Recently, I heard someone talking about an oak tree. He said, the oak tree grows tall and spreads its branches casting a broad shadow. And, it provides a lot of shade.
Its job is to provide shade. The oak tree provides shade to anyone or anything that sits below it. The oak tree doesn’t care who you are, what you look like, if you are nice or mean, what color you are, what gender you are, what you drive, or how much you make.
It doesn’t care if you are deserving or not. The oak tree gives without expectation. Its job is to provide comfort to whoever sits underneath it. (side note—If you live in Florida during the summer, I bet you are truly grateful for the shade).
Just like the oak tree, our job as restaurateurs is to provide nourishment and comfort. It is our job to provide hospitality to everyone. Just like the oak tree, it doesn’t matter who sits under our hospitality. We provide it to whomever sits with us.
We now live in a world that has never been more technologically advanced. We have Immediate access to millions of people at the touch of our fingers. However, while our world is high tech, it has become low touch.
What I mean is we have ATMs so we don’t have to talk to a bank teller. We have self-check computers so we can move through the grocery store quicker. We have computerized operators that require punching several numbers just to get to a real human being. Face time used to mean grabbing coffee, lunch, or a drink. Sadly, even restaurants these days are missing the human factor.
Stress, addiction, divorce, and suicide are at an all-time high because there are very few opportunities for someone to truly feel cared for by another human being.
So few people think beyond themselves. So few people provide food, drink, empathy, and love to those in need.
This is what I mean by low touch. People sitting at our table or on our bar stool may have come in to celebrate a life moment. Some came to forget life for a moment. We have the opportunity to make their life a little better by caring.
We have the great privilege of offering a place of refuge to those who need refuge. We have the privilege to celebrate with those who have cause to celebrate.
Hospitality is our responsibility and it far outweighs the importance of service and product. You may ask, what is the difference between Service and Hospitality. Well here are my thoughts …
- Service is a skill set—Hospitality is a mindset
- Service is transactional—Hospitality is relational
- Service is meeting or exceeding the guest’s physical needs
- Hospitality is meeting or exceeding the guest’s emotional needs
As restaurateurs our message to our guests should be YOU matter to us. It’s also the message we should be sharing with our teammates. YOU matter to me. Be a great leader to your people. Model hospitality and kindness to them and then tell your people to go and do the same to their guests.
Like the oak tree, show hospitality to everyone. Think on this. If we all do that, this world will be a better place because we humans were here. And no technology can replace that.