Should waiters take notes?

How to train your dragon waiter*

*waiter, waitress, waitron, server, steward etc – replace with whichever term you find least offensive

Fancy waiters without notepads

Yes, yes, for many years now, a sign of a classy restaurant is the fact that your possibly college-educated waiter takes your order without the need for a pen and paper.

“Paperless” waiters create an impression that staff members are well-trained and educated. However, the service must be impeccable for your establishment to get this one right. It’s no help if the waiter gets the order wrong or forgets to bring the starter!

If the waiter manages to remember the order correctly (without the need to come back to the table and confirm it) then your patrons will be impressed, but it is something that can easily backfire when things do not go according to plan.

Train ’em up

Waiters need to be very knowledge with respect to your restaurant’s menu. Ideally, the waiter should be able to answer questions as to ingredients in dishes and address diner’s concerns in line with their particular dietary requirement (without needing to excuse themselves to go and ask the chef).

Far more impressive (than a waiter who does not need a notepad) is a waiter who understands dishes that complement each other, and even more so, can suggest wine parings.

Waiters should not only undergo training in respect of their duties and the menu when they first begin at the restaurant, but refresher courses should be mandatory.  Alternatively, you should conduct an internal audit / review process, or make use of a mystery diner service such as Guestwho.

All waiters need kitty notepads and sparkly pens

(Not really). In fact, preferably, not at all! If waiters will be making use of notepads, either provide a standard notepad to staff, or insist upon a particular style of notepad being used. It is most definitely off-putting when a waiter whips out a scraggly and scruffy old notepad and then searches for an open space within which to record your guest’s order! The neater the presentation of the notebook, the better the impression created as to the strict requirements of the restaurant (and its general cleanliness and tidiness).

The standard-issue kitty notepad & sparkly pen

The standard-issue kitty notepad & sparkly pen

Vegan, gluten free, banting – can your restaurant keep up?

With so many new diets and dietary restrictions these days, is it even possible for your restaurant to cater for them all and does it even matter?

Our mystery guests love being “difficult customers” and we’ve included some easy tips below for helping you to stay ahead of the diet trend.

Firstly, know thy diet (a rather rudimentary guide)

vegetarian – no meat, no fish but does eat eggs and dairy;

vegan – no animal products at all (no meat, no fish, no eggs, no dairy);

pescatarian – like a vegetarian but also eats fish;

ovo-vegetarian – like a vegan, but eats eggs;

lacto-vegetarian – like a vegan, but has dairy;

raw foodist – like a vegan, but food cannot be cooked above certain (very low) temperatures;

gluten free – as the name implies!

banting – low carb, high protein.

Secondly, examine your menu

You needn’t redo your entire menu, but catering for any of the above dietary restrictions can be really easy.  You don’t even need to have a specific menu option available, but could rather include a note that your restaurant is “[insert whichever applicable diet] friendly” and encourage guests to ask their waitron for more information.

Thirdly, make small changes

Most restaurants already cater for pescatarians, vegetarians (lacto- and ovo-vegetarians) and the banters, but there are some really easy ways to make guests with other dietary restrictions feel more welcome –

  • stock long-life soya/almond/rice milk for the vegans;
  • stock gluten-free breads / wraps;
  • have a gluten-free pasta option (if your restaurant serves pasta);
  • consider “build your own” salad, pizza or wrap options to enable customers to choose their own fillings/toppings;
  • many of your current menu options may already be catering for specific requirements, without you even realizing this.  Discuss menu items with your head chef and identify those that can be re-branded where appropriate.

Customers with special dietary requirements are more than happy to pay a little extra, so feel free to add an on small levy for the soya milk or gluten free wrap options – your restaurant patrons will gladly pay this.

If you are still feeling lost in a world of interesting diets, contact Guestwho and we will happily assist you in identifying where your restaurant can make simple changes with significant results for your special request guests.

A perfectly delicious vegan Philly steak

A perfectly delicious vegan Philly cheese steak