I work at a casual, creative restaurant. We welcome everyone into our dining room and hope you become family. As some places may turn their heads to you, we do not. I’ve come across a lot of people over the years, and I’ve learned a lot over these years by example from some great mentors not to judge a book by its cover. To be blunt, you came here knowing what we are all about, and your money is green just like everyone’s blood is red.
Years ago, I worked at a tablecloth fine dining establishment that closed due to the owner getting sick. It was a great eight years, and I learned a lot from a great man during those years. He took a chance on a raw server and started the grooming process to become what I am today. This is the story of the first time I learned not to judge.
I believe it was a casual Sunday. We were open seven days a week with limited dinner hours on Sundays. The evening was typical — a few tables, I worked with one other server, and we bartended for ourselves which is normal for expected nights like this one. At some point in the evening, a gentleman walks in and approaches our host stand by himself, dressed in sweatpants, a sweatshirt, and sneakers. My boss and the owner of the restaurant, as usual, were there to greet his guest with a smile. A learning experience at its finest, I watched him seat our guest in the dining room in the middle of all of the other guests.
Now, I was very green at the time, and I remember to this day my mentor telling me to make sure I take great care of this man. I treated him like every other guest as my boss took the time to speak to him during the meal, which was standard practice (and the same thing I do at Kevin’s now). His dinner was normal, he finished and left, and I didn’t think anything of it.
At the end of the night, while my boss and I were having a drink, this man came up in conversation. He told me never to judge a book by its cover. It turned out the man was the head of a department of an out-of-area hospital, and he spent the day moving into his new house because he had just been transferred to this area. The man just wanted a nice meal he was accustomed to and understood the way he looked, apologized, and dined. That man still frequents area restaurants and will never leave my mind when I look at any of my guests at Kevin’s. It’s one story of many I’ve come to be a part of over the years.
Now, as a manager, it’s up to me to guide the staff into understanding that everyone is welcome to the restaurant. Everyone should be treated with the same respect as the table sitting next to them. Everyone is here to have a great time, and who cares what they look like!
This is my favorite story — it teaches humility, and in the hospitality business, humility can a lot of times fly by the wayside. It keeps me in check and it’s something I will never forget. Treat every guest equally; every person that dines with me is the most special guest of the night.