Yesterday I had the privilege of lunch at Monica Galetti’s newly opened Mere in Charlotte Street, a restaurant where every single decision in the design and build has been made with thought, care and experience. And it made me think about the art of service and how all elements such as design play into the overall experience.
In London, we are used to flying through our meals, we have barely sat down when the waiter is already asking us what we would like to order. This is an attempt to demonstrate an efficient restaurant, an urgency of service and ultimately to turn the table so that we restauranteurs can pay our exorbitant rents and business rates.
However, there is an art to service which we have lost, even in places as beautiful as Mere and I think it is important to remember.
Danny Meyer said ‘Anything that unnecessarily disrupts a guest’s time with his or her companion or disrupts the enjoyment of a meal undermines service.’
Social intelligence is key in our industry, if people are having a good ol’ catch up, we should not be repeatedly asking them what to order. There are subtle cues that we should be looking for to know what people need. In the time they spend with you, your guest should feel like the time passes so quickly and yet it feels like forever.
Recently Angela Duckworth author of ‘Grit – The Power of Passion and Perseverance’ introduced me to the idea of flow – the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does.
Flow is something that we should feel during service as restaurateurs but also something we should be able to see in our guests. Interruptions and the urgency of service should be anything but, they should be effortless and unnoticeable and uplifting.