For those who want to know everything.

La Belle Vie

La Belle Vie

Minneapolis, MN

For a good time, (make reservations): Here

Check out their website: HERE

Key words: Team. Elegant. Involvement. Professional. Beautiful.

Regardless of which career someone chooses, the natural desire is to work at the best place we can–for numerous reasons. Money is one. Pride is another. But one reason that is rarely conscious is the desire to avoid frustration.

Once someone becomes great at their craft, or if someone is very passionate about it, one of the most frustrating things is working with incompetent people, or people who don’t care, or with managers who don’t lead. The best in any profession pine around, in search of the best places to work, no longer happy being a diamond in the rough, but wanting to be a part of something more.

The service industry is no different.

 

Turn Over

 

I enter La Belle Vie, which is located in a high end condominium building in Minneapolis, MN. At first one might be confused, “Where should I go?” But you are pulled forward by its style and quickly greeted by a La Belle Vie Maître d’.

After I am introduced to the greeting team, I am led into the dining room to meet the service team. I see a lot of familiar faces.

[To move forward with this article you must know one thing. About two years ago I got a bug to learn from other restaurant teams (just like I did for this tour, but on an itty-bitty scale), so I drove from Kansas City to Minneapolis and spent a shift with this team. Are you with me, sexy reader? Two years ago, I did a stage at this restaurant…]

I say a lot of, “Oh, I met you when I was here a couple years ago.” Virtually everyone who was working here before is working here now. So I ask them, why is turnover so low? Reid, who I spent time with before says, “We’ve all aimed at this place. It’s a goal in a way.” Patrick interjects, “We’re kind of at the top of the food chain.”


 

Reid continues, “This isn’t a job where you look to go somewhere else, you look to come here. This is the best place for professionals to be.”

With a 5, 8, and 12 course meal option, there are too many steps of service to successfully run a section alone. That’s why La Belle Vie practices team service and pools tips.

I know a lot of people in the industry (and out),  have a strong repellency to team service, so I asked this team if they could provide exceptional service without it? Kim, a professional who has been at LBV for 9 years says, “We have to do team to maintain this level of service.” Does team service help foster a higher level of service? “Oh, absolutely.”

Many of you work at restaurants that don’t practice team service and tip pooling, and you spend a lot of time at the host stand, getting p.o’d that you didn’t get the 4-top of high rollers, or complaining (often, fairly) about the rotation. On that subject Kim says, “I think that all the energy that people put on who gets what tables and when, disappears.”

[If you are ready for a new restaurant job, check out my article on how to create a beautiful server resume.]

 

 

Passion, you either have it or you don’t

 

Being at “the top of the food chain,” as Patrick put it, calls to certain people. Not only does it call to those who have been in the industry for a long time, it also calls to those who have a true passion for hospitality and personal growth. When you are the best, or if you want to be the best, it only makes sense that you would want to work at the best.

Tara, one of the members of the management team and a former server of LBV tells me, “you should definitely talk to Kairi.” So I did. I found someone young to the industry, but she is exactly what this industry needs. She is eager to learn and be better, and she wants to STAY in this profession.

More and more I am finding young people who are realizing that this profession is, um, well…a profession!

I kind of cornered Kairi in the hall, and told her that Tara thinks very highly of her. I asked her why she supposes that is?   Kairi found her verbal footing and broke into a sprint. “I started out at culvers, and that’s where it began. The owner was such a hospitable person. He always said, ‘if a guest isn’t happy you say, “what can I do to make it better?”‘  I started [working] at a Sushi restaurant and I liked, (it sounds really silly), I liked the high, or euphoria–the happiness I get when a guest is happy; genuinely happy. That’s why I love running food here, I set down the plate and explain it to them and they just get this joyful, delightful glow on their face, they’re so excited about the food. And working with the food here made me realize how little I know about it. So right now I am in culinary school. It’s important to know the back of house and the front of house aspect.”

To be clear, Kairi wants to be a front of house manager, and she wants to be a great one. So much so that she is attending culinary school so she can be well rounded.

Grasp. That. Passion.

Kairi goes on, “A lot of restaurants just want to get people in the seats. And that effects the guests directly; our service to you. We can’t take time or enough effort of what we think is best for the guest. That’s why I love working here, everything is about the guest.”

What a lesson… it’s not just about volume? Cough-cough-cough…are you sure?

Yes, we’re sure.

It is about the guest’s experience and how to provide an exceptional one, every single time. And LBV does that. From Matthew, a managing partner, who told me, “We might go to the extreme sometimes. We recently tried 40 different Roses to find the perfect pairing for one dish.” To Tara pointing out the importance of “catering the guest experience to the individual needs of each guest.” LBV tries, and delivers. And because of that they have “butts in seats,” and will continue to for as long as they maintain their genuine love for the guest.

This restaurant teaches us the better you strive to be, the better quality of professional you will draw to your team.


Thank you everyone, for a great shift. Tara, I can count on one hand the number of people in this industry who really care, and who inspire me. You are on that hand. Thank you Kim, Reid, Kairi, Jack, Patrick, Craig, Jay, Matthew, Michael, Emily, Jason and everyone else in the front of house. A special shout to Jose and Angel–the front servers are exceptional, but they couldn’t do it without you. You guys rock the house!

 

 

 

6 Comments
  1. Jennifer,

    by the way my name is spelled Reid. That’s R-e-i-d. Hope to see again some time.

  2. I have been in the service industry for a 11 years and have only worked at 3 restaurants in that time. I strive to do the best I can every shift I work no matter what position it is. I enjoy your insight and writings about an industry that changes daily. I also strive to be a manager some day. My wife just got promoted to be a manager recently and I pass along your rid bits of information to her. I just want to say you’re doing a great job and a great service to people that want to keep learning. Thank you and keep it up.

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Website: http://iamWaitress.com
Email: jennifer@iamWaitress.com