Restaurant Servers Classification

YELP & ZAGAT Reviews May Not Be Genuine

YELP & ZAGAT Reviews May Not Be Genuine

I distrust many YELP and ZAGAT reviews.  You may think this is a strange comment coming from a restauranteur who appreciates comments from his clients.  While some customer comments are genuine, many comments are contrived.  For example, you will see YELP ratings ranging from 0 to 5 stars for a particular restaurant.  But, who gave the 5 stars?  If you read the reviews carefully and understand the restaurant business, you will notice that some of the 5 star ratings give too many details, that only an owner, manager, or employee would know.  So, why would they write the review posing as a customer and give the restaurant a high rating?  To get you into the restaurant and make you spend your hard earned money.  The opposite occurs with a restaurant’s competitors…they post unfounded, malicious comments to discourage customers from patronizing the establishment.

To get an accurate assessment I read the reviews and disregard the most extreme.  This takes time, sometimes more than I have..which is why I prefer Michelin’s reviews.  The inspectors are objective; they check the food, service, and ambience, including the restrooms.  Michelin rates casual restaurants (check out the fork ratings), as well as the high ends (generally the “star” ratings). An exception is the cafetería-type restaurant in Hong Kong’s (more like Kowloon)Tim Ho Wan (the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant with bare tables!)

Is Blaming Restaurant Failures on the Economy a Red Herring?

Sacramento area restaurant failures are not due to the ECONOMY. If it was the Economy, Restaurants  like the French Laundry, Biba or Cafe Marika would be closed by NOW.  During many years of discussions over coffee or drinks, a dear friend and I (with over 70 years combined experience in the restaurant business) predicted over 25 eventual Restaurant Failures. The last being Good Eats and before that, Spin Burger, 33rd St. Bistro on 16th and K St.’s, Table 260, 55 Degrees, and my oldest prediction was Koya’s in the Pavilions. These failures were blamed on “The Economy”. Rather, maybe the failures were because of something they had much more control over. Maybe the owners didn’t understand the Restaurant Industry. It’s called the Hospitality Industry for a reason. Restaurants are supposed to treat their customers like dinner guests at home. They should be concerned about the guests’ happiness and enjoyment of the evening. That’s what Biba and the other successful restaurants do.

Most new restaurants don’t hire Hosts; they hire managers. Managers manage the books rather than the dining room. If the managers think the waiters/servers are taking care of the guests they are likely wrong…especially when hiring untrained staff with no or little knowledge of manners and etiquette. Being a consummate Host or Hostess will get you a following of loving customers.

Common Sense “What all True waiters should have”

This is something that Scott from Biba’s sent me. I thought maybe this can help many present and future waiters.

We don’t know who the author is, but Thank You.

An Obituary printed in the London Times

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years.  No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape.  He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:

-Knowing when to come in out of the rain;

-Why the early bird gets the worm;

-Life isn’t always fair;

-and maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don’t spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

SERVICE: It’s like one leg of a three legged stool, You need all three legs, Food, Ambience, Service.

“Service” is the only thing that is stopping Sacramento from becoming a top culinary center like Napa or San Francisco, or Portland.

Yes, I did say Portland.

We don’t train the staff long enough or correctly here in Sacramento.

Let me give you will give you some examples.

How about

When a new waitress comes up to a bartender and asks him that a “gentleman wants something on the rocks” and she “Asked what are rocks.


When you go into a bar and see your favorite gin and then asked the bartender that you want a martini made from it. And, she tells you that they don’t carry that gin, but you see it on the shelf. And then you argue with her until, you point out to her that gin that is on the shelf.



Then the same a bartender gets the bottle down and asked the other bartender “How to make a martini.”


When the waiter brings out dishes of food and asks, “Who gets what”?


When waits staff addresses a group of ladies “Guys“?


Professional Waiter are Rare, Train to be one!

­I compliment Blair Anthony Robertson on his keen observation of the host who handled food-ladened plates and played with her hair. Her actions were unhygienic and should not be accepted by any customer. Shame on Mr. Paul Mann for dismissing the behavior.

Mr. Robertson is correct that no server should touch their face or hair while they are handling food. As a professional waiter for over 30 years and the owner of First Class Waiter (training waiters and front of the house staff) my training programs emphasize hygiene, manners, etiquette, and grace. The programs are based on the sound training I received, experience, and information from the health and safety industry. I invite Mr. Mann and others to peruse the fablefromthetable.com web site to learn about service and correct ways to serve restaurant patrons. The food service/restaurant business is complex in that success rests on the right location, food, safety, and well-trained staff who are clean and handle food properly. Handling multiple responsibilities involves more than showing-off; staff should be properly trained to avoid faux pas such as observed by Mr. Robertson.

RACISM at its worst (in public)

I have to tell you a story of a recently observed incident. I was flying back from LA and saw something I thought I would not see on the West Coast.  The two gentlemen sitting one row ahead of me were trying to keep the center seat open, as many people do on airplanes. However, the flight was full and after a while a young woman asked the gentlemen if the center seat was available. The gentlemen said no, and explained that it was saved. She proceeded to the row I was sitting in and asked the lady on the isle and me if the center seat was available. We said it was. As the young woman was getting herself situated another young woman approached the two gentlemen in front and asked if the seat between them was available (you know where this is going); they very willingly said YES!  From the banter between the gentlemen and the newly arrived woman it was obvious they had not met before that moment. The young woman entering my row was stunned half way through her seating motion. We looked at each other and I said in my loudest voice (without yelling) “we know why she got that chair”. She smiled at me and by her expression I knew this was not the first time she had experienced this type of treatment. Can you figure out the rest of the story? Yes…the first woman was black and the second was white. I told the black woman that I would write about the incident on my blog.

Manners matters

By  Ann Martin Rolke

Gilbert Lagunas has been a professional waiter for 30 years.  He now runs First Class Waiter, a training consultancy, and a blog about service at http://fablesfromthetable.com.  I asked him about what makes a good waiter.

“Two things right off the bat would be manners and etiquette.” I think that’s what’s really missing in a lot of waiters these days.  They’re young and weren’t brought up with a lot of  etiquette.  My collection of manners and etiquette  books consist of about 35.

“I think the Biba’s is probably the best service in Sacramento.  Even the general manager says they need polishing from time to time, though, so  everybody needs it.  Training and having the knowledge to learn things is important.

“I’m hoping to change things so that waiters have respect. I want to have guests complain if they have bad service.  You should talk to the waiter when you get treated badly.”

This appeared in News and Review Magazine, dining> corner table.   Published 4/15/10

Name change will not help a Restaurant… Why NOT?

Bistro 33 Midtown

1020 16th St.

Sacramento California


bistro 33.com

Lunch & Dinner

Monday through Friday

13% TIP

It is interesting that there are different interpretations of good service among the professionals in the restaurant and hospitality industry in Northern California. After meeting and being associated with restaurant owners and managers, I have found that often, but not always, my ideas of good service is very different from theirs.

I know, through experience, that many owners and managers think training dining room staff means teaching servers the about products used in the kitchen, the menu items, and can the restaurant computer systems. Many do not take the time to ensure their staff also practice the basic skills of being good waiters and waitresses. These skills include taking a genuine interest in the restaurant, basic etiquette and “reading” the customer to ensure the service provided is the service the customer expects or requires.

Based on my experience at Bistro 33 Midtown, I have found it to be a fine destination for a quick and generally tasty meal in a trendy and attractive environment.  However, if you and your guest care for attentive and informed service, you may be disappointed.

I’m Entitled to my GOD-GIVEN 20% TIP

After dropping out of college, I took a job at an engineering firm; about three and half years later they went under.  Having some money, I went to New York City to visit a friend I met in Sacramento.  The friend Francis had been working in four-star restaurants since he was 15 and his father owned a two-star restaurant off Park Avenue.  The day after I arrived Francis hijacked me, in a sense, to replace a fired busboy at the restaurant where he worked.  The only instructions were that food is served from the left and finished dishes were removed from the right; any cocktails or beverages were served from the right and removed from the right… And I was to talk to no one!  I was lucky to start as a bus boy; at that time starting from the bottom usually meant beginning a restaurant career as a dishwasher.