How does Patrick O'Connell define great service?
Service — like all other aspects of this business — is something where you never really arrive. You could be doing it for 20 years and you’re still working toward perfecting it because it’s about people and it’s about reading people. For me, it’s one of the most fascinating aspects of what we do, and I love training people to read people. If you’ve been a waiter for a year you should be able to write a brief biography of the person you’re waiting on. You should know their total net worth, their IQ, where they go for holidays; you should know predictably what their favorite types of food would be, their reference points, and what wine they might like. And the waiter will say, “How?” And you just observe, feel them and listen; but you’re balancing it with the numbers and numbers of people you have read throughout the years. For me, it's channeling, going into the head of a guest and figuring out what their fantasy is so you can deliver on it and exceed it. I sometimes liken it to prostitution — before prostitution had any negative baggage associated with it — when it was still as with the geisha, an art form; when people were gifted in that regard. No one wants to say to you, “This is my fantasy; I’d really like to begin with this and then this.” They want you to intuit it. It’s a bit of a gift, to be able to allow yourself — like a sponge — to intuit what might make a person incredibly happy or what might be a surprise to them.