Rules of Engagement
Book Chapter: Rules of Engagement
My blog posting sabbatical is over. Lots more to follow soon.
I posted something similar to the following on Yelp Talk Boston yesterday:
I cringe when restaurateurs say, “I hate Yelp,” but I get it. They really hate the members of the community who don’t take their responsibility seriously. Yelpers who are uninformed and unfair give the powerful medium a bad name. Many posters exaggerate, embellish and lie, with no regard for their impact on the livelihoods of hard-working people. And unfortunately, the administration and moderation of many amateur sites, especially Yelp, is inept at weeding out the garbage.
[Yes, it's long, but please read the entire piece before joining the conversation below. It's great commentary.]
My favorite quote from Mc Slim’s post is included on his list of, “Common problems with amateur reviews,” where the reviewer:
“Betrays a lack of human empathy, often expressed by a condescending tone toward the staff. The reviewer doesn’t appear to have ever considered what it would be like to have strangers rating him on his annual job performance based on a single 90-minute meeting.” Touché.
Unless we continue to initiate, support, and contribute to these conversations, the proliferation of cowardly and irresponsible amateur reviews will continue. It’s worth the fight.
There are some thoughtful comments in response to Mc Slim’s piece on a separate Chowhound thread.
The Chowhound poster, ‘Tiamat’, decries the use of, ‘Enjoy!’, when a server delivers a dish. Here’s an excerpt:
“Don’t serve me a plate and smile then order me to ‘Enjoy!’ You can tell me you hope that I enjoy it, You can ask if it appears to my liking. Better, you can come back three or four minutes later and ask if I am enjoying the dish. Please DON’T command me to like it.”
Fuck off, Tiamat.
I posted Tiamat’s rant on Server Not Servant Facebook Page, and added the following comment:
I think you’re being a nitpicking asshole if you take issue with someone saying, ‘Enjoy.’ I agree with the poster who called the OP (Tiamat) out on Chowhound and said, “I see the ‘Enjoy’ as the shortened, ‘I wish you enjoyment’, not as a commend. I read it in the same vein as, ‘Bon appetite’ or ‘buen provencho’.” — Exactly!!!
Yes, these people are easy to hate, and stop smiling…
[Join the Server Not Servant conversation on Twitter @PatrickMBoston]
Book Chapter: Rules of Engagement
This post is dedicated to every current and former restaurant industry worker around the world.
During a recent interview with Imbibe and Inspire, I was forced to reflect upon what inspired me to launch this blog and write a book. One of my primary responses was working people, and the subculture of workers who serve the public. Also, the camaraderie between workers, their loyalty to each other, and their trust in me when they share their stories, inspires me. Having a mission I am deeply committed to and facilitating a conversation between workers and customers inspires me immensely.
The lure of the restaurant business is a strong one. After a brief respite, following the closure of my seasonal business on Cape Cod, I’ve jumped back into the business with both feet. I am currently bartending and managing at a new downtown gin mill/restaurant in Boston, jm Curley, named after Boston’s controversial four-term Mayor. Initially, I attended a few brainstorming and tasting sessions to help out, but was quickly sucked back into the fray after interacting with the management team and staff at jm Curley. I believe in what we are doing, and I love being part of a supportive culture where people take a lot of pride in what they do and have a lot of fun doing it.
There’s a lot to be said for loving what you do and trusting and respecting the people you work with.
Law & Order is the end product of several brainstorming sessions, emails, consults, texts, sidebars and iterations that included The Golden Rule, tipping guidelines, and several other whimsical suggestions, including proposed titles of, House Rules and Curley’s Commandments. Our intention was to reflect our culture and our collective industry experience in a playful, funny (and slightly irreverent) way. As evidenced by the reactions of our customers and a current Chowhound thread, an overwhelming majority of people ‘get it’, love it, and really appreciate the intent. There have been a few detractors, but that’s no surprise, given the fact some people will always be humorless, grumpy douchebags who aren’t happy unless they’re miserable or complaining about something. You know what that say about those who can’t take a joke…
The final question to Matt, What is your motto?
Matt Damon, “Don’t be a d-bag.”
Matt, you’re welcome to join us at jm Curley anytime. Dinner and drinks are on us…
- Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s date, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor his grub, nor his cocktail, his barstool, space, nor anything that is thy neighbour’s.
- No one on our staff goes by: Hey, Yo, Sonny, Tiger, Pal, Kid, Sport, Sweetie, Honey, Pork Chop, Chief, Champ, Captain, Boss, Buddy, Babe, Barkeep, Barmaid, Big Guy, Ma’am or Missy.
- No loud shrieking, shouting, bellowing, whining, barking, nose blowing, flatulence or obnoxious cellphone use.
- No groping, grab ass, mauling, sucking face, canoodling or heavy petting.
- We welcome all comments and suggestions, but refrain from, “You should…” We know we should, but we can’t do everything and please everyone. Open your own restaurant if you know how it should be done.
- The customer is NOT always right. However, the respectful customer is always right, and the asshole customer is always wrong.
- No foul language…
- Nobody’s perfect. Please alert us immediately if your expectations are not met. Exaggerating or lying on Yelp, Chowhound, or to anyone (after you leave) who can’t fix the problem, is for yellow-bellied cowards.
- It’s food and drink, not life and death. Don’t take yourself too seriously, we don’t.
- …Just don’t be a douchebag.
“Serving Up Neighborhood Justice”
I look forward to your comments, and please stop by and say hello when you’re in the neighborhood. Thank you.
Book Chapter: Rules of Engagement
“You are the LOSERS!!!” … “Change or be changed. Please, don’t force your termination for the holidays.”
The Herald piece goes on to say; The memo, posted Saturday in a private work area, included eight pages of mostly negative customer comments about Jacob Wirth from Yelp, an online review site. It was e-mailed to the Herald by Southie resident, Megan O’Connor, a Jacob Wirth server who quit in response to what she called the “unprofessional and appalling” memo.
A few observations after reading the article and the ‘entertaining’ comments on the Herald’s site:
- Posting a memo stating, “You are the LOSERS!!!!” is wrong on so many levels. If the service was poor, that’s not how you fix the problem. The memo is also not going to help recruiting new employees. (Kevin Fitzgerald-If the comment was taken out of proper context, I invite you to post the full memo and/or your comments below.)
- Stating that, “…it is very important that every customer have a satisfactory experience.” is not setting the bar very high. (Kevin Fitzgerald’s quote in the Herald.)
- Fostering a culture with great service and hospitality takes lots of training, role-playing, hard work, and great leadership by example.
It would be interesting to hear from Kevin Fitzgerald, his daughter, Megan O’Connor, Jacob Wirth employees, and customers who have been to the restaurant within the last 6 months to get the full story. Please pass this link along to invite comments from all interested parties. Thank you.
As always, please keep your comments respectful, on-topic and civil or they will be edited.