Lessons Learned at Dinner

I spent this past weekend in NY where I had dinner at Circo, an italian circus themed restaraunt. While Groupon helped with the cost, this was probably the most expensive meal I've ever had. At the same time my visit there surpassed my other dining experiences and then some. This post will serves as both a reflection and a review.

Presentation / First Impressions are Important

Just walking into Circo was enough to see what sets it apart from other restaraunts. You're exposed to the services and allure as soon as you walk in. The hostess was in front of us, coat check was to the left, and bar to the right. The walls were painted with soft lights and ladders spanned across them. Sculptures of animals and wacky characters moving to and fro did even more to give life to the illusion that you were entering a circus. Surprisingly, the front door was the best view. There was no need to stand anywhere else to see what Circo was all about.

Attention to Detail

Every dish of the four course meal I enjoyed looked and tasted fantastic. No picture or description could do it justice, but I will say that the grilled octopus was so tender I thought it was chicken, and when Tiff and I had the Squid Ink Gargenelli, the few words of the pleasure filled silence we had was to discuss how amazing it was.

What impressed me at first was after the plates for our first course was taken away. Our silverware was taken along with it. Before we had the chance to ask for replacements, someone had brought them over from a covered wooden box and placed them down as if the table was being set. My knife which was in the right spot on the table but facing the wrong way was corrected. Wow.

I thought it couldn't get any fancier, then Tiff saw a waiter who brought out our third course. He came to take away the second to make room, and then a manager approached him after coming back to serve the fresh food. There was a quick exchange of words, but afterwards the waiter ended up bringing the food back into the kitchen. We realized that it was because the manager didn't like the fact that the food had spent some time just sitting out, albeit for a few seconds. To ensure quality, the manager tossed about $50 worth of food.

These last details might be because I'm searching for things, but are still worth mentioning. Anyways, there was a gentleman who came by to clear off crumbs before dessert. Also, Tiff and I was wondering why there were two layers of tablecloth on every table. We saw that guests who finished and left had their first cloth replaced for the next ones to come in. We figure it was because they never wanted to allow a table to be bare. Not even for the few seconds it would take to be replaced.

The staff that ran things that night operated as a well oiled machine. Every employee was assigned to each and every guest. We saw multiple faces throughout the night, and the manager at one point even delivered food to us and stopped by twice to see how things were going.

Reflection

If my experience at Circo didn't teach me anything new, it further expressed how important the mentioned lessons are.

As a leader of my lion dance team, a point I always stress is to be prepared. When negotiating a performance, I need to make sure to ask all of the right questions and have the right answers (or at least know how to get them). Communication needs to be prompt, and promises must be kept. I always try to adhere to this professionally.

One difference I noted between myself and the manager is that I do not inspire my teammates to take initiative. I'm not sure if I'd call myself a control freak, but I always need to know every detail and make sure that everyone knows what they're doing. I'd say I've become this way because no one else will make sure otherwise. To ensure success, these points always have to be taken seriously.

On the other hand, the manager at Circo didn't need to tell his team anything if at all. He placed confidence in his team to provide excellent service which gave him the chance to tend to other details:

  • ensuring a positive and friendly dining experience to guests by saying hi

  • being able to provide attention to things around the restaraunt that needed it, like running food and ensuring its freshness

  • keeping an eye on the rest of his team so that they can be helped and corrected when needed.

I need to try and push my teammates to take iniative so that I can place effort into taking care of details that might be overlooked.

Being responsible in making decisions for a group of people, as well as guiding the experience people have with us when we negotiate and perform for clients which influences so much is tough but rewarding. Above all else, the overall experience determines whether we'll be hired again. For my standards, the food and service at Circo exemplified what exceptional service and fine dining should be like. I can't wait to back to New York to enjoy Circo again and learn even more.