For those who want to know everything.

Oak at Fourteenth

Oak at Fourteenth

Bouler, CO

Check out their website: HERE

Key words: Great space, Anticipation, Awareness, Expectation.

For a good time, (make reservations): Here

No two service shifts are ever the same. Therefor, to have a shift roll out smoothly takes an ability of the team to cause every guest to have a great experience, regardless of any hurdles or unexpected setbacks.

Those that possess an ability to see what is going on, anticipate upcoming happenings and make plans to support those happenings, are the kind of servers that are on the team at Oak at Fourteenth.

Intro side not story. [As someone who is doing a stage, I am totally new to the Oak at Fourteenth’s way of doing things. After I walk in and the greetings are over, I am shown into a room to attend the front of house line up. Everyone is standing while the Chef and managers talk about things worth talking about. So do you know what I do? I stand too! This is a simple example of how new hires can be shaped to do things the way you do them. It’s called culture and if you have a strong enough sense of one, you are ahead of a battle.]


 Awareness is not enough


We learn from experience, and if we are very wise, we learn from other people’s experiences. That’s what Charlie, the Assistant General Manager of Oak at Fourteenth, was hoping when he told a story during the “focus points” segment of the pre-shift line-up.

Charlie had ordered a drink and delivery was taking a long time. (It happens.) He told us how his server came up and apologized for the wait. (Awesome!) She told him the bar was running behind and having a hard time catching up. (Okay. And then not okay.) But the same thing happened later in his experience with his food. It was also taking a long time, and again his server apologized. She told him the kitchen was having a hard time tonight and tickets were running long. (Great. And then bad.)

What’s the lesson Charlie wants his team to take away? Blame is bad, especially when you are on a team like Oak at Fourteenth is.

Charlie told that story to remind everyone (including me) that communicating with your guests is necessary, but it is never okay to point a finger in fault at anyone you work with.  When you are on a team, you are all in it together. There is no us and them, or me and he.

It’s easy to blame others, but it takes integrity of your profession and respect for your peers to keep deprecating reasons and excuses to yourself.


Anticipation and Awareness


If you are going to be a team that has integrity and respect, everyone must be accountable and strong. Accountability should be there from day one, but strength is something that you earn from having anticipation and awareness.

The server in Charlie’s story did not possess anticipation. Maybe her service leader did not provide her with ideas and tools to best approach that particular scenerio. Who knows? But she was so close to perfection! She was aware that drinks and food were running slow, but she did nothing in anticipation of those facts. No intermezzo was offered, no manager spoke to Charlie, no treats were provided… nothing beyond awareness.

As I was talking to Charlie about this subject,  Greg came up and gave this article’s point a real life example. “I think it’s going to rain,” he told Charlie. (There were guests dining on the patio, rain could negatively impact their experience.) After some hushed talking and gesturing to tables in the restaurant, Charles came back to our conversation. “Did you see that? That’s what I love–anticipation and awareness. Anticipation is knowing it’s about to rain, Greg, a waiters/bar-back, just said ‘hey, they’re going to have to move inside. Do we have a plan for that?’ ”

And because of that awareness, they created a plan. The team was empowered with tools to implement in anticipation of a weather change.

This is just one small example, but if each of your team members are aware of 100 small things during a shift, and anticipate how best to move forward, you will have one badass service crew on your hands.


This team teaches us that awareness is half of an equation to excellence, it must be followed up with anticipation.


Thank you Mary Alice, Bill Espiricueta, Charlie, Nate, Nick, Kyle, Steve, Brian, Greg, Matthew, Andreas, Angie, Ryan, Mark and everyone else who answered my questions and helped me get a sense for your excellent, daily service. You are an inspiration to the FOH community!


We are in this profession together. Let’s start applauding, sharing ideas and bringing more excellence to our game. Do you want to help me with this tour AND become a stronger server or manager? Thank God! Check out the iamWaitress product line HERE or make a donation on the left.

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