The Proven Value of Storytelling at the Restaurant Table

Everyone likes a good story. Storytelling is how we communicate and influence people.

Storytelling goes one step further than what you are currently doing.

– Do you want to order the fantastic, juicy steak?

Or order the steak the owner specifically chose because of how she felt first tasting it?

–  Do you want to order your server’s favorite pasta?

Or eat the dish inspired by the chef’s grandmother—the one who taught them to cook?

Especially when you find out it represents the first time they made a change to grandma’s recipe and impressed her by improving it?

–  Do you want to drink that exemplary bottle of wine with the stellar rating?

Or the one chosen by the wine director on that trip to Napa with their fiancé.

On the last day of the trip; they had tasted so much wine everything started to get indistinguishable until this final sip when everything became clear about the best in that varietal?

You get the point.

So why aren’t your servers telling your guests the stories behind your great menu items and beverage selections?

Because you have not asked them to.

Help Guests Experience Your Best Work

The successful owners of independent multi-unit restaurant groups I work with have great energy invested in creating fantastic items, making careful beverage choices, and expecting the guest will find the great ones.

Meanwhile, most guests tend to order what they liked last time.

It does not matter if you have a check average of $9 or $90—you are not truly serving your guests, or yourself, if you don’t expose them to everything you have to offer.

Four Best Steps to Telling Stories

  1. Document Stories. Assign someone to attach compelling stories to menu items and beverage options.
  2. Server Education. Tell stories to the storytellers and direct servers to share with guests the ones they find most meaningful.
  3. Sequence of Service. To your sequence of service, add the expectation that servers must tell at least one story to each table.
  4. Measure. Update your mystery shop criteria to make sure this happens.

If you want guest count and PPA to go up—to offer a heightened experience and protect your restaurants from competition while substantially beating industry growth averages—tell stories at the table.

Over to you. What are the benefits to completing this process? To start, who in your organization will compile the stories?