The All-important Host And The Next Guy

Jo McGarry
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Wednesday - August 31, 2011
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Jo with the Food Network’s most popular star Guy Fieri. Photo from Jo McGarry

Who’s the most important person on a restaurant team?

Seasoned restaurant pros will most likely argue it’s the dishwasher.

You could make a strong point that, as the person with the most contact with guests during their meal, the waiter is the restaurant ambassador.

And no restaurant is worth its salt without an excellent chef.

But I am increasingly convinced that the most important member of a restaurant team might just be the host. While the food may be fabulous, the wait staff incredible and the dishwasher the fastest and most loyal in the industry, I’m not even going to get to the restaurant if the person who answers the phone is rude or annoying.

Usually the first person you talk to when you call to make a reservation or inquire about the restaurant’s menu, a good host has the ability to make an upcoming visit to the restaurant sound too good to miss. While some restaurants in Honolulu have outstanding front-of-house staff, the general lack of knowledge and poor communication skills exhibited by people who answer phones particularly during the hours before 3 or 4 p.m. is quite spectacular. I only know this because I probably call or visit more restaurants in a week than most people do in a month. Just this past week I have had a hostess tell me that she wouldn’t take my reservation “because we don’t do that,” and another tell my party of four at 6:10 p.m.: “You can have a table if you can get out by 7 because we’re really busy.” Really busy is good, really unable to communicate in a positive, welcoming way is not.

The only reason poorly trained hosts bother me is that they are often the face of a restaurant, and they carry a responsibility to represent their chefs and owners well. While chefs are busy in the kitchen, an inattentive or incompetent host can be turning off customers at the front of the house without anyone ever knowing. And in Hawaii we’re more likely to say nothing and never return. With the kind of near insurmountable problems restaurant owners face nowadays, I urge them all to take care who they choose to become their restaurant’s public face.


three star

If you can’t get dinner together without imagining yourself cooking for a national audience, then hurry over to Sheraton Waikiki this Tuesday where the casting crew from TV’s popular Food Network will be looking for its next culinary star.

“We are so excited to be in Honolulu,” says casting director Jennifer Sullivan. “We are really hoping that our next ‘star’ comes from Hawaii.”

Bring two photos, a resume and your brightest smile.

“We’re looking for someone to be the next Guy Fieri,” says Jennifer. “More than anything else, we’ll be looking for lots of enthusiasm and personality.”

Auditions are being held Aug. 30 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. with more details at

Happy eating!

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