Meatloaf Roulette

In the December issue, Editor Mike Sanson griped about the common practice of servers auctioning off plates at the table: Who Gets the Meatloaf? Though just about everyone who wrote in agreed the practice is sloppy work at best, there were varying musings for why the practice takes place. What follows are excerpts from those who weighed in.

I was having an argument with a good friend from the industry. She told me that she is constantly impressed with the consistency of food and service in my restaurant, but not the way my food runners auction off entrees. I told her that I was okay with it, and then I received my issue of Restaurant Hospitality.

You are right, which means she was right, a fact that I painfully admitted to her an hour ago. Actually, I knew she was right when we started the discussion, but my ego would not give in.

The major issue is the fact that my servers, for the most part, do not deliver entrees. It's a simple fix: assign seat numbers on the p.o.s. system. I will be implementing the new policy as early as tonight. This would not have happened were it not for your editorial.

Christopher Rovezzi
Executive Chef/Owner
Rovezzi's Ristorante
Sturbridge, MA

I'm a second-generation restaurant owner with 30 years under my belt. Mother and father opened in 1956. Attention to detail is so important, and I'm hard on my staff for two reasons: One, customers are the top reason we're here. Two, my people make money by tending to the details.

James Quirk
New England Steak and Seafood
Mendon, MA

We teach our front of the house students to be as unobtrusive as possible at the table.

For some reason, many industry trainers and managers think the more you're at the table and talking to the guest, the better. No! Over-service is as bad as lack of service. You're right that managers should have systems in place, like table numbers and seat numbers. How can you run a dining room well without them?

Betsy Fischer
Culinary Arts Department
Santa Rosa Junior College
Santa Rosa, CA

I am fanatical about protecting our brand, and I've been able to get buy-in from my team by continually referring to an excerpt from Jim Collins' book Good to Great. It's now a part of our culture and language. The book features Dave Scott, who has won the Hawaiian Iron Man Triathlon six times.

In training, Scott rides his bike 75 miles, swims 20,000 meters and runs 17 miles, on average, every single day. Scott believes a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet gives him an extra edge. So, this athlete, who burns at least 5,000 calories a day in training, rinses his cottage cheese to get the extra fat off. The point is that rinsing his cottage cheese was simply one more, small step that he believed would make him just that much better. It takes one small step added to the other small steps to create a consistent program for achievement and progress. He had a plan and he stuck to it. Now that's good stuff.

Roy Badgley
Managing Partner
Stephan Parry Restaurants
Richmond, VA