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‘Fanatical hospitality’ key to success at legendary Commander’s Palace in New Orleans
There’s good, and then there’s great. The restaurant that lands on every go-to list, earns years of raves on social media and boasts a team of genuinely happy employees, is the one that understands the power of hospitality.
In each issue, we’ll highlight restaurateurs whose success comes not from serving up the latest food trends, >but serving up a perfect experience. There’s no better example than Ti Adelaide Martin, co-proprietor of New Orleans’ legendary Commander’s Palace.
“Hospitality is truly the new frontier in American dining.”
– Ti Adelaide Martin, co-proprietor of New Orleans’ legendary Commander’s Palace
From her vantage point at the pinnacle of the industry, running one of the country’s most well-loved restaurants, it would be easy for Martin to rest on her laurels. Instead, she’s armed and ready to lead a revolution whose time has come — the hospitality revolution.
“For years, we’ve overlooked what is at the core of the dining experience, how we make people feel,” she says. “Hospitality is truly the new frontier in American dining.”
In America, Martin muses, service is frequently poor because on some level people feel demeaned serving others. Her solution: Turn it completely around with a concept she’s dubbed “fanatical hospitality.”
“We say it’s an honor to serve and make sure guests have an extraordinary evening. It starts with making a reservation with an actual person who is thrilled to take it, you are greeted at the door with a sincere ‘welcome,’ the food is soulful and exciting, your chair is pulled for you, warmth envelopes you from the servers.”
That kind of experience is possible with perpetual reinforcement. Every employee has an opportunity to practice fanatical hospitality, from the waiter bustling down the aisle holding a tray piled with dishes who graciously cedes the right of way to a customer, to a valet protectively holding an umbrella over a guest during a big storm.
“It wasn’t just that he did it, but it was the way he did it, with great caring,” relates Martin.
Inspired by a fellow restaurateur at the recent American Cuisine & Hospitality symposium hosted by Commander’s Palace, Martin launched a program to recognize “hospitality heroes,” with the conscientious valet as the first awardee.
“We plan to make a real fuss over him,” shares Martin, “put up a big picture of him, give him a gift certificate and let everyone know how much this matters.”