From all the conversations I have around tables, I know the power of having the right people come to the table. We’ve had everyone from CEOs, creatives and chefs come to the table. Recently, I took a group out to dinner – to experience the restaurant from the chef’s table. We were disappointed and embarrassed for the chef-owner over the poor experience. Here’s what we learned about interacting with people who sit at your table

Acknowledge Your Guests

Four people were working at the reception desk and there were no guests in line, yet our party had to wait for attention. There is nothing more important than greeting your guests when they first arrive. Look them in the eye and welcome them sincerely.

Seat Guests for their Comfort, not Your Convenience

There were no tables reserved. We asked because we were annoyed and disappointed that our party was shown to a tight and uncomfortable corner of the room rather than a larger, more comfortable space. We were clearly seated for the convenience of the wait staff rather than the comfort of our party. The comfort of your guests matters.

Be Guest Focused  

The restaurant menu is three pages long – food, beverages and specialty cocktails – but one person in our party only received one page of the menu. Being guest-focused eliminates sloppy behavior like this.

Know What You’re Offering

The waitress came to take our beverage order – it was a long list of coffee beverages – and one of the guests didn’t know what they all were. Neither did the waitress. At this point, the guests at the table were becoming agitated. Everyone who interacts with customers should know what is on the menu and be able to describe it. A conversation followed about Bed Bath and Beyond, where there are several choices, and the staff knows about them all.


After each of us placed our order the waitress repeated it, which was a good thing, since she either misheard or, as we suspected, wasn’t listening, since she repeated four of the five orders incorrectly. Listening is not a difficult skill to master, but it is essential.

Come to the Table

One of our guests at the table knows the chef well enough to ask the waitress to let him know we were there. To our surprise the chef did not come out to greet us. Not a message – not a word – from the chef. Why not? Relationship building happens at the table. Come to the table. Especially when invited.