When I was at McGill, I had this vision of what waitressing was for me: a part time job while I procastinated through four years of studying Finance and Entrepreneurship.
I never thought that one day I’d end up feeling more passion for service than I could muster for even a second in Finance. I won’t be too hard on Entrepreneurship. It has proven to be useful again and again.
At Frenchie, clients often ask me: “So what do you study while you work here?”.
I explain to them that this is in fact my full-time job, that I used to be destined for great things, that I went to study, got a job and then I got bored.
Then I explain that after returning to restaurant service and learning more and more about wine, I decided that a good life was not in fact behind a desk, dealing with oversized egos and crashing financial markets.
Reactions usually differ but rarely stray from looks of admiration, approval, confusion, disapproval and embarrassement. This is always a very entertaining part of my night. It tells me a lot about the people I have in front of me.
It happened again yesterday and it got me thinking…
Do waiters/waitresses/sommeliers realize that they are “marchands de bonheur”?
Because, isn’t that what is required of us?
Sure, we suggest this or that course, we pair wines, we pull up the chair, we hang coats, we smile, we are quick and efficient and courteous.
But at the end of the day, we are there to make the clients happy.
I first learned this at Club Chasse et Pêche in Montreal with some of the most talented and incredible people I’ve ever had the luck to work with. They are acute observers of their patrons. They are good listeners. They make good judgement calls. They are empathetic, funny and unique.
All these things make me realize that in order to succeed in making clients happy, you need of a combination of degrees from psychology to education with evening theater classes. You also have to be equipped with a great deal of humility and patience.
From all walks of life, we should probably all try it once: get on a restaurant floor and try to make the clients happy.
If that isn’t the school of life, I don’t know what is…