Many of the responses to my recent review of Horne & Dekker (I thought the food was eh, defenders think it's extraordinary) have centered on the warmth of the staff and owner Shawn Horne, who apparently functions as a front-of-house manager.
"I challenge you to find another restaurant in town where the owners will personally greet you, take the time to stop by your table, say goodbye and actually remember you when you return," Dallas Dame writes.
I was never the beneficiary of Horne's hospitality - he skipped our table on one visit and made a perfunctory stop on another - but have no doubt his presence has contributed greatly to many guests' experiences.
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Veteran restaurateurs will tell you that having an on-site owner is among the top predictors of an eatery's success.
But Horne's approach raises an interesting general question: Just what should a restaurant manager do when he's on the floor? Diners have clear expectations of their servers, but tend to devote less thought to the manager's role. Should a manager spend service shaking hands? Greeting guests at the door? Or should he be in the dish room, making sure the kitchen doesn't run out of ramekins for salad dressing?
Obviously, a great manager would do it all. But since that's nearly impossible, I'm interested in what you consider a restaurant manager's top priorities. I'm guessing servers and diners will have different perspectives on this issue: When I was a server, it drove us nuts when our gregarious manager engaged guests in lengthy conversations about sports and summer homes instead of expediting the food piling up in the window. His affability probably bumped up our tips - and earned the restaurant the sort of devoted customers who'd protest negative reviews by unimpressed critics - but we were too focused on our tasks to notice.
What do you think? Has a restaurant manager ever made your meal - or significantly detracted from it? At Restaurant Utopia, what would the manager do?