I’ve started researching for a couple of features for Vancouver magazine this week. One of them is on restaurant service across the city, which as I’m sure you’re aware can range from the outright deplorable to the superbly air tight. I’m taking it as an opportunity to work shifts at three different establishments that will hopefully reveal to readers some of the different kinds of styles and philosophies represented in the more fascinating coves of our restaurant scene. One of these will be the soon-to-open L’Abattoir in Gastown.
It’s my hope that participating in service through the prism of a hotly anticipated restaurant opening will prove of interest on several levels, not least because the exhilarating systems check that is opening night is something that only happens once in a restaurant’s lifetime. It’s then that you discover what works and what doesn’t, and when experience steps in to calibrate.
Staff orientation began yesterday, with the fourteen member front of house crew (several familiar faces) in their civvies listening to co-owner/chef Lee Cooper going over the menu, wine guy Jake Skakun explaining the list, and bar manager Shaun Layton (interview) presenting his cocktail list in a room that was still very much under construction (see pics below).
Though I wasn’t umbilically attached like the other staff, I was still a little nervous. It had been about 10 years since I’d done any sort of orientation in a restaurant, and nearly four since I hung up my apron and started writing full time. I’d like to think floor work is “old hat” or like shoes I can just slip back on whenever the fancy strikes, but the butterflies suggested very much otherwise. Good times…