The Tasting Panel magazine

March 2015

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8  /  the tasting panel  /  march 2015 LETTER FROM THE EDITOR IN CHIEF The First Impression "You only have one opportunity to make a first impression." We've all heard this time and time again, most likely because it happens to be very true. Most peo- ple think about it in terms of personal relationships, since we are all quite concerned with how other people view us. But, it has significant meaning in business—specifically in restaurants. You could build a two-billion-dollar hotel. Fill the lobby with hand-carved imported marble, expensive rugs and costly artwork. But if the first person the guest sees is a room clerk with dirty fingernails, uncombed hair and a sauce stain on his tie, it could all be for naught. Even worse, the guy is preoc- cupied and projects an attitude of bored indifference. We're never coming back here again. Restaurants have the same issue. Hiring a hostess (or host) might be the most important decision after selecting a chef. Too often the restaurateur gives the job to one of the investors' recently graduated daughters or to some random person whose main attraction is that they come cheap. Being the person who greets customers at the door requires well-developed social skills. When people enter a restaurant for the first time, they are often disoriented and ill at ease. They need to be welcomed like a long-lost relative and put at ease immediately. The greeter should be attractive, outgoing and enthusiastic. Warmth and a smile go a long way towards making your guest feel welcome and comfortable. This good vibe will certainly translate into a memorable experience for the customer—not to mention a higher check. When I say "attractive," I'm not suggesting supermodels or matinee idols. Often people hired based on their physical attributes alone come with a pre-installed attitude that is both haughty and dismissive. This is counterproductive. Attractive is a whole package; it includes a pleasing appearance but is mainly defined by a friendly, gregarious and warm personality. So take a good, hard look at whomever you have greeting customers. Does this person (or persons) project a friendly, welcoming aura? If not, maybe you'd better re-assess. You wouldn't want to blow that all-important first impression.

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