iamwaitress.com. The 427,826,211 person to visit it will win a billion dollars, maybe it will be you!

Jennifer Anderson is a server, certified Sommelier and FOH trainer/re-organizer.

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Serving: Common Wrong-Ways of Doing Common Things

Sometimes in life, the experience we gain, the repetitions we perform, can create a false feeling of perfection. The more times we perform a task without complication, the more we tend to believe that we are performing it perfectly.  This isn’t always the case.

A false feeling of perfection is something I have witnessed many times in the restaurant industry.  It seems that once servers get comfortable with their environment, they stop considering their actions.  As professional servers and managers, we must always strive to be better, to learn more, to hone our craft and to question our processes. When working with the same group of people, who have the same mentality and knowledge as ourselves, there is no one amongst us to correct us, to improve us or to guide us; we must rely on ourselves.

Below is a list of common wrong-ways of doing common things.  Do you do any of these?  What could you change tonight that could make you even better at your job?Serving: Common Wrong Ways of Doing Common Things

1.  Handle stem-ware from the stem not the globe.  Holding glasses from the base is what your customer can do, not you.  Keep the glass clean and free of smudges for as long as it is in your possession.

2.  When clearing glasses from a table DO NOT GRAB FROM THE RIM.  Palm the glasses in your hand or use a serving tray.  When you grab glasses from the top you are touching lots of people’s lips and spit…yuck.

3.  When you go to your table, return to the same spot every time.  People are creatures of habit.  Create a fast habit for your table and train them to notice you by being consistent.

4.  Seams down, seams in on all things linen. It’s a small thing but it creates a polished look that lets customers know that attention to detail is important to you.  That can create trust in the server/customer relationship.

5.  Do not carry your check presenter in your butt.  Some people do this and those people shouldn’t.

6.  Do not carry your serviette over your shoulder.  Your serviette should never be near your hair. Carry the serviette in your hand and pocket it when not in use.

7.  Do not point in the dining room.  Pointing is rude, you were taught that when you were little.  That rule applies in the dining room as well.  A flat hand or pointed fist is how you should show direction.

8.  Don’t call a female guest “Mam” or “Hun”.  Mams & Huns hate that!  Call them Miss.

9.  Don’t stand akimbo at a table (hands at hips).  Don’t stand with your hands in your pocket.  Stand with your arms at your side, clasped in front of you or clasped behind you.  This shows attention without showing a casual or over-familiar attitude.

10.  Present food open handed.  What is open handed?  If you could immediately and easily hug your customer after you set down their food that is open handed.  If when you set down their food Serving: Common Wrong Ways of Doing Common Thingsyou could immediately and easily elbow them in the face, it’s not.

11.  Do not auction food.  Unless you work at Denny’s, Denny’s servers have a free pass. If you don’t work at Denny’s, know who ordered what before you get to the table.

12.  Don’t tell a guest how you are unless you are doing good.  If they say “how are you?” DO NOT tell them ANYTHING negative.  A customer should never have to hear that your house burned down, you’re tired or you’re having a bad night. When they ask how you are, treat it as a nicety and nicely reply.

13.  Don’t touch your face in front of guests.

14.  Don’t touch your hair in front of guests.

15.  Don’t interrupt your guest’s conversation.  If they are in conversation, go to your “speaking spot” at the table, count to five, if they don’t give you attention then walk away and try back in a few minutes.  Do this as many times as it takes.

16.  When asking permission to remove dinnerware from someone, do not ask the guest if they are “still working” on their meal.  Remember, dining on the food that your restaurant serves is not work.  Instead, ask if they are finished “enjoying” their meal.

17.  When bussing a table, don’t stack plates on top of food or silverware.  There is a correct way of stacking plates.  Hold one plate in your hand, this plate is for silverware, share plates, bread plates and food scraps.  Place the next plate on your forearm, balancing it.  From that position add more plates to the plate nearest you and the food scraps, silverware and small plates to the plate in your hand.  When you have stacked all you can, put the plate from your hand on the top of the plate stack nearest you.   You are left with a nice, neat, manageable stack of plates.

18.  When presenting plates to guests you should not have your thumb on the plate.  Carry with the meat of your thumb/palm as much as possible.

Serving: Common Wrong Ways of Doing Common Things

19.  When possible, remove from the right; deliver from the left…unless it is soup.  Soup is delivered or poured from the right.

20.  Do you follow a set direction on the floor?  Developing a traffic map will make service more seamless and less clumsy.

21.  When presenting a bottle of wine for a table, remember to place the cork on something, never just place it on the table. Your goal is to keep the table free of clutter and clean, not add to its messiness.

22.  Do you leave the cork on the table?  You shouldn’t…unless they want to keep it, so always ask. The idea here is table maintenance.  One of your constant goals is keeping the table free of clutter, mess or debris.  An unwanted cork on the table is a mess, clutter and debris.

 

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