Wine and service: how to give the best service at breakfast

05 December 2013
Wine and service: how to give the best service at breakfast

Do your guests always have the best start to the day? Restaurateur Will Smith explains how to get the service balance right at breakfast

During the summer I had the good fortune to find myself enjoying a rather grand breakfast at the glorious Gleneagles hotel, and as I tucked into a little too much bacon and eggs, I enjoyed surveying the scene around me.

Breakfast is one of the trickiest restaurant services in which to get the correct level of interaction, engagement and bonhomie from a team, without being overwhelming for a guest, whose mood can vary from the fresh, bright and breezy to the clouded and subdued. A well trained and motivated team under the guidance of strong, focused management will show.

The joy of a hotel breakfast for the guest is usually the vast array of items to choose from, often things they might not eat at home, and nearly always more food than they really need. This aspect of a hotel breakfast is a real challenge to the waiter. Not everyone wants drip coffee nowadays; often it'll be a double macchiato with skimmed milk; bacon may need to be crispy; sausages gluten-free. The list goes on.

The buffet must remain stocked, the plates hot, the juices replenished and the tables relayed quickly. The waiter's work is a dance and often a bit of a tightrope walk, while all the time maintaining grace and elegance, a warm smile and the all-important eye contact.

Throw into the mix all the pleasure of little children; this is where a team will stand out, engaging with them and coming down to their level. It'll mean everything to them and so much more to the parents.

Offering truly great service and hospitality is about giving 100%. Knowing how to give that 100% is about training and communication from the management team. We all remember how we are made to feel, and I remember that breakfast for how I was made to feel. Ask me about the specials or what the waiters might have said to me: I haven't a clue. Put simply, getting your team to connect with a guest will result not only in happy diners but also in happy employees.

If you need help to develop your team, contact Will

Five key features of successful service

  • Clear communication
  • A team trained to engage with guests
  • Hands-on management of the room
  • Thorough product knowledge
  • Warmth, eye contact and a smile

How to get the most from front of house staff

Too often front of house staff simply go through the motions and if challenged, might admit that they are only giving 90% to the job. What they are really doing is only giving 10%. The bit that requires no heart, passion and effort is achieved with little or no thought.

The most important 90% is the part that requires a team member to care and show real empathy and understanding for the guest. You really have to want to do this.

An example in its simplest form might be a greeter seating a guest. They might well say good morning, smile weakly and walk you to your table with the menu; all seems fine. This though is 10%. The missing 90% is the warmth and eye contact, the relaxed easy chatter, pulling out of the table or the chairs, the careful placing of the menu with an explanation of how the breakfast service works. These aspects cost nothing but effort, yet they are the factors that make a real difference. They are the actions that your guests will remember.

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