The Restaurant Business Should be a Gen Ed

I myself came upon the restaurant industry fairly suddenly and very coincidentally.  At the time I was a junior in college and working at an architecture firm which specialized mainly in tenant improvements for medical, dental and veterinary offices: it was riveting.  A new job wasn’t necessarily on my mind but when my sister in law told me Dr. Weil was part of a new restaurant opening in town…and that they were hiring…I decided why not check it out?  Talk about the stars aligning: that night I could not for the life of me fall asleep so during my insomnia stupor I sent an email to the address on the company’s website and promptly received an email back (about 2:00 AM) from the company’s head chef saying “come by tomorrow for an interview,” and that was it…I had a new job.

There are many reasons I am so grateful for this fated situation the greatest of which being the experience of working in the restaurant (or for that matter the hospitality) industry.  After three years of working at this restaurant I have learned so many great lessons, lessons I believe EVERY SINGLE PERSON should have to know before they are set loose on the world.  I believe that if everyone worked in a restaurant at one point in their life (especially as a server or hostess) the world would be a much better place…specifically because:

1.  People would have a greater sense of ownership over their actions and their responsibilities. The restaurant business, more so than school, working in an office or everyday life, has taught me that (and I know this is a general statement) you just need to bite the bullet on what needs to be done because no one else will do it for you and if you don’t with adequate input you’ll probably have to do it over again.  Serving tables can be a great (but maybe stretched) metaphor for life…if I don’t listen to my tables and do my job, they don’t get what they want and I’ll most likely have to do it all over again, making my job that much harder the second time around.  If you’re on a closing shift you’ll also quickly find out that if you don’t thoughtfully do your part of the closing duties…you’re not leaving. Just get it done and get it done right the first time, it’ll make it so much more painless!

2.  People would recognize the good and the bad that goes into getting that food to their table:  I mean this statement in so many different ways.  When I say the “bad” that goes into getting their food I mean that people would realize that the process isn’t all that glamorous and when I say “good” I am referred to the many people it takes and the hard work they put into that one dish.  The best way to put it is how***** I think if people realized that this is what happened in the restaurant in order for them to get their food they would become much more connected with the great and often detrimental lengths (sustainably speaking) it takes to get their ordered food and they would also have a much greater appreciation for the people who helped prep and cook that food

3.  People would be kinder and much more patient…not just with their servers, but with all people in the hospitality industry:  With the exception of someone who absolutely never goes eating out or someone who never partakes, as a consumer, in a situation that involves the “hospitality” of another person getting you what you want, this rule should apply to EVERYONE.  When you work as a server you will see people from every walk of life…including the good the bad and the ugly.  The best thing I will take away from my 3 years in the restaurant industry is the lesson that little acts of kindness really do make a difference!  I’ve had people turn my entire day around by taking an extra 2 minutes to ask me about myself, by staring my right in the eye and saying “thank you” with great sincerity and even by leaving an extra two dollars in the tip: you’d be amazed the different a 10 dollars tip vs an 8 dollar tip on a 40 dollar tab can make on your servers day.   People would also recognize what a hard job serving tables and even being a hostess at a busy restaurant can be (that job has made me cry harder than the harshest of architectural school reviews) and that that entire dining experience goes so much deeper than just your server…they are not, contrary to popular belief, in charge of everything that happens at your table or with your food (although I know I try my hardest to be on top of it).

Everyone might be a little more inclined to be more patient with these people who are working so hard to give you exactly what you want: how can you be mad at somebody for that?


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