Recently, I had the privilege of dining at Per Se in NYC for the first time. What an incredible experience. Much has been written about Thomas Keller and his exceptional restaurants (French Laundry in Napa, Per Se in NYC, Bouchon bakeries, etc.) and their impact on fine dining globally, both through the chefs who have worked for him and through his cookbooks – although I can barely spell sous vide, not to mention know how to operate a machine effectively.
My dining companions and I were reflecting on the evening and the lessons from a services perspective:
- Passion – we were seated at 8:30pm on a Tuesday night. After being open (and full every night) for 11 years, one might think that the service quality would vary. While this was our only time at the restaurant, we were amazed by the passion that our service team displayed throughout a 4-hour evening, which felt to us like it was opening night. They apparently bring their best each and every night.
- Teamwork – in addition to our service captain, Tevana, and sommelier, we counted at least 11 different service members who delivered meals, presented the ingredients, cleared the table, presented wines and chocolates. The service, professionalism and charm of the staff certainly elevated the overall experience.
- Quality – there are many food and wine critics with greatly superior palates, but to us, the quality of the food along with the paired wines were simply fantastic and perfectly proportioned. The attention to detail and service ware that included creative dishes and stacked plates made for an excellent presentation.
- Expertise – while we certainly didn’t “drill” our servers with questions, the knowledge of the staff and sommelier was impressive. Any question or request was handled with ease. It reminded us of the slogan, “The answer is yes, and now what is the question?” Of course we were paying for this level of service and expertise, but it’s wonderful when your already high expectations are exceeded!
- Brand – Every part of our experience and the overall layout (entry way, sitting area, restaurant space) supported their positioning as world-class. The view of Columbus Circle and Central Park, the fireplace, nicely spaced tables (especially by NYC standards) and incredible flower arrangements all reinforced the quality of the food, wine, service, and the overall experience.
These are really hallmarks of any services firm or establishment. It was a real splurge, but truly worthwhile – certainly worthy of its three Michelin stars and global acclaim. Also a great reminder of what it takes to excel in a highly competitive service industry. A dinner and evening to remember. Thank you Per Se!
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