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November 19, 2001 12:12 AM quote 
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  techniques in fine dining serving
okay fellow servers and bartendars..i need everyone's help on this..i'm applying for a server position at a four star inn...40 hr./week , 5 dollars/hr plus tips..and benefits..yes, benefits in 3 months. Need this job..you dont know how much..well, you probably do! Been bartending for the last ten years..rusty on the fine dining experience. Any techniques you can offer/remind me of...any advice on how to secure this postion over someone else...is needed real bad! Forgot my shrimp forks, and serving from left? clearing from right is it? All you four star servers..can you help me get this job? I'm real good at what I do..behind the bar..need refresher course on fine dining table service..Taking all and any advice given from the best people in the world..that's all of us in this profession..ha...Please help me! My email is ying tomorrow..so need advice asap..sorry for such short notice..figure I might catch us late night servers online tonight...Thanks a bunch..All serious servers I know you all understand where I am and where I'm going..Thanks again...Love, Molly

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November 19, 2001 10:07 AM quote 
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Hey Molly,

Don't be so nervous in the interview. As a manager that is such a turn off. Granted I am not working in a four star business right now, I do have experience in fine dining as a bartender and server.

Don't be so focused on the details. Like where the shrimp fork goes. Let your attitude do the talking. Most places "Hire the attitude, train the skill". Availability and experience speak alot louder than book knowledge.

But if you want to show some knowledge read up on some web sites concerning fine dining. Don't offer the knowledge unless asked, as the place my do things differently.

More importantly, find out as much as you can about the place you are applying. Find questions to ask the interviewer that will show you know about the business. Things like Per Person Averages and ticket times are great questions to ask.

When I do an interview I like to probe for questions from the interviewee. If I get the "Well, are you hiring?" or "No, not really", that pretty much disqualifies you right away.

Good luck and I hope this helps.
November 21, 2001 4:00 AM quote 
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This was a big help. I usually am not nervous when applying and interview for a waitress or bartending job..since I'have been in teh business for nearly 20 years. But thank you for suggesting that I dont offer fine dining tips during the interview I think I just wanted to refresh myself ..so I could feel the confidecne when I walk in there. Since the last few, to 8 years my experience has been as a bar manager, and bartenidng in more causal atmostpeher. I know my experience talks for itself ..and it's going to be personality that they are lookig at. Do you actually know someone who has said Are you hiring? I did ask the assistant manageer if they had a postion open and which one it was that was fulltime? That's when he told me to apply the next morning/had to go thru a human resource departmetn of the Inn...it is run by a Hilton corporation. The place is a landmark hotel..very old..in town..What sells you on a person in an interview then?? What is per person averages? Ticket times? I dont know what this means? Is that how mcuh a peosn makes on tips? Is it okay to ask about benefits? Any other good quesiton you can suggest? I've heard of people offering to work a week for no pay to prove themselve an asset to the company...would this be a good idea or not? Stress the ol team work...bit? Thanks so much for answering my quesitons..means alot. My personal email is if it is easier to reply to this that way..I dont mind. I have recieve a few that way. found some good sites on fine dining technigques..learn a bit as well!! ha..Excuse the spelling..I'm typing real fast. You are a sweetheart for replying! Please suggest more questions..and explain ticket times..I'm so curious now... thank you again for your time..and paitence with me!!! love, Molly
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November 22, 2001 8:15 AM quote 
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Per Person Average is the average ticket total per person in the restaurant. Basically it is the average amount that each customer spends in one sitting. For fine dining establishments it will be higher, since menu prices are higher and more drinks ordered.

Ticket times are how long it takes the kitchen to get the food out from when the server rings in the order.

These aren't the only type questions that a potential employer might like to hear you ask. Any question that probes more into the actual running of the business will help impress them. Like weekly sales totals, food cost that kind of stuff. Just stay away from the "how much money will I make" kind of thing. Ask about how their stations are set up or do they rotate tables? How many servers work the floor on a typical shift? Do they use wine stewards to serve bottles? stuff like that.

Asking if they are higher to get an interview wasn't a bad move, but stay away from that in an interview, its an instant turn off. If they want to hire you they will but don't expect to get the job on the first interview unless they are really needing people right away. Timing is everything. IS this a seasonal business? that might be another good question to ask.

Benefits are a great question to ask about. Not only does it show potential interest in long term employment, it gives the interviewer a chance to "toot their own horn" so to speak. The more the interviewer talks the better the outcome for you. Use the question session to get them talking. When I was applying for my current position, I liked starting my questions off with "How long have you been with the company" then the interviewer will give you their career history and also give you more potential questions.

The hardest question to answer is the "where to you see yourself in 5 years". Stay away from career oriented answers here. Say something like "owning my own home, and progressing in this industry". they love that stuff. This might not come up in a server interview but you never know.

An important point is to not just ask a question but to respond to their answer. Use a part of their answer and either follow up or say you like that about the company. Like if they say you qualify for health benefits after 6 months say "Sounds like you guys like to take care of your dedicated employees, I like that."

Good luck,
Greg
November 24, 2001 2:41 PM quote 
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Hey Molly....here are some tips I have learned throughout the years of working in fine dining restaurants:
Learn to refine your vocabulary...
Drinks are "Beverages"
"Yes" is replaced with "Absolutely"
Use descriptive words when describing the entrees to them...use words such as "smothered", "lavishly" etc.
Erase "Ok", "Uh huh" and "Yeah" from your vocab.
"Sir" and "Miss" is how you should address them....women take offence to "Madam".
Learn to nod your head in response instead of being overly chatty...fine dining looks down upon chattiness.
And ALWAYS ALWAYS ask the women what they would like first...give them their drinks first, their dinners first, clean up their plates first.
Learn what wines your establishment has and which meals they go with....knowing these will make you look like your full of knowledge and very professional, its also a big one on improving your tip!
And last but not least learn how to upsell without being tacky.....its an art and difficult to do non-chalantly(sp?) but when you have it down you'll reap the benefits!!

Hope this helps!!!!!
November 25, 2001 9:49 PM quote 
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Saw your E-mail to me, but thought I'd reply on the Forum too. You have some great advice from great experts so far. Here is mine...
Believe it or not you are soooo qualified for this job. For you to stay in the business this long - espically the bar business speaks volumes. Where else can you wait on all walks of life and learn about people and how to work your tips (your living)? I just changed jobs and thought "Oh, my God I can't do this or they are so professional etc.." You know what? It is just like any place else- just a different routine. The new place still has the staff that likes to go out after work and complain, the new place still has the staff that has clicks and favorites to the boss, the new place still has back of the house equipment that doesn't work right and the new place is scary. Can you remember when you started at your old place? You can do this!!! Let us know!!
November 28, 2001 1:09 PM quote 
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Hi Molly,

I recommend getting the book "The Waiting Game". It's a quick and easy read and will give you all the details you are looking for... and more! Pick it up at: www.thewaitinggame.com. Good luck... you'll do great!

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Cindy
November 29, 2001 5:53 AM quote 
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To Irondell, foodmgt, ccrusady, kellee...hope i spelled this correctly..I GOT THE JOB...thank you ...all of you...I couldnt of done w/ out ya..ha...I so appreciate all your help seriously..one thing i know for sure..is you can always count on us servers...managers, and bar owners..we are a breed in and of itself..rare one...ya all came to help me when I needed it..and i cant thank you enough...hope i can be of help to anyone in the future as you were to me..
thanks again..
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