Cardinal Service Sins. Back to basics - Part 1
In 2003 while living in New York I had the opportunity to have dinner at Le Bernardin. This single dining experience showed me what the meaning of service and hospitality we’re all about.
A few years later Chef Eric Ripert published a book called “On the line: Inside The World of Le Bernardin and Inside the book, there were a couple of pages that outlined the philosophy the restaurant had about guest service and what a dining experience could be. It provided a list of “cardinal sins of service” that is given to every new server and front of house member at New York’s famed Le Bernardin.
Sometimes it’s important to go back to service basics and remember what it’s all about - to deliver a great experience for the guest. The original list is nearly 150 items and over the years I’ve added probably 75 more that I believe make it more modern and relevant in 2020 (and in the times of Covid-19)
I’ll break the list up into groups of 50 and post it every day or so. If I missing anything, please leave a comment or shoot me a message.
In no particular order #1-50
1. Not acknowledging guests with eye contact and a smile within 30 seconds. First impressions count!
2. Not thanking the guests as they leave. Last impression!
3. Not remembering the guests’ likes and dislikes!
4. Not opening the front door for guests.
5. Silverware set askew on the tables.
6. Tabletop that isn’t picture perfect.
7. Forks with bent tines.
8. Unevenly folded napkins.
9. Chipped glassware.
10. Tables not completely set when guests are being seated.
11. Dead or wilted flowers on the tables.
12. Tables that are not leveled.
13. Salt and half-empty pepper shakers.
14. Salt or sugar-crusted inside the shakers.
15. Carelessly placed items on the tables.
16. Table linen with small holes, rips, or burns.
17. Clutter or junk. Watch the trays, gueridons, etc.
18. Pictures on walls not leveled.
19. Tables not properly cleared.
20. Burned-out lightbulbs.
21. Clattering dishes. Be quiet!
22. Dropping china, silverware, or glassware.
23. Murky or smelly water in flower vases.
24. Wobbly tables or chairs.
25. Broken chairs.
26. Needing to be the center of attention. Give the ego a break!
27. An “I’m doing you a favor” attitude.
28. Socializing with certain guests while ignoring others!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
29. Being too familiar or excessively chatty.
30. Having a visible reaction to the amount of the tip.
31. Ignoring obvious attempts to get attention.
32. Making light of a guest’s complaint.
33. No sense of humor.
34. Orders that arrive incomplete.
35. Not acknowledging guests as soon as they’re seated.
36. Not providing service to tables in order of their arrival.
37. Wrong pacing: meal service too fast or too slow.
38. Not providing a place for meal debris—e.g., shells!
39. Food sitting visible on gueridon.
40. Necessary condiments that don’t arrive with food.
41. Lack of eye contact.
42. Talking to the order pad.
43. Not repeating each item as the guest orders.
44. Not naming each item as you serve.
45. Addressing the woman as “the lady.” (Times are changing!)
46. Thumbs on the plate during service.
47. Stacking or scraping dishes in front of guests.
48. Approaching a table with another table’s dirty dishes.
49. Entering the guests’ conversation without invitation.
50. Interrupting or asking questions while a guest’s mouth is full.