As part of #FoodWeek here at IMAGE.ie, we caught up with one man who certainly knows a thing or two when it comes to dining out, Nick Munier. From top tips on customer service to his advice on dealing with cranky Irish foodies, here our favourite restauranteur shares all. A must read for anybody considering a career in the same field.
What's the best lesson you've ever learned about customer service in a restaurant?
It might seem obvious, but I always stand by the mantra that you need to anticipate customers' needs and serve how you would like to be served! Over the years, I have also learned that front of house is equally if not more important than the kitchen in the running of a successful establishment.
Where do you think new restaurants can go wrong when it comes to looking after their customers?
Not investing enough time, energy or effort in the preparation of staff training and knowledge of their menu. In my eyes you can never have too much training and it's the old adage that knowledge really is power. All staff are brand ambassadors for the business and what happens a lot of the time is that restaurant owners and chefs focus too much on their own egos and what they want instead of on the customer.
Do you think restaurants in Ireland put enough attention and effort into this part of the dining experience?
Service is an integral part of our job, it is an extension of our personalities, you need to be a patient people person and a well paced service beats fast, chaotic service every single time and oh yes, it helps if you are a good actor!
If you had one piece of advice for an up and coming restauranteur, what would it be?
Know your location, know what you are offering, don't lose sight of your vision of what you want your business to be and have a clear message and a strong brand - make sure it does exactly what it says on the tin.
What's the worst customer experience you ever had? - you have to tell us!
Working at the Criterion in Piccadilly, we had a party of 6 women in on a hen night - one of the ladies complained to me that she found it terrible that we made her look uglier than her friends as she thought the lights in the toilets were too bright and what were we going to do about it! I felt like telling her it would take more than changing the lights in the loo to help improve her face but I had to bite my tongue. You meet all sorts in this industry.
When you do your job as best you can and you still experience difficult customers, how do you handle it?
Grin and bear it as at the end of the day the customer is our bread and butter. It also helps that I have a wonderful imagination so tend to daydream that I am on a desert island sipping a cocktail, Club Tropicana style, if things get really bad!
What's the best thing to do when somebody makes a complaint?
Tell them to Jog on. I'm joking of course. Obviously the key points to remember are to listen, understand and acknowledge, works every time.
With the changing landscape of the food industry in Ireland - pop ups etc - do you think some of the older hospitality rules are adapting? Are things becoming more laid-back?
Absolutely, we are in the age of social media and casual dining so the food industry is definitely reflecting this. Casual dining has overtaken the formality of fine dining however, in order to master the art of casual dining successfully, proprietors still need to sustain a high level of standards in order to ensure a good level of service that will keep people coming back for more!
And finally, what's next on the cards for Nick Munier?
I am currently looking into cloning as I am ridiculously busy over the next few months but it's a good complaint! i'm organising an art exhibition in November to showcase my work, I am in the midst of writing my second book and I am also branching into a very new and exciting business venture which will be fresh and dynamic - something that is really needed in Dublin. Watch this space!
We certainly will.