A Guide to Managing Your Door Effectively, Part 1: Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen
A guest starts forming an impression of your restaurant the minute they step inside, so it’s important to create a great experience for them even at the door. But when the doors are opening and it’s all happening, how do you keep everything in check? How do you handle guests that are waiting? How can you use technology to make things more efficient?
Below, in Part One of a series of learnings on managing your door more effectively, Reserve’s industry vets share ways that managers can be helpful at the door while avoiding having “too many cooks in the kitchen.” Because (surprise!) 10 different people manning the books isn’t the best approach.
Know your role and stick to it.
“As the GM, I actively tried not to take an order on a table. I’d pour water, I’d bus tables, I’d run food but anything relationship oriented like taking an order cuts off your server at the knees. Or if you’re greeting the guests, it’s the same thing. The host should say hello and goodnight. The GM should just support all those responsibilities and elevate where possible.” — Peter Esmond, former General Manager of Per Se in New York and current VP of Customer Success at Reserve
“If you’re in a high volume restaurant, it’s critical you have one stationary point person at the door. Don’t have too many cooks in the kitchen.” — Chandre Geis, former General Manager of of Aster in San Francisco and Uchi Restaurant and La Condesa in Austin and current Restaurant Success Manager at Reserve
“Allow the host to do their job and not overstep. The host usually does have a plan and everything is mapped out in a particular way. Look in from the outside and step in as needed.” — Katie Nielsen, former Operations Manager at Motze in San Francisco and current Implementation and Support Specialist - West Coast at Reserve
Show your face — your best one.
“It’s difficult for an anchor to go and hunt down a manager when things are chaotic. So a GM should come up regularly and be in touch with the host stand. Then they can be the in between person — to let the kitchen know how many menus are about to drop and to talk to guests that are waiting too long.” — Katarina Havana, former Maître d' of Spice Market in New York and current Implementation and Support Specialist - East Coast at Reserve
“A manager should model the behavior and optimistic default they want their team at the front door to mimic.” — Eli Feldman, former DOO at Barbara Lynch Gruppo in Boston and current Restaurant Success Manager at Reserve
Put out the fires.
“The GM should always get involved at the 15 minute mark when a guest is waiting. The host would come tap me and tell me who was waiting 15+ minutes and I would introduce myself and talk to the guest. We’d become friends, and it’s typically great after that.” — Ben Fileccia, former DOO of Sbraga Dining in Philadelphia and current Restaurant Partnerships Manager - Mid-Atlantic at Reserve
“The GM is the diffuser when you get angry customers from time to time. Sometimes guests just need to know they’ve talked to someone else besides the host.” — Pete Schaaf, former GM of Roberta’s in New York and current Restaurant Success Manager at Reserve