We all know that hospitality is the key to success in the restaurant industry — not just getting butts in seats, but building real relationships with your guests and making them feel taken care of. In practice, though, hospitality requires an incredible amount of work: meticulous documentation, next-level interpersonal skills, and constant communication.
To see what that looks like in real life, we talked to three restaurant pros who have mastered it. Paul Walsh is Guest Relations Manager at Gramercy Tavern in New York City, where he estimates as many as 160,000 guests dine in a given year. And the Gramercy Tavern team keeps track of all of them. It’s not uncommon for a guest visiting from Virginia to remember a conversation he had with them two years ago and ask about him when they’re back in the restaurant. “We’re keeping track of this stuff for a reason: we want to make these people be recognized,” says Paul.
At the former restaurant Betony, also in New York City, General Manager Eamon Rockey catered to guests from all over the world in a special-occasion, fine-dining setting. Their approach tailored experiences to individuals. “I think of our approach to hospitality as being one that is highly studied and dependent on great amounts of information,” he says. “It’s practiced constantly and ultimately intended to be as personal as absolutely possible.”
Finally, Tai Ricci is a partner at Hi Neighbor restaurant group, which operates Stones Throw, Trestle, and Corridor in San Francisco. Their concepts are approachable, neighborhood restaurants, but that doesn’t mean they are any less thoughtful about hospitality. “I have a list in the five years that I’ve been here of 650 regulars — my list of people that I had such a connection with when they walked in the door,” says Tai. “Everyone wants to feel special, and it doesn’t take much at all. You just have to actually care.”
Here, find insider tips from Tai, Eamon, and Paul for creating incredible guest experiences, plus everything it takes behind the scenes. [Read more…]