a toast to the host
valentines has now come and gone at my new restaurant (and everywhere else). it was busy, it was festive, and it went smoothly.
i was a host, my new weekend position. hosting’s not in my blood. i’d rather be a too-busy server than a too-bored host. that being said, i’ve long valued a host’s role in the restaurant. it is up to a host to dictate the flow of the restaurant, to prevent one server from becoming too swamped, to make getting to a table an easy affair for guests (it’s not always). a host hired because they’re a pretty sight for people entering the restaurant isn’t necessarily adept.
i enjoy the game of strategically packing reservations at their proper tables, of poking in walk-ins where possible, and of attempting to spread evenly spread guests in different sections of the restaurant. it’s surprisingly satisfying watching the evening unfold just as you’d planned, with the anonymous names you’ve been rearranging all afternoon having turned into faces munching foie gras on the table you sent them to.
a level of risk exists as well; a well-planned, seemingly smooth second turn of the restaurant can quickly become a cluster fuck at the door. all it takes is a table or two to linger over coffee or the kitchen to become swamped and slow down the production of food. in addition, people frequently arrive 15-20 minutes early, expecting to be able to have a table waiting. with an entryway as small and vital a throughway as ours, it doesn’t look good (or help the flow of service) to have more than three people hanging around.
creating a steady night for all, giving out little-to-no “i’m sorry you had to wait” champagne, and returning the right coats to the right guests will earn you praises and thanks from co-workers front and back. but end up with a couple of slow tables, guests that ask “can we sit there instead?” or people that can’t leave because the chef is talking to them, anything that can cause you to over seat a certain section…that overwhelmed server will be giving you smoldering glares, your manager will be asking “what went wrong there?”, and that chef will be badgering you about how much “forgive us” champagne (it’s not even real champagne, for god sakes) had to go out.
i’m not claiming it’s rocket science. at least as a host i get to wear whatever i want.