At Reserve we realize that hospitality is about helping people connect, share great food and have amazing dining experiences. Our mission is to make dining better for our restaurant partners as well as their guests. To do that most effectively, we work alongside our partners not only to create our technology, but to deepen our understanding of the restaurant industry (so that we better understand how to help). So from time to time, after someone’s day is done at the office, they’ll join our partners for a shift. Our Reserve After Hours program ensures everybody on our team has the opportunity to work on-site at one of exceptional restaurants that make our service possible. Keep an eye on our blog for these first-hand accounts.
In the early days of Reserve – yes, even earlier than now – our Head of Expansion, Maggie Rold, and I would sit down with general managers, chefs and restaurateurs to talk with them about how we could work together to improve the dining experience. The conversation often turned to the inner workings of restaurants, and we would all trade anecdotes from our years in the industry. These conversations helped us realize that if we were really going to improve the dining experience for our partners, it was critical to understand their perspective. That way we could build a service that would really work for them – helping address any issues and more fully realize their vision for their restaurant.
To help us make sure our “better dining experience” was truly the best, we needed to make sure anyone at Reserve who hadn’t worked in the restaurant industry had the chance to understand what it was like to walk a mile in our partner’s shoes (or kitchen clogs). Reserve After Hours gets each Reserve team member into restaurants, running dishes, bussing tables, working at the host stand, and sometimes even venturing into the heat of the kitchen. The program wouldn’t be possible without the trust and patience of our wonderful and very brave restaurant partners.
I first met Executive Chef David Santos of Louro at a tribute dinner in New Jersey for chef and restaurateur David Bouley. Somewhere between chopping horseradish alongside Chef George Mendes and dancing in formal attire, Chef Santos and I began chatting about Reserve. We’ve been working happily with Louro ever since – but I hadn’t expected that I would find myself working at Louro as well.
For my first official After Hours shift, I arrived before the guests and was greeted by Liz, the general manager; Ben, Louro’s bartender; and James, the server I shadowed. They gave me a rundown of the dining room, menu, and the evening’s reservations. Under Liz’s tutelage, I staffed the hostess stand, checking in guests and selecting their table and server, as well as helping update the information about how each table was progressing with their meal. I shadowed James as he welcomed his tables and took orders, sent them to the kitchen and worked with the expediter to get each dish to the correct table and guest.
Over the course of the evening I watched the entire staff at Louro massage the stresses and strains of a fast-paced environment, and provide a fun and elegant experience (and amazing food) for every diner who walked through the doors.
At the end of the night, I had the chance to step behind the bar to mix a few cocktails for guests. The wallpaper was made of photos taken at New York Public Library, and I noticed something handwritten on the wall. Liz explained to me that it was the recipe for the restaurant’s pork butter, which is served with bread to every guest. In The butter references a time in Portuguese history when black pepper was a prized spice, more expensive than gold, and used when roasting pigs. Servants would sneak tastes of the peppery pork drippings to their families to give them a “taste of the good life.”
Having now worked at Louro on our first official After Hours shift, I have even more respect for Chef Santos and his team. Providing exceptional hospitality is central to their philosophy, and learning the countless personal touches that went into every aspect of the restaurant made me feel even more connected afterwards. This is the feeling and understanding we want everyone at Reserve to have, so we can be engaged, inspired, and continue to bring innovation to the table to make your dining experience better!
Michelle Manning, Expansion Operations