Getting reviewed by Dara and failing

This story is unfortunately true. Over time it has morphed into a fictitious character and sequence of events out of self-preservation and shame. Finally, I am ready to be honest with my low points as much as I celebrate my wins.

I started at Tonic of Uptown a few weeks after they opened and received no formal training, no menu specs, no beverage tasting notes…. I mean nada! At that point we didn’t even have floor charts with sections. My only training shift was in the bar where my comfort was already high. I’m not sure if it was my first or second shift on the floor that I got to wait on a table in the dining room.

At arrival, I knew I had met my match. The questions were thick and relenting. They were looking for a dining experience and I literally knew nothing of the menu. They asked about the signature Tonic Stone…. Which was news to my ears. What, we have a signature dish?                                               

I let it go

Several days later, my work friends and I were sitting around drinking in Uptown. One of them started reading the review on Tonic by Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl. Dara was a very well known food critic and we were so excited that she reviewed our restaurant.

By the second or third line in, my heart sunk deep into my belly and my gut was in my throat. Sentence after sentence, Dara was ripping the server for not having a clue. Everyone laughed, “What idiot was the server in this review?”

Everything kind of went black and I was frozen in fear. I laughed along with my friends at the stupid server who made Tonic look so bad as I secretly died on the inside from embarassment.

A trainer with a mission

I know it was that experience that made me the great trainer I am today. I never want anyone to feel like I felt that day. Employees are the ones who RUN THE BUSINESS day in and day out. Restaurants often lack time and resources. People are pushed through training or receive no formal training and are left lacking key skills and knowledge to be successful. I always try and think, what question the guests will ask the staff…. meticulously looking at menus and figuring out what is imperative to know by heart.

Do they need to know every ingredient in every item? NO!  Think of it in terms of what do they need to know their first day on their own? What about day 14 working for you? Create a culture of continual improvement in your restaurant. Your level of care in their knowledge level will ensure your success and theirs.

The human resouce should be respected and protected!

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