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by Richard Saporito
This concept occurred to me after a restaurant service consulting session with the owner of a catering operation. His restaurant was in perfect order, incredibly neat and clean, better than I have seen in quite awhile.
In conversation, when I learned he was in the Navy for 4 years, it dawned on me that restaurant service procedure is very similar to naval ship service procedure-- without the danger elements that exist on a ship, of course.
For example, on a ship, there are tight, crammed spaces that crew members have to quickly and orderly work through [same as in a restaurant]. It is very important that the crew keeps the ship safe and sanitary [same as in a restaurant]. Being on the frontline, the crew must have the ability to respectfully give orders and take orders [same as in a restaurant].
In a restaurant, the waiter takes beverage and food orders from the customers, and sends these orders to the bar and kitchen. The waiter may also give orders to the busboys, runners, and even the host to help coordinate dining room service. [And vice versa]. At times, the waiter may have to receive orders or instructions from other staff and management. In this case, the waiter must be listening attentively because it may be concerning the customer's needs.
The crew on a naval ship must be in excellent physical condition [as waiters must be] to perform the heavy duties necessary to keep the ship afloat - somewhat similar to the heavy duties required for keeping a restaurant afloat. More importantly, there is a mindset that all tasks are performed while keeping the ship and crew members in mind as a unit. In other words, "playing as a team." or "service for the good of the ship" [same as in a restaurant].
Even the phrases used by a ship's crew while moving amongst the tight spaces and each other are the exact same as the phrases used in a restaurant such as: "coming thru", "behind you," "make a path." Use of these phrases will prevent accidents.
There is also the story that it's bad luck to whistle on a ship which is the same as in a restaurant kitchen. On a ship, the human whistle can get confused with the ship's whistle which sounds out important messages to the crew at different times of the day.
The more you think about the similarities between restaurant service procedure and naval ship service procedure, the more concepts you can discover!
Richard Saporito, founder of Topserve Consulting, has over 30 years of restaurant service experience in many large, diverse, and profitable New York City establishments ranging from small independents to large scale corporate operations. He uses this successful experience to help restaurants achieve their desired customer service goals understanding that it may be the difference between success and failure for those restaurants.
Topserve Consulting develops new restaurants and improves current restaurants with Training Programs and Consulting Services.
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