You probably didn’t expect the future of refined dining to emerge from a Melting Pot chain restaurant in Durham, North Carolina. And yet, if you take the News & Observer, a North Carolina daily newspaper, at its word, that’s exactly what you’re looking at.
The Melting Pot (along with other bourgie chains such as the Cheesecake Factory) is drilling the essentials of good waitering and waitressing into its new hires. Some of the commandments for the world’s new elite corps of waitstaff, as articulated by the News & Observer:
1. Don’t point with your finger.
2. Don’t talk too much. It irritates the customers and increases the number of chances for you to look like a buffoon.
3. Know your food. If a customer asks what’s in a particular dish, have a comprehensive answer handy.
4. Raw food is referred to as “uncooked.”
Along with the advent of gas-station cappuccino, the thoughtful training of professional waitrons at places like P. F. Chang’s and TGI Friday’s is a minor but significant sign of civilization slowly oozing forth from New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and other bastions of old-school culture. More relevant, it’s a sign that good service is being recognized as an economic asset-– at this point in time, it takes more than yet another version of a giant batter-fried onion to turn a one-time customer into a regular.