How to Work the Room for Restaurant Managers


Demonstrating management presence to your guests is a critical part in the overall Cycle of Service that encompasses the guest experience. Don’t “manage the floor,” work the room. Try to greet every guest in your dining room or bar. Watch your guests’ faces as they receive their food. Make eye contact. Smile. Introduce yourself and learn your guests’ names. (You may want to start a journal of guests’ names to help you remember them the next time they come in.)

“Okay” is Definitely Not Okay

As you work the room, break out of the mechanical table visit that includes a rushed general question such as “Is everything okay?” If guests respond “Alright” or “Okay,” are those answers acceptable? Many of your competitors think so. Instead, have a purpose and reason to be at the table. Find out information to help drive business. Deliver extraordinary service guests will remember. Here are some ideas to work the room effectively:

  • Refill drinks.
  • Remove plates or glasses. For example, “Are you still enjoying your meal or may I remove your plate?”
  • Offer to box leftover food.
  • Find out how their service is.
  • Promote specials or marketing initiatives currently going on.
  • Provide a bounce-back coupon.
  • Invite guests in for special events (wine tastings and classes, samplings of specials, focus group feedback).
  • Have guests fill out a contact card to be included on your email list.
  • Have any employees gone out of their way to help out?
  • What else can you do to build frequency?
  • Where else do the guests eat? Why? What does the competition do better?
  • Any part of the visit just okay or ordinary? If they are, what can you do to be extraordinary?

Table visits tend to be an interruption of guests’ meals. Use the time instead to build sales and relationships. When you work the room, it sets an example for the rest of the staff that you’re focused on guest service.

More Than How to Work the  Room | Visit our Management Article Archives

There’s more to exceptional restaurant management than just knowing how to work the room. The restaurant management section of our blog is dedicated to helping you meet your leadership goals. Check it out!

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