I have worked more shifts as a host this year than as a bartender, and I genuinely believe that it has helped me grow in ways that I would not have by solely bartending.
This notion of hosting stems from the important and simple step of hospitality: to welcome someone in. Be it your home, bar, or store, a warm welcome is essential to put people ease and to allow them to settle in and enjoy all the other wonders you have to offer. But first, “Hello.” “Welcome.” "Thank you so much for choosing to celebrate with us tonight.”
The welcome begins at Oriole with a smile and assurance that "Yes, this is the entrance to a two-Michelin starred restaurant," and "Yes, this is an elevator that we are standing in." Tensions soften as we offer to take a jacket or heavy work bag. Then, there is the offer of a little cocktail: spiked or spiritfree.
I find at times in the midst of service behind the bar, that the welcome is not as warm as it could be. It is more calculated, and little nuances that make this first interaction so special are left to the wayside in a flurry of questions, order-taking, and drink-making.
Having the opportunity to host at Oriole this past year has taught me, and reminded me of the invaluable intangibles of our industry. One of the most important, which I am working on, is listening. Not just hearing, but truly listening.
Listen to remember, so that after getting the names of their children, you may escort the guests to their table, answer questions about the menu, get their water preferences, and remember each piece of information to pass on to the server who takes the reigns for the rest of their experience. That is the key.
Our industry relies on relationships, and relationship building starts at the front door, or sometimes, in the elevator.
Remember: always be ready. Reset. Think of how you would want to be greeted as you walk into a new and exciting eating and drinking adventure.