Wikipedia defines “Hostess with the Mostest” as Perle Reid Mesta. Mesta was an American socialite, political hostess, and U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg.
She was known for her lavish parties featuring the brightest stars of Washington, D.C., society, including artists, entertainers and many top-level national political figures.
Invitation to a Mesta party was a sure sign that one had reached the inner circle of Washington political society.
We all know someone like Mesta…
They throw a great party, with incredible food, the guest list is full of notable (interesting, fun, artistic, smart) people, and the hostess herself welcomes you graciously and makes you feel like the guest of honor.
We all look forward to the get-together’s that the “Hostess with the Mostest” puts together, feeling honored to receive an invitation. As soon as you walk into the door you feel the warmth and excitement in the room. The Host pulls you into that warmth, letting you know how much your presence is appreciated. You never want to leave and are looking forward to the next soiree, well before departing from the one that you are currently attending.
The position of Restaurant Host/Hostess…
Think about your favorite place to go for dinner. Does the Host greet you with warmth when you walk into the door? Do you feel welcome? If you frequent this establishment often, are you recognized when you enter?
Although the Hostess did not specifically invite you, having a host with the qualities that made Perle Reid Mesta “The Hostess with the Mostest” would be the perfect start to an incredible evening.
Over the past 30+ years…
I have worked every position that restaurant work offers: server, bartender, cook, dishwasher, hostess and manager. Each position is important to the dining experience, but the Host/Hostess may be the position that holds the most importance.
The Host is the person that you first see upon entrance and the last person that you speak with before leaving. They set the tone for your visit. You may have your favorite server or bartender, giving you exceptional service once you are at your table, but having a relationship with your Host can make your visit even more enjoyable.
Starting at the Beginning…
Making a reservation. Many people dislike calling the Host to reserve a table. We hosts, ask a lot of questions. In today’s world of texting, tweeting and instagraming, we like to have things quickly, and we like to have them accomplished without wasting time talking to another human being.
But the questions that we, Hosts, ask are designed to enhance your dining experience. Most of it may seem elementary to you when making the reservation, and attempt to rush us through the call, or avoid the Host altogether and make your reservation on-line.
Questions that we ask: “How many people in your party?”, “What time would you like to reserve your table?”, “Would you like inside or outside dining?”, “Is everyone in your party 21?”, “Will you be having dinner and drinks or just drinks?”, “Your last name, first name, and phone number?”. This whole process only takes a few minutes, but it is designed for the customer’s benefit.
“How many people in your party?” We are looking to see how many tables that your party will need to accommodate your guests. It helps us to prepare for your visit, how to schedule the parties coming before you and those who may come after you. We can also have your table ready for you when you arrive, so that we can take you to your destination immediately. (I know that I am a scintillating person, but no one wants to hang out at the Host desk waiting, endlessly.)
“What time would you like to reserve your table?” Most people have a schedule that they would like us to work with, and we do our best to accommodate. On a busy evening 7 pm-7:30 pm is the bewitching time. Almost everyone wants to be seated in that golden half hour. We may tweak your time a bit, asking if you can come at 6:45 pm or 7:45 pm, not to be difficult, we are striving to make your experience more enjoyable. Although there may be tables available at that time, we need to pace our seating so that the items that your order can arrive at your table in a timely manner, and so that you receive the service that you expect. If 100 people are seated within a half hour we know that they will all be ordering drinks and dinner at approximately the same time, this creates a wait time for those items, extending your visit and often your patience.
“Would you like inside or outside dining?” We are in Indiana, I am well aware that the weather can change in an instant, but we have far fewer outside tables than inside, if you think that you would like to dine outside. please specify that when you make your reservation. We can move you inside for inclement weather, but it is far more difficult to find you an available table outside if you have not indicated prior to your arrival-that is where you would prefer to be seated.
“Is everyone in your party 21?” In the state of Indiana if the bar is visible to the public your establishment is given the title of “Night Club”, meaning that customers have to be over the age of 21 to enter. Please be aware of the ages of your guests, we hate refusing to seat you when you have a young diner. And please do not be offended when we ask to see your Driver’s License, we are protecting our employees and our establishment-so that you can continue dining with us in the future.
“Will you be having dinner or just drinks?” We are not trying to shame you if you are not intending to have dinner. Many large parties like to come and enjoy cocktails, for an hour or so, and then move on to their next scheduled event. Knowing that you are heading to a show or concert after visiting with us will help us to serve you in the way that you wish to be served. It helps us to schedule our evening and yours. If you wish to only have drinks we will not fill your table with unwanted menus or spend 5 minutes of your scheduled time expounding on the dinner features of the evening.
“Your last name, first and phone number?” Many people want to rush through the making of their reservation, we have a program to follow and if you allow us prompt you, it will go much quicker. When we type in your last name the software brings up everyone who has had a prior reservation with the same surname, typing in your first name allows us to see your past history with our establishment. We can see where you normally like to be seated and if you are a VIP (frequent guest). If so, your phone number is also listed, making this process stream-lined. Some people are wary of giving us a phone number, we will not call you unnecessarily-but we will call to confirm your reservation and if you leave something behind (purse, credit-card, umbrella), to save you hours searching for the item, or eliminate the stress of cancelling your credit card. We will also call to confirm your reservation the day of the event, many people forget to call us when their party increases or decreases, or when they have changed their plans. At this time we will adjust or cancel your reservation for you.
Making a reservation online…
May be quicker and save you from speaking to a live person-who will ask you the above questions, but you will not be able to state your preferences, which may lead to disappointment. When making an on-line appointment many fail to realize that we have to adhere to the age limitations of the State of Indiana, we understand your disappointment and frustration when we have to turn you away, it is as disappointing to us as it is to you.
When you make your reservation online the software chooses your table from those available at the time, you do not have any input about your seating. Many patrons are versed in our set-up, and know exactly where they choose to be seated, when making an on-line reservation you do not have the option to choose. Frequently in the heat of the prime seating time a reservation will pop up in the queue, with very specific instructions in the notes from an online reservation: “We are on our way now, needing a table for 9 people, outside, upstairs, with 5 children.” We are knee-deep with clients walking in the door, multitasking as quickly as possible, we see the reservation and realize that we do not have any tables available upstairs outside, they have all just been seated, and beyond that…we cannot seat children. We look for the phone number listed and call, we want to let you know as soon as possible…but the number that you have given us is to an office that is only open from 9 am- 5 pm.
Attempting to be “The Hostess with the Mostest”…
Is more difficult than it seems, much more is going on behind the scenes enabling us to walk you to your table and present you with menus returning to the host area to greet the next guest. We work hard to make it seem simplistic. We want to greet you, ask how you are doing, and lead you to your preferred seating area-all without a hitch, but quite a bit of work goes into making it appear as if this is a job that a kindergarten child could do with ease.
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