Restaurant advice can be a wide ranging topic. When you ask someone what the most important aspect of a restaurant is, you are likely to get vague responses mentioning price, quality, service, or atmosphere. These generic answers do little to help restaurant owners make decisions and prioritize. Here is a list of 5 pieces of simple restaurant advice to help any restaurant/bar ensure that guests leave with a smile and come back for more.
Restaurant Advice #1. Don’t Push Tips
Today’s first piece of restaurant advice is to make sure your servers aren’t pushy when it comes to their tips. Restaurants should also try hard not to automatically include tips in the bill unless you have a large party. I’ve been a server, and I know what its like to get stiffed. I also understand that some establishments need to automatically include tips for various reasons. At the end of the day, you need to look at the long-term affects of being aggressive about tipping. The bill is the last thing your customer will be given by their server. If you automatically include a tip of 18% for a guest who usually tips below average, the taste left in their mouth will not be of the delicious food or drinks. They will remember how they felt ripped-off, or worse, they will feel cheap. While you may have altruistic intentions of teaching the guest a lesson about tipping, you need to remember that this is about you, your business, and making sure that you have repeat customers. If you want guests to come back, let them tip as they see fit. If you do need to include a tip in the bill, make sure you very clearly tell your guests that you have done so. I can’t tell you how many times I have double tipped because i either wasnt paying attention or it wasnt clear on the receipt)
Restaurant Advice #2. ”I’ll be right there” is Better than 20 Minutes of Waiting
Servers are very busy people. Not many will disagree. But one thing that people often share with me is that they hate it when a server doesn’t even acknowledge that they’ve arrived. It doesn’t take much time for a server to glance over at a new table and tell them that he/she will be right with them. The standard rule of thumb is that a server should acknowledge new guests within three minutes of them being seated. This is especially important because the initial interaction between the server and the guest will set the tone for the entire dining experience.
Restaurant Advice #3. Everyone Wants Water
This goes along with #2. Having your server bring water without asking will work wonders. This small gesture not only makes your guests feel like their server is very attentive (even if he/she is extremely busy), but it will also save time because the server will not need to stop to ask your guests if they want water in the first place (honestly, how many people decline water?). Providing water and giving the guest something to consume right off the bat will also help keep them occupied. For extra bonus points you could even have the server bring a side-dish of pre-sliced lemons to put in the water.
Restaurant Advice #4. Keep the Guest Comfortable
Make sure there is nothing intrusive about your restaurant. I am amazed at how many establishments overlook this simple rule. It does not matter how good your food is, how fresh your ingredients are, or how nice your server is. If your guest is uncomfortable, it will override anything positive a guest remembers about your restaurant/bar.
Most establishments are good at eliminating the factors that might make a guest feel uncomfortable, but there are three that are consistently overlooked: 1) Don’t invade a guest’s space. Tables should NEVER be so close together that a guest is physically closer to the person at the next table than they are from the person/people they are dining with. 2) Turn the music down. Be preemptive and keep in mind that people are always complaining about how music (even live music) is too loud. Lets be honest, how many times have you had a guest ask you to turn the volume up? 3) If you wouldn’t want to sit there, then don’t put a table there. I have seen restaurants put tables in the bathroom hallway (unfortunately not joking). If you wan’t your guests to enjoy themselves, then make sure every table is a decent place to sit.
Restaurant Advice #5. Perfect Pours are NOT Fancy
I like a healthy glass of wine. I don’t know who thought it was a good idea to use a measuring cup to perfectly limit the amount of wine I get. It doesn’t matter if the server uses a line etched into the wine glass, or a little cup to measure the perfect amount. When a guest sees you rationing out their wine, they will think you are cheap. Of course you don’t need to overdo it, but hire a bartender that knows what a decent glass of wine looks like.
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