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A Day in My Shoes
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Episode 4 - A Day in My Shoes

Monday, April 1st 2013 @ 11:57 AM

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A Day in My Shoes – Hostess with Jackie - at High SocieTea House, Wayne, NJ – February 21 & 24, 2013


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Welcome to A Day in My Shoes – a blog and sometimes vlog as The Tea House Times publisher, Gail Gastelu, puts herself in another person’s shoes for the day – going behind the scenes in the tea industry!  If you are just joining us, go to the Archived entries in the left column to catch up - beginning with January 2013.  OR Click HERE for a complete listing/directory of entries and topics.

 

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EPISODE 4

Hostess with Jackie at High SocieTea House, Wayne, NJ

On February 21 and February 24, I played Hostess with Jackie.  The 21st was a Thursday night and I told Bernadette that I could be on duty from 4-6.  The 24th was a Sunday and I went in for just a few hours on that date as well.  So I arrived about an hour early to get ready and help the kitchen and servers with anything they needed as well.  First I scooped lemon curd into individual serving dishes.  Then I made their version of clotted cream with Michael (we will talk about that another day in a tutorial).

To prepare for Hostess duty, I was asked to get a “book” just like the servers carry, and prepare a list of the day’s menu and specials.  Normally the procedure is to ask the cook what’s on the menu for the day, but Michael had just started using a large white board in the kitchen, listing the day’s menu and number of guests being served, so all I had to do was copy down the details.

The procedure for the hostess is as follows:  Greet people and check them in on the reservation book. Show them where to place their coats. Check to see if their table is ready. Lead them to their table. Give menus to each guest and ask if they had been there before. If they are already familiar with the menu, then less is said about the tea menu.  Explain the menu choices, teas and the daily specials including what types of scones are being served that day, quiche of the day, soup choices, and the ingredients in the salad. Present a selection of featured teas in small sniffing cups…..this is fun and completely random. When it was my turn to select the teas, I did try to make them complimentary to the foods being served that day. But sometimes the teas are selected for a seasonal taste or even a fun name of the tea. As you can see in the photo, High SocieTea offers a large selection of loose leaf teas.

Once guests have been seated, the hostess is to inform the servers which tables have been seated and that they would soon be ready to order.

In between people coming in, the hostess’s duty is to answer the phone and return calls to anyone who left messages while she was busy with guests or who had left messages the night before.  Now you can imagine how busy that gets if on a busy day they are serving 90-100 guests.  The phone rings constantly for reservations, changes to reservations, party inquiries, party deposits, and so on. 

When people are nearly finished eating, their server will inform them that they may take their time but that their check will be waiting up front.  Guests pass through the gift shop area to the front desk to pay on their way out. The hostess takes their money and places server tips in a bin with little drawers marked with each server’s name.  When a guest pays, they may pay separately or together and any other items they are purchasing may be rung up at the same time.

I made quite a few phone calls and answered the phone as much as possible.  It was very busy trying to do all these things at one time.  Now you know why you get an answering machine when you call almost any tea room.  Even as well staffed as the High SocieTea House is, there are times when it is impossible to answer the phone.

I learned while taking reservations that they allow 2 hours per reservation. I also learned a little about booking parties there. The parties are three hours long and available from 11-2, 3-6 or 4-7.  A deposit is taken to hold the party date. Approximately one month before the party, they settle the menu and choose four teas…..

Now, you will see some video of me using the cash register/POS system and checking people out.  I will warn you it is a bit like watching paint dry and makes this post a little longer than I had anticipated, but I learned so much that day that I have been having conversations with other tea rooms looking for POS systems….now that I have experienced this, I was able to recommend the system used at High SocieTea, it has made for a lot of interesting conversations lately. I understand their inventory and check out procedures much better now.

 

If you would like to visit High SocieTea House yourself,
Call High SocieTea-reservations required: 973-696-8327
Location: 20 Old Newark Pompton Turnpike, Wayne, NJ 07470 (highsocieteanj.com)

 

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