So my friend and I decided to stop at a favorite restaurant, Legal Sea Foods. Legal Sea Foods started out as a market in Cambridge, MA and opened their first small restaurant next to the market in 1968. In 1994 they opened in Logan Airport outside of Boston. I have also discovered a LS in National Airport. The food is amazing and my friend who has eaten his way around the world says the clam chowder is second to none. I should also he add he never orders clam chowder—except at Legal Sea Foods.
At this point they operate over 30 family-owned restaurants, a mail-order business and a grocery products division. The Berkowitz family is into the third generation, which in itself flies against the statistics that 80% of third generation business go down the drain. My first culinary experience with LS was in the Logan Airport—what a surprise! Which leads me to why we should all take note.
Our server, Molly, was "texting" in our order. The device looks like a Blackberry but it's called the Siva and is designed by Microsoft. The software it uses is called PAR. Molly has been accused of texting by the blue-haired bunch plenty of times. But she's not — she's doing her job the way it's meant to be done. The Siva links the order directly to the kitchen, and if a customer has allergies she punches that in and everyone is alerted.
So, is Molly a good server, and does Legal Sea Foods have criteria for good service? Does she treat everyone well, up-sell when appropriate, mention the desserts and know how to present the right wine with the right fish? Well, with this technology, you might think it doesn't matter so much. It's all in her computer. The Siva can tell how long the customer stays at the table and what Molly is selling. In addition LS uses Ing@nico, which they call "pay at the table" so your credit card never leaves the guest’s hands.
While the technology is all well and good, it doesn't replace the actual service and friendliness that Molly provides. She is a restaurant representative from their customer service department, essentially. And a large part of eating out — no matter how much we deny it — is being served and being served well.
So, if your store is based on technology, or your sales staff is able to be much more efficient with technology, don't forget to check on whether they're still using the same customer-service oriented approach that you trained them in. A computer does much to increase efficiency and measurement, but it can never replace a genuine smile and genuine hospitality.
Want a "Legal Clambake?" Legal Sea Foods offers full event planning, menu, staff, and the right equipment for an old-fashioned clambake. Contact 617-530-9455 or www.legalseafoods.com.