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A holiday in Greece (Guest post)

A holiday in GreeceThis is a guest post by a dear friend of mine Courtney Shanahan. Recently Courtney went to Greece and had some great dining experiences. The reason this guest post is here today is because in my opinion, at the end she has nailed the essence of the service industry with her story. Thanks Courtney. (you can email Courtney at shanahan.courtney@gmail.com)

I just recently arrived back into Toronto after a recent vacation to Mykonos island in Greece.

On my second evening there I decided to spoil myself with an oceanfront dinner at a rather high-end establishment. The service was five-star. The dishes were authentic and flavorful.  With my meal of traditional greek salad (no lettuce and not pre-dressed), and grilled sardines. I was pairing a half bottle of Tsantali white. (Tsantali is the Greek equivalent to California’s mondavi). My only qualm was that after wine service the gentleman left the opened bottle of white wine on the table.

Not a biggie except for the fact that this was early evening and it had been 30 degrees and sunny all day. My wine was unchilled in about the three seconds it took for my brain to make the connection of the evening heat to chilled wine ratio. Naturally being a server myself I asked very pompously if I could get my wine chilled. The server said ” no problem” and went a got a big scoop of ice and put it in my glass of wine. I don’t even think I said anything, all I did was stare in shock with my mouth open like a bass fish. He then said “its nice, it makes it lighter”. I did start to get all huffed up. As if!  I’m a big Irish girl,  why ever would I want my wine lighter?  I don’t know if that even makes sense.

Then I looked at my server. He had the most delightful and eager smile on his face. Then I looked at the view. Gorgeous cliffs dotted with little white monasteries, overlooking a deep blue ocean. Then I thought about the hours of bartending in Toronto I had put in to even afford this trip. I then looked at that glass of wine and realized it was now chilled and it still had an alcoholic content. I could totally overlook what I thought to be a service horror.

The next day I had the luxury of being invited to dinner aboard a sailboat that was in the harbour. Again a beautiful dinner of greek salad, potatoes fried in olive oil, meatballs, and fresh grilled bread. The captain and host of the dinner was quite the character and entertained with wild stories of sailing through the Greek islands.  I was again drinking white wine. Strangely enough captain Angelo took the liberty of putting a bunch of ice cubes in my glass of wine. It dawned on me.

This is how its done here!

When that server did it the other night that was actually him giving great service. It made me address my own serving techniques. I feel that I have great service techniques and really like to keep a tight and orderly service. It made me realize in a city as multicultural as Toronto I serve guests from all over the world. It’s possible that at sometimes my guests think my service is awkward and different.

To me it brought up one of the most crucial points of how to be a good server. No matter how technical and perfect your service is,  we are there to make our guests happy. A good server will take the time to address each table individually and assess what their personal needs are going to be. The most perfect service for me is the one where my guest leaves happy and fulfilled. So actually when I think of it, that goofy gap toothed server in Greece was one of the best servers of my life.

Thanks again Courtney.

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