Staff training has always been the unconquerable beast in every restaurant owner’s mind. Inadequate training can ruin the rhythmic flow of a perfect dinner service in a nano second and the night will be impossible to salvage. But, we are the only ones to blame for staff inefficiencies. It is almost impossible to focus on the inabilities of a server, a busser, or a host if we have not built the foundation in our training program and the infrastructure in our organization to lead new hires and provide them with the steps to success.
On my second visit to Buddakan, Stephen Starr’s Thai restaurant in
Of course I couldn’t let that happen. I had to jump into the conversation and ask foolish questions to gauge the fluster factor in the newbie. Nothing is worse than being drilled by a customer when you have not been sanctioned as ready for action.
After a verbal volley that lasted throughout the courses of the meal I realized that one of Starr’s successes lies in his training program.
Training was always one of my weakest points in the business. And although my restaurants were known for exceptional service, I had little to do with that. Actually, I had nothing to do with that. Kranston was in charge of the front of the house and the employees who ran it ad she oversaw that the training program was extensive. And, she did a tremendous job of packing what now appear to be boxes of information into a week long training session. By Starr’s standards a week wouldn’t get you past the water glass filling course. Or what you offer when selling water.
According to Heather the training course is six weeks long. And, a server is not allowed to step into the real world of the dining room until the have completed the course and had a full tasting test of the menu. Food education is essential to Starr’s operation and staff.
When I asked if anyone ever got called to duty – a server calls in sick, or quits and the dining room is short one server- except for the new guy- early and the answer was absolutely not.
That I believe is one of the differences between a staff that works together in continual rhythm and one which falters frequently. The instant reaction of any restaurant owner is to pull in the new server as soon as possible whether training is completed or not. We all assume that we can pick up the training the next day, or the next week, or the next month.
That never happens. Once a server tastes the tips of the real world, training becomes secondary and will most likely never be completed.
Starr’s six week training mandate is one of astronomical proportion. And, I am sure that it is probably one of the most extensive in the business. It also isn’t feasible for every restaurant owner to have a training course that last six weeks. Yet, if you are to be success and become known for the one element that most restaurant suffer from- professional, consistent service, training needs to be developed by people who know how to do more than just pick up a hotplate and deliver it before it gets too cold.