A creative network of the idea, by the idea, for the idea

Friday, February 20, 2009

Restaurant Series II

One situation that I have seen often during my career as a creative in advertising is the apparent “Irreconcilable differences” between the account service dept. and the creative dept.
I’ve seen it in all the agencies I’ve worked for and the ones I’ve worked with.
Across GM and HM, in branding, promotions, PR, packaging and digital agencies.

It just seems like one of those accepted truths that nobody cares to challenge anymore.
We are different and we just have to resign to tolerate each other.

In many ways I wish we were more like a restaurant. A good restaurant of course.

Many times I’ve heard that account services are like waiters. That they just take the order and pass it to the kitchen.
But some waiters are exceptional. They actually get involved, improving the guest’s eating experience. They know the menu and the cook’s strengths. They ask questions about the guest’s appetite and make relevant recommendations. They pay attention to the party’s behavior and manages the rhythm of the kitchen to handle the guest’s expectations. But most importantly, they prioritize the welfare of the restaurant at all times.
We remember and talk about these waiters. They probably work at the best restaurants and are valued for their unique skills.

Some cooks are also exceptional. They prepare great food, in a distinctive way, adjusting their skills to the needs of the food market. They are professional and creative and they communicate with the waiter staff to make sure the guest receives the best possible eating experience.

This all sounds so simple, so easy, so logical.
Yet, it is so rare.

Most times the waiter is just doing his/her good job, which is to take an order and deliver it to the kitchen.
Most times a cook takes the order and cooks it, sometimes thinking that the food is beneath his/hers skills and complaining about the guests taste.

This is what I propose:

To the waiter.
  • You are the link between the cook and the guest. That’s a big responsibility. If you don’t like it, there are other jobs available for you at the restaurant.
  • To manage the guest is your responsability. The restaurant won’t grow a good reputation (and you won’t make many friends in the kitchen) if you take a plate back 3 times saying that the guest didn’t like it and that you see his point.
  • Some guest will tell you that they know a better way to cook. That doesn’t mean that you should tell the cook how to cook.
  • Every plate coming of the kitchen is the best the cook can make. Always. From the appetizer to the Fillet Mignon. Support all plates.
To the cook.
  • Know the type of restaurant you are cooking for. If it is a fast food restaurant, expect a fast food client. Nobody goes into a McDonalds asking for a white truffle burger. If you really want to cook that amazing gourmet burger, change restaurants.
  • Communicate with the waiter staff. If you don’t, they won’t know how to "sell" your food with the guests.
  • If the guest asks for a salad, the guest probably wants a salad. If you plan on delivering your special salad recipe, tell the guest ahead of time or they will be pissed off they didn’t get what they order.
The restaurant needs excellent cooks and great waiters. Let’s buy the best products, prepare a good menu and make the best food our cooks can make. Give our waiters the tools to deliver an amazing dinning experience and hope that our guest enjoy the food.

The truth is, for a restaurant to be exceptional, both need to be synched to deliver amazing experiences.


  1. that was a great metaphor, i'll be quoting you on this one pretty soon. :)

  2. Inaki. Great post. Methapors really help see beyond our own small world. This one drives the point very well. I don't remember the last time I went into a restaurant and told the Chef how to make Hevos Rancheros, even though I am Mexican and I am the one paying.