Let’s be honest here – we all know that Omaha has an amazing restaurant scene. This is no secret to us, and apparently word is spreading because people outside of Omaha are hearing it too. Enter Jennifer Moleski, a restaurant industry consultant who uses her years as a sommelier and trainer to help restaurant service teams figure out how to be great.
Jennifer started a tour last month that is taking her all around the nation in a quest to visit with the best restaurants and see what makes their service teams tick. So, of course, she wound up in Omaha and visited with four of our best eateries to add to her ongoing blogumentary. She spent one shift with the service team of each restaurant and watched what they do and how they do it.
Not surprisingly, she had really good things to say about each place she visited here.
“I really liked Boilerroom,” says Jennifer. “I liked the layout and the team that’s there. They’re very professional. It’s like a perfect mix of hospitality, genuine kindness and warmth, mixed with absolute professionalism and dedication to the job. I enjoyed them very much. Their moves were very elegant and thoughtful.”
The Grey Plume
Jennifer noticed right away that there is a huge emphasis on sustainability at The Grey Plume. “Most businesses and restaurants are just a long shadow of the owner, so whatever the owner’s vision is, that trickles down. I really got the feeling that everyone on that team really loves participating in sustainable actions.”
Leave it to a sommelier to sniff out a restaurant that takes pride in their wine. “Their wine dedication is probably the strongest that I saw. All of the restaurants really loved wine, but the team at V. Mertz really wants to go in the right direction with wine knowledge. They have a great chef, but they also want to have that wine knowledge to back up the dinner selections with a great wine. So I think their big thing is knowledge.”
A little taken aback by the unexpectedly warm, family-like feel of Dario’s, Jennifer says that she liked the overall neighborhood feel. “I typically go to white-linen places, so Dario’s was the most interesting Omaha restaurant for me. Really, what I’m finding on this tour is that most restaurants want to be known as the neighborhood restaurant, but this really was! They just know their clientele. From what I understand from talking to the staff, this was a place where people go to eat and have a good time, and the staff really embraces that.”
Maybe Nebraska really is “nice”
Jennifer noticed an all-around trend among the Omaha restaurants she visited. Not only were they all very welcoming to her, but they all spoke very highly of one another. “There wasn’t any smack talking about other restaurants,” she says. “It was all, ‘we love them over there!’ and ‘we love what they’re doing over there!’ It’s rare, and it’s a sign of a great restaurant community. They don’t see it as competition; they see it as collaboration.”
“This is a crowded nation, so for me to have heard about Omaha from people all over the country, you guys are doing something right.”
Jennifer hopes to spread the word that service is important in the restaurant industry. “Everyone is writing about chefs. There’s nothing wrong with that. If you turn on a TV right now you’ll find a chef show, and that’s great because the more excitement that’s generated about a profession, the better the profession becomes. People take it seriously. I think there needs to be a movement for the service team. Nobody’s writing about servers and that makes me so sad. As a server of ten years and a sommelier and a trainer, someone who’s worked on really great service teams, I want to give kudos to the people in that profession. And I kind of want to let them know it’s OK and great to be a server. This doesn’t have to be transitory. It can be your job. It can be your profession.”
Remember, when it comes right down to it, you probably spend more time with your server than you do with your food. “I don’t know how much time you spend with an entrée, but it’s only a brief moment in the hour when you’re sitting in the restaurant,” says Jennifer. “The food plays a part, but really, the one-on-one experience with a server, or with a service team, that’s what feels either good or bad.”
Learn more about Jennifer’s restaurant service blogumentary: www.iamwaitress.com