Monday, April 27, 2009

A Passion for Food and Wine is Essential

We continue to get really nice compliments about our staff so I thought I’d use this time in the blog to tell you a bit about what we do to get them ready and wine knowledgeable.

First and foremost it starts with the hiring process. When someone comes to us looking to work as a server, we look for 2 major traits first: passion for food and wine, and second: a passion to be in the service business. You might think we look for someone who has vast wine knowledge. Not so. We are more concerned that they love food and wine. We narrow down our selection to usually 2 candidates and then the management team does a group interview. We get to see the candidate answer questions from 4 people and see how they handle themselves in a group setting. This is what they will be doing every day. If they shine here and can handle the team, chances are good they will do well on the floor.

Once we give the nod to bring them on, they go through a month of training on wine education. They will taste every wine on the wine list. Vincent sits with them every day and they discuss and taste 6 to 8 wines a day. We ask them to take detailed notes and gain an understanding through outside research on where our wines are from and a bit about the region of origin. After the month of tasting they will “shadow” a server or our floor manager, Liz. They will assist with table service and usually by week 5 be ready to fly solo. Every server must be able to talk about any of our wines and provide an experience to the guest that is far more than taking orders and delivering food.

Periodically, as new wines come in Vincent tastes the entire staff and they discuss region of origin of each. Every month during an all staff meeting we focus on training and making sure everyone is up to date on new additions and deletions to the wine list. We work on sequence of service and focus on areas the management team observes needs to be reinforced or tweaked.

Most of you are probably not aware that for 4 years now we have volunteered to be visited twice a month by “secret shoppers”. Our staff does not know who these folks are and we receive detailed reports each month on both visits. We were involved in the design of the feedback questionnaire so the response details how well our staff delivers the Mercy experience to our guests. Each questionnaire is individually reviewed with the server and we use these results for ongoing training.

We are committed to ongoing improvement. It is our goal to deliver a great experience to our guests every time. We strive for sustained excellence and our commitment to hiring passionate people. Ongoing training is important to ensuring you have wonderful experience every time you visit us.

Glen Agritelley