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Tag Archives: Chili’s

Pride in your restaurant…

…can help you in your interactions with your guests.

Even if you work in a fairly generic restaurant like Chili’s or Applebee’s, surely there’s something in the history of the organization that can be pointed to to distinguish it from every other restaurant in world; sometimes it can even distinguish it from others in the chain.

I work for neither of the above restaurants, but for example:

Chilihead waiter points to picture on the wall, directing the patron’s attention to it – “Did you know that every Chili’s has one picture that hangs upside down? Have you ever noticed this picture and wondered why it was upside down? It’s a tradition that every Chili’s maintains…” Waiter tells whatever story they’re taught about the way the tradition started. If there’s no “official Corporate version”, they make up something outrageous. They also point out, “We’ll be 35 years old this year. We’re very proud to be one of the oldest surviving restaurant chains in the country”.

Or O’Charley’s waiter says, “Did you know that there’s an actual Charlie? He founded our restaurant and he’s still alive and lives in Nashville. We just turned 40 last year. We’re getting pretty good at cooking by now”!

Or an Applebee’s bartender tells a bar patron, “Did you know that our first restaurant was called T.J. Applebee’s Rx for Edibles & Elixirs? Have I got a prescription for you – my special Cosmopolitan features Absolut Citron, Cointreau and fresh squeezed lime juice. Would you expect anything less from the worlds largest restaurant chain? We might be large, but we’re your neighborhood restaurant, right”?

Yeah, I know, the verbiage is a bit corny. I’m not suggesting that you copy these, but you should know your restaurant’s history and be able to integrate relevant parts of it whenever it seems appropriate. Even if you mock your own corporate restaurant to your friends because it’s “too faceless”, “too corporate”, “too impersonal”, etc., remember, as long as you work there, you should take advantage of whatever advantages the corporate history that you were forced to memorize during your training phase offers because, remember, it’s your income. If you find this onerous, I’d suggest that you’re probably not working at a place that is comfortable for you.

If you work at an independent restaurant, you have an advantage. Simply by reminding your guest that your restaurant is locally owned, you put yourself apart from the competition. It’s likely that the history isn’t formally taught in a structured fashion, so you might have to use anecdotes that has been passed around, or, failing that, ask your ownership about the history of the restaurant. You might be able to find some interesting things to relay to your guests.

There’s always a hook somewhere – whether it’s community involvement, the artwork on the wall, the piano that’s 60 years old that was played by Van Cliburn during a visit in the 60s, the menu item that’s been on the menu for 20 years; the list is endless. Every restaurant has something that distinguishes it from every other restaurant. Sometimes it’s sitting right in front of your face.