“May I have some water, please?”
I still remember my early days at catering college: Food and Beverage Practical Class where the module was ’Service of Water’. I remember thinking to myself as to what they’d teach us about serving water that I probably wouldn’t already know about, considering how simple the topic sounded. However, it’s been over ten years now and till date I haven’t forgotten what that one class taught me: Serve from the right, right food forward, left hand behind the back, pour with a steady flow, leave a gap of an inch and hold position for two seconds. This was the technical part of it and is still etched in my head. But what really stuck out was the way my F&B faculty actually explained the importance of ‘Serving Water’. He asked us all a simple question – what’s the first thing that you offer anyone when they come to your house? Quite a few people answered in unison, “water, water”. What he managed to do at least for me was to get the point across loud and clear, that “water is a basic need, which we must fulfill even before the guest asks for it”.
“May I have some water, please?” – is a question that I am having to ask way too often, when I enter a restaurant, these days. And it’s not like I sit, and before I can breathe, I ask for water; I give them their time, they offer the menu even maybe take the beverage order, and it’s then that I know that they’re not going to get me water unless I actually ask for it. It bamboozles me and in my mind I’m left asking myself, “what’s the deal?, have they been asked not to serve water until the guest asks or have they plain and simple forgotten.” I’m pretty sure it’s the latter because ‘hopefully’ no restaurant in their right mind would tell its associates to only serve water when the guest asks for it!
Then there are restaurants where I would get served water when I sit down but my glass getting refilled without me asking for it is like my boss giving me a holiday without me even asking for it!-Very rare
As a customer, this wasn’t something I had paid much attention to earlier, as I am not in the ‘drink eleven glasses of water everyday’ category. It was only when a friend who was particular about all of this, pointed it out a few times at multiple restaurants, when I actually started to pay heed and be more observant about this. And she was right! This was not a one off phenomena, but instead occurred quite regularly.
I also have an issue with a barrage of questions to ascertain water preference:
Q1. Would you prefer regular or bottled water?
Q2. Would you prefer room temperature or chilled?
Q3. Would you prefer still or sparkling?
All this just to serve me water which according to me is a need, more than a want?! Whatever happened to, “May I offer you a bottle of chilled water?” And if I do want otherwise, I will specify, but please, oh please, don’t put me through this ordeal for water!
I don’t think the rules of the game for ’Service of Water’ have changed since I graduated from catering, and there is really no rocket science behind this one. But as I mentioned, it’s the basics of service that restaurants in Delhi NCR are not getting right and this is just another one of them – although it’s a little more technical in nature but equally important.
Watch this space for more!
Customer, Hotelier, Restauranter and Hospitality Trainer