A total 45 service people from restaurants all over Zimbabwe have been invited to attend the Restaurants of the Year Awards for 2012 and 2013, which take place on August 18.
by Rosie Mitchell
Finalists for these awards, some have been nominated before, some have even been nominated for the award for both years, and all are very justifiably proud to be on these lists. There are 26 finalists for 2012 and 19 for 2013.
This award was introduced in 2009 as a way to throw the spotlight on those all important people in any restaurant — the waiters, waitresses, wine waiters, barmen, duty managers — people who work long hours, often travel home very late at night, and usually bear the worst brunt of it when patrons are displeased, whether justifiably or not. Most of us have observed patrons in restaurants behaving rather badly from time to time, and taking all their rage and frustration out on their waitron.
This is never a pretty sight, and one which makes most of us cringe, for people can show their worst colours when eating out! There are so many better ways of raising a problem to the attention of the management that do not involve abusing the waiter!
However — what has always impressed me, has been the calm and collected way in which our fine Zimbabwean waiting staff handle such outbursts, with professionalism and courtesy, and they are much to be admired for this ability to stay in control — unlike the patron, in too many cases.
Dealing with this sort of situation must be the hardest part of their job, though in all aspects, waiting tables or at the bar is demanding, and requires a great deal of concentration, retention of information, attention to detail, powers of observation, and an ability to pre-empt the needs of the clients, almost before they become aware of these themselves. It can also be one of the most thankless of jobs — for, to be a really good waiter or waitress, one must seem almost invisible — unobtrusiveness being the name of the game!
Service personnel are on the very front line of the interface between the restaurant and diner, and skilful, friendly, well-trained service staff can so often make the difference between a great dining experience and a mediocre one.
Service accounts for over a third of the possible marks that can be awarded an entrant in the Zoap scoring system, so the burden on these vital staff is heavy indeed! It’s exhausting work, both physically and mentally. Many of us have worked as waitresses or bar staff at some stage in our lives, to earn extra money, often while studying, to help cover our living expenses or finance a holiday, myself included.
As a student overseas, I did both, and the experience gave me a whole new appreciation of the really hard work done by these often unsung heroes. I would end each shift absolutely exhausted, stagger home and crash straight to sleep, and my mental arithmetic when working the bar, has never been as fast or proficient as it was then! So I am filled with admiration for the many really great serving people I’ve encountered over the decades in Zimbabwe.
All these finalists have received special mention and a nomination from a member of the review team, which means they have particularly stood out as performing their job with excellence.
All have received a framed Service Personality of the Month Certificate and at the ceremony will receive a Finalist for Service Personality of the Year Certificate and a special Zoap name badge announcing this accolade. Congratulations to them all, for demonstrating such outstanding service.