Service shapes the dining experience

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The way your team manages each step will put guests at ease.

From the guest’s point of view, meals mean far more than delicious, nutritious and comforting recipes. Make dining an enjoyable food-fueled moment. It starts with managing order of service. 

From the host to the wait staff, shape the dining experience at every turn. Putting guests at ease increases satisfaction, improves appetites and builds anticipation for mealtime.

Set a welcoming tone

The first face a guest sees when entering the dining room should be prepared with a host order of service:

  • Acknowledge guests with a friendly smile and eye contact. 
  • Greet guests with a sincere welcome, using proper titles and the guest’s name if you know it – “Good evening, Mrs. Brown.”
  • Ask about their day (recognize birthdays, anniversaries, etc.).
  • Escort guests to their seats and provide menus (or digital options).

Create a positive atmosphere

Your wait staff spends a lot of time with guests. In addition to using a guest’s name throughout service, here are good order of service practices for your server and wait staff: 

  • Approach the table within a couple of minutes of the host leaving.
  • Introduce yourself or, if already acquainted, say hello.
  • Ask if guests are ready to order beverages. 
  • Return with beverages and take meal orders from left to right. Say thank you, collect menus and ask if there is anything else they need.
  • Serve food in a logical order (e.g., appetizer, entreé, dessert). 
  • Deliver entreé, identifying the meal as you place it in front of the guest. Check for other needs (i.e., condiments, beverages, napkins, etc.).
  • Clear dishes as guests finish, removing dishes before the next course arrives.
  • Check to see how guests are enjoying their meal.
  • Anticipate needs and remain alert and nearby, prepared to respond.

When entreés are finished, move to the next stage of service:

  • Clear the table of everything except beverages and dessert fork. 
  • Serve dessert and tea or coffee, asking about needs (i.e., napkins, beverages, flatware, etc.).
  • Remove dessert dishes when guests finish. Ask if anything else is needed.
  • Thank guests and tell them you look forward to serving them again.

Recognize special considerations

When serving guests with support needs, be aware of the following:

  • Place assistive devices out of the way for service, but keep them nearby and visible. 
  • Serve nutrient-dense foods first if residents have small appetites.
  • Avoid serving dessert before the main entreé. 
  • Follow established guidelines to help guests with opening packages and cutting food.
  • Ensure guests are receiving the correct diet order and required adaptive equipment.

Manage in-room dining

The staff that delivers food has a big responsibility. Here’s how order of service can create a positive in-room dining experience: 

  • Announce yourself and greet guests with sincerity.
  • Follow corporate policy to ensure guests receive the correct meal.
  • Bring the tray table close so the guest can reach everything.
  • Place the tray in the designated spot if the guest is not in the room.
  • Assist with opening food packaging, if needed. 
  • Ask the guest, “Is there anything else that you need?” before leaving.
  • Check with guests the same as you would in a dining room.
  • Remove the tray once the patient is finished eating.

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