By Len Panaggio
Summer is in our rear view mirror and winter is in our sights. Over the summer as I have traveled around the state enjoying our wonderful restaurants, a few thoughts come to mind. For the most part, I must say that our restaurant scene is extraordinary and what they do daily is remarkable.
But, along the way, a few sources of irritation have popped up. I want to share with you some that really get under my skin. As we are catching our breath, think about these, in no particular order.
- Hair: long hair that is free to flow, behind the bar or on the service floor. It is just plain unsanitary. Even worse is when the bartender or server is constantly removing it from his/her face with her hands and then touching a glass, silverware, or perish the thought, food. Or, better yet, when he or she decides to fix it, on the service floor. Go to the rest room and fix yourself out of public view! Put your lip gloss on in there as well!
- Cell phones: I have written about this before and cell phone use by employees, while on the job, is still rampant. Some places are really good about creating a no-phone policy while an employee is at work, and that is a benefit to the guest. But for those of you who wish to ignore the fact that they are a detriment to service, wake up. Nothing is worse than waiting for a bartender to finish up what he or she is doing on the phone rather than doing what he or she is supposed to be doing—taking care of the needs of guests!
- Warm red wine: I know, I know, it is difficult to have it chilled behind a bar to pour, but at least make your staff aware of alternatives so that one can enjoy a cabernet at 62 degrees rather than 75. Now, sticking it in the ice bin where they are using the ice to make drinks is not an alternative, yet it continues to happen and in this day and age that is simply not acceptable. Clearly, for wines by-the-bottle, having them stored in a proper refrigeration unit addresses the problem.
- Wobbly bar stools: At least remove them from the bar until you are able to repair them. Not only are they a safety hazard, but a wobbly stool speaks volumes about how you operate.
- Out-of-stocks: yes, it does happen. If you or the distributor is out of the product, take it off the list. If you can’t do that in a timely fashion, communicate to your staff that the product is temporarily out. And, block it on your POS.
- Unshaven staff: really? If they worked in a bank, they wouldn’t show up with a five-o’clock shadow, so why is it acceptable in
- Bar rags that are used for more than they are designed for: simply disgusting. Bar rags are designed to wipe bars down, period.
- Idle gossip: we don’t need to hear about the latest scandal going on inside or outside the restaurant. And even worse, discussions about gratuities is a major violation.
These are just a few of my biggest pet peeves and I’m sure that I’m not alone. Remember, the most important resource is our human resource. For the most part, they are young and, in many cases, don’t know better. It is incumbent upon management to hammer these basic concepts into their collective thought process; our guests deserve it.
Len Panaggio’s career in food and wine spans more than three decades as an owner and as a beverage director at some of the top restaurants in Rhode Island. Currently a hospitality consultant, Len is a graduate of the University of Rhode Island and has attended the Culinary Institute of America Master Sommelier program and the Sterling School of Service and Hospitality.