19 Nov Tips for Building a Happy Dining Culture
Dining is all about culture, both in the kitchen and the dining room. If your dining room is quiet without laughter and conversations, then you know you have a culture challenge.
The good news is, with time and focus, it’s easy to turn this around. Depending on the gravity of the culture problem, expect it to take about a quarter of focused attention. Here are some steps.
- Identify the sources for the culture challenges. The first place to look is in the kitchen and dining room leadership. Are your leaders effective communicators? Authoritarian or team builders? Do they work “in the trenches” with the staff or have no production involvement at all? Is it a sheer lack of training? Are your employees enthusiastic and proud of what they serve, or are they just going through the motions?
- Speaking of training, invest in a training process. Train for each skill—culinary and front of house dining. Training is perpetual: there should always be some form of ongoing review and coaching.
- Set your servers at ease. Front of house servers are often younger and untrained in aspects of serving. Serving older residents can be intimidating. Give them some ice-breaking tools to help them start conversations with your residents. Examples: A name badge that changes weekly and shares their hometown, favorite food, birth month, etc. This gives the residents something to ask the server about.
- Allow the kitchen to play music while working. It’s a mood changer.
- Perform a morning coffee walk-through. If you’re an executive in charge of the dining program, stroll through the kitchen from time to time with your coffee. Talk to the team and encourage them.
- Consider serving or working in the kitchen. This goes a long way to helping you understand the workday of your dining team. It’s fun and enlightening.
- Formalize a kudos program. Here at the Culinary Coach, we institute a kudos program that gives communities, residents and employees an easy way to recognize positive behaviors and reward them.
Cheers to happy diners and staff!