As a General Manager of a fine dining restaurant, the start of my day can come early, and the end of my day can be late. The world does not revolve around me, but I have my hands dipped into its oceans and believe me, they are soaking wet.
Every day I wake up to something new. Working in the hospitality industry, I have to be hospitable to everyone from our repairmen, purveyors, employees, and guests, to their dogs, cats, cars, and children. Did something break down? Don’t worry; I will be back at the restaurant to meet a repairman at 7 am to get the kitchen equipment serviced. Did I forget to respond to your e-mail? You won’t get it at 11 o’clock at night when I sit at my computer to do my nightly reports. I will jaunt down to the restaurant at 10 am because I couldn’t sleep last night thinking I would lose your business if I don’t answer back. My food vendor’s driver forgot the key to drop off the food? My phone rings first to get down there immediately because if I don’t, we can’t open! As I said, it’s all in a day’s work… to start. Then I can go home again and enjoy the rest of my morning.
Afternoons are quite calm for me. A salad, cup of coffee, check the messages, review emails, make callbacks, and organize that night’s service check off a majority of my list. Easy. The chefs arrive and a subtle “Hello, how are you?” or “How was your weekend?” will do most of the time. Everyone has issues and, believe me, I take great joy in helping people laugh, calm down, and start their work day. As a manager, it is my responsibility to make sure to keep a positive atmosphere because it breeds success. This isn’t a weekly “pat on the back” meeting — this is a daily requirement, like it or not. If you are not able to relate to your staff, need not apply. Running errands to the store, picking up wine, liquor, or beer, could be on the list, but I trust my bartender to do most of the liquor aspect. Being a manager also entails an absolute trust and a sense of who and how to delegate to while still trying to grow your business. Did I post the features on Facebook yet? How about advertising my next big event in an email newsletter? It could get hairy from time to time but all in all, as I said, afternoons are reasonably calm.
4 pm. The service staff starts to arrive. One hour until service. It’s time to cross the Ts and dot the Is. Make sure all of the table reservations are accounted for, polish the silver, proof the tables, clean the windows, restock the sugar caddies, stock wine, and the list goes on. Happy energetic service staff is all a manager can ask for so doing whatever it takes to make the night go smooth is extremely important. You don’t want your server coming up to you in a mundane monotone way; it’s unappealing. Smiling faces have a great deal to do with the vibe of a great dining room.
5 pm. Service starts. You immediately see me upon entering. I personally greet you and take you to your table. Over the years, I’ve developed close relationships with a lot of guests from and outside the area. I’ve handled their christenings up to graduations, first dates, rehearsal dinners, and anniversaries! It’s exciting and stressful at the same time. Keeping a smile on my face and intermingling with my guests is very important to me. Having a good time with every person is extremely important. Joking and catching up, doing tableside preparations, helping behind the bar, clearing and setting the table, managing the proper and timely flow of dinner orders going into the kitchen, and helping anywhere and everywhere I can is of the utmost importance and imperative to the success of my dining room. Most nights literally fly by in the blink of an eye.
After shift. Depending on the day it may be time to relax and enjoy a shift drink. Most likely a beer because it is relaxing to me. The day’s work is over, everyone made money, the guests were hopefully happy, the kitchen deserves a round of applause, and I can sit down and smile as I look forward to going home to my beautiful wife, going to bed, and starting fresh for a whole new adventure tomorrow.
Most importantly, it’s our guest, you, the fine diner that drives me as a general manager. I’m in it to make you happy.