The essence of hospitality – amazing service staff

I’ve often wondered what keeps great hospitality business going for many years. Obviously having good staff, terrific service, great food and sound business practices all play a part. In this series I will explore all four of these, based on my experience with each one in relation to my recent visit to Adelaide, The Barossa Valley and Sydney.

After a few years in an industry you gain an appreciation for what is needed to work effectively and operate within it long-term. Factors such as humility, discretion, friendliness and politeness are highly valued by employers. These soft skills are hard to teach so workers need to learn the secret that lies behind service and how it is provided.

In Adelaide we visited Press Food & Wine just on the off chance that it would be a good place to eat on our first night. It was very cold that night but thankfully it was just near our hotel, so we braved the cold and wind and ventured out.

Press is in an old building that has been converted to multi-use restaurant and bar. The bottom floor comprises a mixed communal dining space and kitchen while there is a bar, small and large individual tables and banquettes upstairs. Diners who do not have a booking are seated downstairs at one of the communal tables: upstairs is for diners who have booked where they are accommodated more formally. There are no tablecloths downstairs, but there are upstairs, giving the high-ceilinged space a more intimate, classy atmosphere.

But it’s the staff that makes the place. We were greeted quickly and asked whether we had a booking. We didn’t.  So the waiter offered us the choice of a large centre or side-of-room table. They were all high communal tables and the seating was a stool. We were offered a menu and drinks list and the evening flowed from there. The service, food, cocktail and wine lists were all excellent but it was the people who stood out as the shining stars on the night.

What made the experience so special was the attitude of the staff. Warm and welcoming, they made the evening special, not by performing tricks or giving things away but for their presence and friendly approach. They had the X Factor, a trait so hard to find when recruiting staff for the hospitality industry.

Towards the end of the evening we were offered a tour of the upper floor so that we could see the whole place for ourselves. It was a welcome finishing touch and to me, it highlighted the value of learning about customer service in hospitality training. This can be formally taught, but more often than not, it comes from exposure to well-meaning supervisors, your peers and work mates.

Press* food & wine is at 40 Waymouth Street Adelaide SA 5000
By Joe Farrelly – Assistant Director, Academic Division (VET)
** Be on look-out for the next blog hospitality series from Joe **