1 Identify the person in charge. “;ere’s always omeone in charge of a table, whether it’s the host
or hostess of the meal or the senior-ranking person,”
says Smith. “;is generally tends to be the person who is
paying the bill, so it behooves the waitsta; to be able to
identify him, since he’ll set the tone for what’s happening
at the table.” ;is person is usually the first to speak, perhaps asking about specials, Smith notes, and is generally
more proactive in the initial interaction with the waitsta;.
2 Decode the dynamics of the table. ;e better a server understands the dynamics of a table, the
better he can serve guests. “Is this a social meal, with
the group doing a lot of drinking, or is it a quick lunch
or nonalcoholic dinner?” Smith asks. “;ese are things
I need to know as a server because they a;ect the time
guests will spend at the table, the bill amount, etc.”
3 Recognize the symmetry of dining. “;e sym- metry of dining states that whatever the host does,
the guests follow suit,” Smith says. When the host orders
a cocktail, for example, the others will usually follow. If
the host orders soup before the meal, the guests will likely
order some kind of appetizer, too.
4 Monitor the table’s mood. ;ere are signals that will let you know if guests are having a good time
or not. “Look for signs such as smiling, relaxed bodies,
relaxed shoulders, leaning back, etc.,” Smith advises. “Red
flags should go up when shoulders are raised, guests are
leaning forward, or voices are rising because they’ve had
too much to drink and they haven’t had anything in their
stomachs yet. ;ese things will a;ect the tables around
them and the ambience in the restaurant.
“Do guests look bored?” Smith adds. “Are their eyes
darting around the restaurant? Are they constantly looking toward the kitchen? Are they shifting around a lot?
;is isn’t a game of poker—people tend to be fairly
obvious in their body language. Signals like these should
prompt waitsta; to ask what they can do to help—more
drinks, a complimentary bread basket, checking with the
kitchen, etc. If there’s a table with children, ask if they’d
like rolls or the children’s meals first to help keep them
from getting bored or disruptive.”
Like these servers at Blaze Pizza, your waitstaff should be friendly, but not
too friendly, always ready to help and keen students of table dynamics.
Creating a lively
atmosphere is a key
mission for servers
at Blue Moon Pizza