The Service System

The wait person or server communicates the establishment's attitude toward the customer. Some foodservice operations use the term guest to emphasize the value placed on their clientele. The server spends more time with the customer and may be the first and last person with whom the customer has contact. A good culture of service occurs when servers are empowered to respond positively to all customer requests. Management must promote this "culture of service" to all employees that have contact with the customer. Good servers are aware of the customer's discomfort and dissatisfaction. Having a positive regard for the customer is training by example. Continuing education for managers and employees is necessary.

A full-service restaurant practices one of the four basic service styles or a combinations of styles. Family-style service uses serving dishes placed on the table, and the customers serve themselves. This is also known as English service. Smorgasbords and self-serve salad bars are forms of the family-style service. Plate service, or American service, is generally used by most restaurants. All the food is put on plates in the kitchen and served in the dining room. Bread and butter may be served on a bread and butter plate. French service, or table-side service, is another style. This service is characterized by the service of food from a heated cart by a waiter and assistant. The waiter and assistant prepare finishing touches to the food on the cart at the table and serve the food to the customer. During platter service, or Russian service, the food is fully prepared and cut into portions in the kitchen. The waiter serves the food on platters directly to the customer. Both French and Rus-

sian types of service allow for showmanship and drama at the customer's table. More equipment, utensils, and skilled waiters are needed for this type of service. Portion control may also be a problem.

In the 1990, most full-service restaurants added another type of service: the take-out and delivery service. Take-out foods have become a vital part of the American's way of life. Restaurants and food retailers have become kitchens-on-the-go. A consumer survey revealed that approximately three-quarters (78%) of U.S. households make one carry-out or delivery purchase in a typical month. The take-out customer is "in a hurry," "tired," or has "no other place to go." Therefore, the customer is looking for speedy service, accurately filled orders, easy access, reasonable prices, and sometimes portion sizes that provide enough for leftovers. The restaurant's take-out contact person may be the only employee the customer sees. A good service culture is important.

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