Monday, November 16, 2009

What Makes a Great Restaurant?

Every so often, I wonder why I like some place that no one else seems to like. I used to assume it was personal taste or my quirky views on things. But there are some places I really like that fly under the radar. So why do I like these?

Of course, the food. If the food isn't at the level I assume for a place, then the deal is off. You can have exquisite settings, wonderful service, but ok food, I'm not going to like it.

Next is the service. From the moment I hit the front door, I want to feel like I'm being welcomed. Both family type dining or fancy. I don't expect a family place to be expecting me, but I want someone to greet me with a real smile and a welcoming greeting. I want a server to say hi, like they mean it. I want people to be polite and smile and not interrupt etc.

I want a clean place. It doesn't have to be scrubbed down and polished bright, but if I go into a Burger King, I really want to be clean enough to eat there. And clean enough to go to the bathroom. I've been in pretty nice restaurants that needed to have someone from the staff go in there and clean it thoroughly, please.

This isn't too much to ask, but frankly, few places do this. I guess training isn't what restaurants spend money on. Or the management is well trained either or just doesn't get it. I don't really want much, I just want to feel like I'm at someone's home.

Monday, November 9, 2009

100 things restaurant staffers shouldn't do

I ran across this blog at the New York Times a few days ago and loved it. There are a number of so so basic items and a few odd balls, but they add up to great ideas. The link to the first 50 is while the second half is at The
comments after these are also as odd as some of the comments. Some of my favorites are

18. Know before approaching a table who has ordered what. Do not ask, “Who’s having the shrimp?”

98. Do not wear too much makeup or jewelry. You know you have too much jewelry when it jingles and/or draws comments.

Every owner, manager and server should read these and do these. These apply to casual dining, family dining and finer dining. If a fine dining restaurant needs these, it has already probably failed.

I would add my own ideas. One of which is: dress your servers like you want the diners to be dressed. Never have your diners better dressed than the servers (Francesca's?). Also have your management dressed better than your staff.