Creative Ideas for Great Table Service

Posted by Patrick Maness +

A romantic Valentine’s Day diner at KFC might seem like a joke, or a sort of parody, but it happened. And this wasn’t just the brainchild of a fun couple with an ironic sense of humor, either: In 2016, Valentine's Day table service officially premiered at the Fishergate branch KFC in Lancashire, England.

Meanwhile across the ocean, White Castle restaurants have been taking reservations for Valentine’s Day for the last 25 years. It’s become something of sensation for a growing fan club.

These types of table service are not necessarily unique, but in the context of what most would call very unromantic fast-food chains, they are both surprising and create a kind of advertising money can’t buy.

The fact that fast-food chains can generate buzz by transforming themselves into table-service restaurants — even if only for one day a year — should be a lesson for everyone in the restaurant business that creative table service can really improve customer satisfaction and boost business. If you’re wondering how to get started, here are a few ideas to create simple or even dramatic effects.

Walking hors d’oeuvres – A staple of upscale receptions and lounge parties are the servers who walk around with a plate of hors d’oeuvres for guests to nibble on and enjoy. Bring that idea to your dining room floor with some small bites that will not only add to the atmosphere, but will allow guests to sample some of the more interesting and delectable menu options they may not think to order.

Pre-set service – Instead of seating people in front of empty plates and folded napkins, the idea here is to seat them to a table that is already set with appetizers, salads at each seat, bread and more. This makes your restaurant much more like a private dinner party, increasing the intimacy of the customer’s dining experience.

English style or family style  Rather than serving everyone an individual plate of food, here the entire table shares large platters and bowls full of food. Of course, this method also means making changes to your menu and kitchen, but to this classic method promotes a more communal dining experience that many diners love.

Hand service – Fancier than fine dining, this white-gloved affair is what comes to mind when we think of how 19th-century aristocrats ate their meals. Ideally, there is one server for every two diners, and these servers diligently attend to their guests, providing bottle service and more. The food is covered by a dome that is removed at the direction of the captain or head waiter. The entire affair is a well-orchestrated piece of theater unlike anything your guests have experienced. It would be impractical (and very expensive) to serve everyone this way, but as a service available upon request, it would be one more way to make your business really stand out.

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