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Feb 18, 2008 03:49 PM

Is the chef responsible for a restaurant's "attitude"?

When you read reviews of certain restaurants, sometimes a pattern emerges. Some establishments gain a reputation for their culture or attitude. For example, a restaurant might be described as snooty, or diners might chronically complain that the servers are slack and aloof.

How does this restaurant attitude develop in the first place? Is it a reflection of the owner or the chef? The locale, or just coincidence?

I'm picturing the front house manager or chef gathering servers together before the first seating of the night and rallying them with a pep talk: "OK everyone, let's go out there tonight and show these people that you really don't care. You're doing THEM a favor. Don't make eye contact. Remember to walk really slowly and don't be afraid to chat behind the bar! Everyone on the same page? Go get 'em!"

Do chefs know when a restaurant earns a (negative) reputation for its culture and do they care? Or might the situation be like some CEO's who are too disconnected to know the customer experience of their business?

I know there isn't one set of precise answers to these questions, I just wonder what other people think. Anyone with experience in the business see firsthand how a restaurant's attitude develops?


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  1. Generally it's not the chef's responsibility to make sure the dining room runs smoothly, it's the GM's job. The chef should be busy enough to not have to worry if the dining room's running smoothly (with the exception of knowing when food should go out).

    1. When I trained as a chef (Seventh Inn restaurant in Boston) at a certain point we would go to a different restaurant once every week -- from fine dining to holes in the wall -- and fill out a questionnaire when we got back. From straight forward questions like "How many did the restaurant seat?" to "What is the owner like?". While all personnel are important there is onlyy one indispensable person(s) -- the owner(s). He, she, or they set the tone, hire the chef and the GM (if there is one) or the person that does so, etc., etc. The same approach works for corporate ownership as well.