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Michael Muser, general manager at Chicago's Grace, explains the dossier-compiling and Facebook-stalking behind exceptional service.
Before You Arrive
We start a dossier on you. The second we take your reservation, we note your area code on caller ID, then Google your name and city. We open the diner-notes section on OpenTable and jot down everything we find: your job, your likes and dislikes. A recent example: Upon Googling, I learned a diner has a pretty intense food blog. First thing the guy does is pull out a notepad. We sent that blogger an extra amuse-bouche and a dessert. Do we take extra care of foodie customers and ignore the other guests? Of course not.
During the Meal
We try to surprise you.We saw on social media that diners coming in one night were huge U2 fans, so I sat them in our server Kelly's section, knowing that she's a U2 nut. Sure enough, it came up in conversation at the end of their visit. We once had a guest tweet out to Curtis [chef Curtis Duffy] that he was excited to eat at Grace, even though he was sick with a fever. When he left that night, we packed up a big container of chicken noodle soup for him. He freaked out.
After You Leave
We write up a report. It's the server's responsibility to take notes on each diner's experience: You have a strong love for Sancerre, for example, so the next time you come in, we'll swap out a Muscadet pairing for the wine we know you like. I'm well aware this all must seem a little creepy. Stalkerish. But if I can enhance your experience, I'm going to do it. It's my job.