The art of running a resturant

I just got back from lunch with my sister at Frontera (La Frontera Mexican Grill, to be exact -- it's in Trussville). It's probably in the running for my favorite restaurant. It's owned by the same people who run Habeneros in Roebuck. Same menu, same food, same prices, same waiters -- it's just a much more upscale location.

The reason I'm posting about it, is just the sheer efficiency with which they are run. I've never seen another restaurant like it. Today I was literally shocked by it. This is no ordinary dining experience where you wait for an incompetent waiter to refill your tea -- this is a whole new way to dine.

Let me try to explain what I mean. You don't really have a waiter or waitress. When you go in, you are almost always immediately seated. It doesn't matter how many parties just walked in, someone will grab you and take you to a table. Within seconds, someone else will be placing chips and fresh salsa (OMG the salsa is sooooo good) in front of you and taking your drink order. They will then retrieve those drinks immediately, and if for some reason you manage to make it a few seconds without a drink, someone else will ask you what you would like to drink. No one is assigned a table -- it's a bunch of very fast, very accurate people running around and waiting to pounce on your every need. Someone will take your order and someone will bring it out. I've probably eaten at this restaurant almost 30 times (and I mean that quite literally) and they've never gotten my order wrong. And as anyone whos eaten with me knows, I'm always switching stuff up. Today I got a lunch number 15 (burrito relleno) with no guacamole, chicken instead of beef, and double on the rice instead of beans. And even though a different person took my drink order and a different person took my food order and a completely different person ends up bringing it out... they always get it right.

And don't think you will ever run out of drink. The second you start drinking, someone's already there top off your glass. Your glass will always be topped off. And while this might sound annoying -- they don't get in the way at all. There's no interruption in your conversation -- they are in and out before you've even noticed. And apparently they keep track, because they know what you are drinking. And your bill will always be correct too. That's what amazes me.

It seems impossible to me that it can appear so random and yet work so seamlessly. I swear that today we had our food sitting in front of us within 2 minutes of us walking in the door. And believe me, this is awesome food at great prices. If it wasn't awesome, I wouldn't eat there all the time. In fact the perfection of service was our topic of lunch conversation.

I wouldn't expect such great service in a very expensive restaurant, much less one where my entire meal and drink comes out to about 8 dollars. It's like the second you enter, you are swept up and tended by personal servants. Seriously. And the atmosphere is superb -- I LOVE that place.

My sister says it's because of the owner. You'll know the owner -- he's always there keeping the ship and he will stop by your table to make sure everything is perfect. He doesn't put up with crap. He expects them to literally run to your table and if they aren't constantly running and on top of everything, they are fired on the spot. Now THAT'S how to run a restaurant.

Last night I ate at Ruby Tuesdays with a party of 8. We all had simple orders, but she managed to completely screw up 4 of them. I ordered chicken fingers. How hard is that? Two of us ordered chicken fingers. When the food came out she was like "there's 2 orders of chicken fingers?" Yes, idiot. She also ruined the steak orders. The most cooked steak was ordered medium well, she brought out 2 well-done steaks. No one ordered a well done steak. So half of us had to wait on our food. She also continually screwed up the drinks. The service was horrible -- and that's what a lot of restaurants have come to. And then I go to Frontera and I'm simply amazed that such a place can possibly exist. It pleases me greatly to know that the art of service is still alive and well.

And it pays for them -- Oh it pays. The restaurant is always packed -- always. And I'm told that the waiters make a killing in tips alone.

If you are ever in this area, you simply MUST eat there.

Frontera Grill
5974 Chalkville Mountain Rd., Trussville Alabama


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