The Art of the Maître D

Do you get the service you should when dining out in a restaurant? Does bad service spoil the joy even if the food is good? Maybe it’s time to focus on the service rather than the cult of the celebrity chef…

As a UK audience our appetite for finding out about cooking, baking, celebrity chefs, and the restaurant industry as a whole is now a true phenomenon. The recent BBC television programme ‘The Restaurant Man’ following start up restaurant businesses with the help of multiple restaurant owner Russell Norman, along with programmes like Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, are testament to our increased interest and need for insight into the dining experience.

Perhaps we all harbor a little dream of owning our own pub or restaurant somewhere lovely and making a living, however these programmes most definitely help us to understand the difficulties involved.

We all love eating out and according to Mintel research it’s estimated that British consumers spent £32 billion in 2013 dining out. However, Mintel’s research into consumer behaviour has also seen a decline in the number of times Brits are eating out compared to a year ago, and approximately a quarter of consumers claimed they have reduced the amount they spend when they do visit a restaurant. ( However the research organisation does suggest that a ‘renewed focus on the basic principle of emphasising the ‘experience of eating out, should help operators reclaim market share’.

With this in mind, the role at ‘front of house’ in restaurants could in fact be more important than simply the food. The head waiter or maître d’ is indeed the ‘point of sale’ marketer for any restaurant; they help to draw customers in, put them at ease and facilitate their ability to enjoy the overall dining experience in the aim of continued custom.

 “There’s a real art to managing the dining experience and it’s vastly underestimated. A maître d’ needs to know everything about their customer; have an excellent memory, top diplomacy skills and an ability to manage both kitchen and restaurant,” says our very own Vincent Gerbreau, maître d’, Retro Bistrot

This level of diplomacy between customer and kitchen must truly be an art in itself, and maybe it’s the meet and greet we remember more than the food itself. As long as the food is at a good standard, the overall package of the experience of dining at the restaurant has to also be good to generate a lasting impression. This is often overlooked in the television programmes to the detriment of the restaurants being shown. It’s something the experienced restaurateurs know when then offer advice, that front of house has to be professional and in constant communication with the kitchen about the needs of the customers. This juggling act is not an easy task at all and something to truly marvel at when done well.

Come and marvel at our be-quiffed Retro Bistrot maître d’ today, and try some of our exquisite food while you’re here, we promise you a great experience that will have you coming back for more. We weren’t awarded Highly Commended for Best Service in the local Time & Leisure Food and Drink Awards for nothing!


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