Before we get into the title of this article I think it necessary to lay a foundation for those who have never been in the food and beverage business. In the food and beverage business, as those involved in it know, there is usually a riff (I use the term riff loosely) that runs between the Front Of the House (Servers, Server Assistants, Managers, etc.) and Back Of the House (Chefs, Cooks, Dishwashers, etc.). Unfortunately, upper management in both departments often share this mindset as well. Why is this riff so prevalent in restaurants, bars, hotels and every other food service related properties? Please know, these spats obviously do not happen everywhere, but you would be surprised where and when it does happen. Hopefully you have no idea it is going on. However, I believe it all stems from the dreaded word EGO. The servers believe it is their service that wins the day, on the other hand, the Chefs believe it is their food that wins the day. Petty situation to those looking in but believe me not to those good souls in the heat of the moment. Of course, disgruntled servers and Chefs duking it out during service is never a good thing. (I have seen plates, pots and pans, and even knives thrown around in some of the more heated battles.)
We all know this is something that cannot be tolerated or shall I say should not be tolerated by upper management or an Executive Chef. Personally I believe it all starts at the top as with any organization. I have seen many successful and smooth running operations and to those I applaud you, but more often than not I see those at the top who wonder why this riff is always there. Being in the consulting business, I share what has worked for me and what I have seen work for others over the 24 year span of my food and beverage career.
My personal experience has shown that to be the best Executive Chef, as well as the best Food and Beverage Director, you must ensure both FOH and BOH are working as one, in EVERY area. *I must interject this fact, I have seen many Chef driven and Chef owned restaurants suffer from the FOH and BOH riff more than most. I believe the Chef who owns the restaurant is still in the mindset that he must protect his BOH team at all cost. Crazy but true at times. All I want to see is every guest treated like royalty no matter what the cuisine, number of stars/diamonds, or what price point. It is the job of every Executive Chef and Food and Beverage Director to ensure this gets done. I have seen some amazing Executive Chefs and Food & Beverage Directors who have taught me some amazing things. When I look back at the great ones I must say I had and still have a great deal of RESPECT for them.
Respect is the number one factor in getting the teams to work as one. For myself I always want people to respect me for who I am and not because I am the boss. Nobody likes a boss!!! Upper management, in both departments, must learn that their property, revenue stream, and guest satisfaction will automatically grow if teams are respected and individual praise is given on a daily basis when needed. Everybody likes to feel special, respected, welcomed, and most of all appreciated. Servers like to be educated on the food and wine and the Chefs and cooks should be educated on the service aspect as well. That is key, this way respect grows as everyone knows what the other person’s job entails.
All the best and remember – Outstanding fare and service always brings joy and smiles!