What Ever Happened To Table Touching?

Table Touching is a restaurant term and a technique utilized by a member of the management team to stop by tables in the dining room and check on the guests to see if everything at the table has been satisfactory. Now this is a broad stroke of the meaning and depending upon the restaurant chain or independent restaurant you work for; this technique can be either mandatory or simply an excellent habit built through years of front of the house management experience and training. For years, I have witnessed this technique get bastardized or simply forgotten. So, when I see it performed, correctly, I like to acknowledge it, if the timing warrants it.

Well, at the Brio Tuscan Grille Restaurant in the Mall at the Millenia, this technique was exhibited correctly and with sincere warmth.

While running an errand at the mall and it being lunch time, my wife Cindy and I were both getting desperate to find a restaurant before our next appointment. Cindy suggested we stop at Brio, reminding me of the awesome chicken salad that we had had a few weeks earlier at the Brio Tuscan Grille in Winter Park, Florida. Not wanting to continue the search for another mediocre dining experience, we rolled the dice, making our decision based on a dish we were both familiar with. We walked in and immediately were greeted by the host who lead us to an outside table, of our choosing and we sat down to a gorgeous, light fall day, here in Orlando.

We were immediately greeted by Frank, our food server, who has an infectious smile and the energy behind it. Frank assisted us with the menu, by not being overpowering, but by being suggestive and directed us towards finding the correct wine, and the exact food choices that would offer us a successful lunch. Obviously, Frank showed how much he enjoyed working at Brio through his mannerism and his excellent service technique. While we were served our wine, as well as our meal, properly, I noticed a young man addressing the table in front of us. Cindy was also aware of the manager being at the table and she immediately thought,” oh gosh, what’s wrong with that table.? As we both have hospitality degrees and both have been in the hospitality industry for over 30 years each, we naturally assumed something must be wrong, why? Because you don’t see management engaging tables any more, unless it’s to address an issue.

The gorgeous weather soon turned, as if often does in Orlando, to a light rain and then into showers. The manager and Frank offered to move us inside earlier, but we managed to finish our meals, undisturbed by the rain, until the wind and the rain began to pick up and we decided to move in. So, we finished our meals and with a just a few sips of wine left to go, Frank and the manager, offered to assist us out of the rain and into the bar area to finish our dining experience. We were extremely satisfied with the delicious food and the efficiency of the service. We walked into the bar and I happened to see the manager so I tapped him on the shoulder and I said, “Too often in our industry we are stopped for the, not so good, but I wanted to let you know. I saw what you were doing, going around and touching the tables and I said, great job, keep up the good work and it was noticed. Thank you.”

He immediately, thanked me, and we started up a great conversation on how table touching is a lost art that needs to be found again. He explained his upper mobility in the company, his recruitment of Frank from the Winter park store, and his promotion. He was assigned to bring this once top 5 store, back to the level of where it belongs. I truly admired Anthony’s passion for service. I saw that same look some 20 years ago, in my own eyes, and I had to ask myself, where did it go? It has dimmed and fainted thorough years of inefficient dining, yet that light, that was once flickering was now rekindled by Frank, Anthony and the General Manager, E.J.Gregg. They restored my faith that service, and the word hospitality, is not dead, but somehow alive and flourishing in a Mall restaurant in Orlando. I could see it growing in the staff’s eyes and in their mannerism. I watched it from afar as the kitchen was humming and moving in one harmonious rhythm. It shows what strong leadership, hard work, and consistency can bring to any food establishment. I continually say that all food operations start at the top and works its way down through positive dialogue, leadership and by setting the example to the staff. E.J. and Anthony are setting the example of what management is and should be across our industry. I already know, by the vibe of the restaurant and by the tone set by the management team, that they are building customer loyalty, one guest at a time, and that starts with “Touching Tables” in a genuine manner, which resonates with the customers and creates allegiance when competition is extremely competitive and around every corner.

Thank you, Brio Tuscan Grille in the Mall at the Millenia, for making our lunch a memorable one.