Gail Simmons

Gail explains that she just wants to be taken care of at dinner and commends one chef for conquering Restaurant Wars.

on Dec 4, 2013 Finally you had Travis’s Olive Oil Cake, which you didn’t think was moist, but you did find delicious.

GS: We know how well Travis did in the front of the house, how comfortable he was, how charming he was and how well he ran service. His olive oil cake was a great choice. It was a little dry. I wish that it was slightly more moist and springy. But Olive oil cake, Greek yogurt, cherries, pistachios is a great combination. It was just sweet enough. It was a really smart thing to make because he knew he could work on it all the day before and he could have someone else plate it without worrying that they would screw it up because it wasn’t very complicated. He could then just focus on the front of the house. There were a lot of problems with the front of house at Found. What did you think was the most egregious?

GS: I think, generally, how smug and distracted Sara seemed in the process of our service was the biggest issue. I know she was working so hard and her mind was going in a million directions, but she was stiff and so focused on doing her job that she forgot about taking any joy in the process. That translated to us not getting descriptions of our food and not feeling welcomed. She dropped plates and ran away because she had 2,000 other things to do. There was no time taken to pay attention to the details. You really felt her stress. This was even more apparent as we had just come from Fin where the opposite was the case. Travis had the same stress, was serving the same amount of people, under the same demands as Sara, but you never felt it. We all felt Sara’s stress from the minute we sat down and waited for someone to pay attention to us for 20 minutes. We knew there was something wrong in the kitchen. And Sara never came over to apologize.

Another lesson Danny Meyer taught me is that you, as the restaurateur, as the person in charge of service, as the manager or as the ambassador for the front of house of a restaurant, have the ability and control to make every first and last impression on your diners. Even if service isn’t going well, even if the food isn’t good, and there are obvious problems, there are so many little things you can do that allow guests to ignore problems and enjoy the experience: an extra glass of champagne, coming to check on them, making small talk, making them feel like you are sincerely sorry for any mistakes, that you are working on the problem, that you are taking care of them. As customers, we all just want to know you care because we’re giving you our money. Regardless of what goes wrong, a server can always turn that around, with very little effort if you focus on it. Sara just didn’t do that.