This is one of our waiters, Emil. He has a unique role at our restaurant that…well, can only be explained in his own words….
A Service Introduction
How many different ways can a sentence possibly be sung, screamed, performed or in other ways conveyed? And more importantly; how will it come out when you don’t think about how you’re going to perform it before the second it needs to be there?
What I am writing about here, is a phenomenon I honestly think only exists in this one restaurant in the world. I am talking about the ”pre-service introduction” ritual that we have been practicing since the first time we opened our doors to the hungry masses. I’m not exactly sure how it came to be my job to do it, and why we haven’t put a stop to this ridiculousness a long time ago, but now it’s there and I have a feeling it’s going to be around for quite a while.
In most restaurants of a certain level, the staff always gathers for a meeting before going into service. At this meeting we go through menu changes that may have taken place, new wines, things that may have sold out, etc. We also go through all the reservations for the evening, just to pass around the information you have on the guests, such as anniversary or birthday celebrations, allergies and dietary restrictions, if people are bringing kids, etc. Basically, it’s a meeting to discuss anything that can help us in providing the best service possible to each guest.
On our opening day, Chef Matt Orlando opened the ”pre-service meeting” (now also called the ”pre-surfing” by staff for some unbeknownst reason) by looking at all of us in the eye and saying: ”Welcome to the first day of the rest of our lives”.
That sentence, that way of officially sending the restaurant out on its journey, turned out to be a bit of a milestone at Amass.
After the meeting we joked around about introducing each day of service with that sentence, getting to obscure numbers of days after being open for 20 years. Matt Orlando with grey hair and crutches saying: welcome to the nine-thousand three-hundred and fortys-second day of the rest of our lives while trying to holding onto his fake teeth.
It was funny, good times, we got ready for service, the guests started walking in the door and I forgot all about it.
The next day, sure enough, 5 pm came around and so, the pre-service meeting. As I wrote earlier, I’m not quite sure how it happened that I became to be the one in charge of this ritual, but suddenly I was yelling at the top of my lungs: “Welcome to the second day of the rest of our lives!” And that was it, point of no return. It was officially a tradition.
Since then, every single service has been saluted with one of these introductions– we even do two of them on Fidays and Saturdays, because we have both lunch and dinner service on these days (i.e. welcome to the 37th day of the rest of our lives Part One and Part Two). Since the opening the ritual has evolved immensely. Everything from singing made up verses about the awesomeness of the restaurant over AC/DC songs to ballet performances done while chanting the sentence. There’s been aerobic sessions and Christmas carols, death metal and musical songs.
The rules for the introduction are pretty clear: Don’t destroy the restaurant, don’t take more than 2 minutes (“Please Emil!”) and ”Welcome to the Nth day of the rest of our lives” has to be in there somehow.
Over time, we have been through many great introduction successes and many miserable fiascoes together, but without fail, every single service we’ve had here has had an introduction. I usually don’t pay any thought to what I’m going to do before i do it and there is really a certain thrill in the act of just opening your mouth to see what comes out when you’re on the spot like that. The backside of that, is that sometimes, what comes out is really just a bunch of crap. Like the ”blah blah blah” introduction…Oh well, you can’t win them all.
I might be kidding myself, but I like to think that this way of going into service helps to energize and motivate staff, shake everybody out of our zombie-like glass-polishing-state-of-mind and get our heads tuned in to service mode (after all, we do all of this work for our guests and only for our guests, so after a long day of preparation, we need to really get our heads right for service). But more importantly, I hope it reminds us all to keep on having fun with what we do. It’s an incredibly exciting, but it’s a tough business we’re working in. If you take the fun out of it, you’re left with just tough and that can get old really fast.
Today is the 109th day of the rest of our lives, so if you’re walking by Amass at around 5 pm. stop and listen. You might catch a little piece of wonderful weirdness.