Posts Tagged New York

The George Factor Spells Customer Service


When Carol and I are in New York City to see a Broadway musical or two our trip is not complete without a pre-theatre dinner at Sardi’s Restaurant. Why Sardi’s?  First it is the perfect spot to dine because the staff knows that we are going to a Broadway show and time is important, but there is a far more important reason. The first time we visited more than two decades ago, the Maitre d’ was George. George was the perfect image for the restaurant – gracious, charming, personable, impeccably groomed, and witty. He made us feel that we were in exactly the right spot and that we were in his personal care for the evening. What a talent! What an experience! George had the ability to make us feel as if we were his only concern. He was absolutely present in the moment with us.

On a subsequent visit just before 9/11 we were disappointed to learn that George had retired. It was a real letdown; however, we still had a delightful time. On our most recent visit I inquired about George and if our waitperson had known him. “Oh yes,” she said. “The patrons adored George, but we hated him.”

“Why?” I asked. “He was so good at what he did.”

“He was a strict task master. He questioned us about the menu items. If you did not know the soup of the day, he would send you home. If he saw you eat something in view of a patron, he would reprimand you. You had to be properly dressed or George would have a talk with you. Don’t misunderstand me. He was kind. He was strict but always fair.” Every detail was important to George. Nothing escaped his notice.

Now I understood why we enjoy Sardi’s so much. It is that absolute attention to detail that seems effortless. There are literally hundreds of places to eat in the theatre district, but most give you that hurry-up feeling. We need your table for someone else. This never happens at Sardi’s. Although the dinning room is full, the atmosphere at Sardi’s remains for the patron calm and relaxed. Everything outside might be in a rush, but not inside.

The atmosphere is such that it promotes friendliness and good will. The walls display all of those caricatures of famous show biz celebrities and of course there is the off chance that you will see one of the stars.  Conversations spring up between total strangers and you share one of those delightful moments that will never occur again. It is friendly and relaxed but never intrusive.

From a customer service perspective, I would award the restaurant five stars. I am not a food critic, but our food has always been excellent, except for the bread pudding which I have learned not to order. If you want bread pudding go to Poogan’s Porch in Charleston, South Carolina.

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Christian Civility Brown Bag Lunch at Chautauqua

Baptist House l will lead a brown bag lunch discussion on Christian Civility at the Baptist House  at the Chautauqua Institution in Western New York State at 12:15 on June 26. The event is open to everyone. Rev. Bud Brown, resident chaplain of Baptist House, said, “This is certainly a topic that is very appropriate at Chautauqua. Mitch’s book,  Christian Civility in an Uncivil World, is  available as an eBook at Barnes& or or from Publishers.  Mitch is the founder of Say Something Nice Day and Say Something nice Sunday. This will be the fourth year for these discussions.

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Chautauqua Still Enthralls Us

        Carol and I just returned from our annual trip to the Chautauqua Institution in western New York State. We arrived the day after Mayor Joe Riley of Charleston spoke to those attending Week Two; his speech was extremely well received. We heard many glowing comments. We read the printed version in the Chautauqua Daily. The theme was Ethics in Leadership. I was happy to tell the people that we are proud of our city and proud of Mayor Riley.  

            Our friends from Pennsylvania, Bob and Jane Russell and Jerry and Pat Wagner, helped make the week special as did my friend from Furman days, Joan Lipscomb Solomon. My Lunch Bag discussion of, “Renewing Christian Civility,” at the Baptist House was well received. It was co-sponsored by the United Church of Christ Association. There was a lively discussion and a request to do it again next year. As I walked the grounds, people stopped me to talk about the ideas. There were nice announcements in the Chautauqua Daily and the Sunday Worship insert.

            On Friday we attended another lecture on, “Is Civility Only for the History Books?”  It was extremely well done by the director of the New York Archives. He chose five examples of civil discourse to illustrate his point. Of course, I had an opportunity to comment.

            The Rev. Craig Barnes, Presbyterian minister from Pittsburg, was the minister of the week and was outstanding every day. The Sacred Song Service on Sunday night was truly wonderful. The music centered on the theme of James Weldon Johnson’s, “God’s Trombones.” We heard lectures every day both morning and afternoon on Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Israel, Palestine and China. There were symphony concerts Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. Mark Russell entertained on Wednesday night and Dancing with the Stars performed on Friday night.

            Carey Cottage, where we stay, has the best porch on the grounds. The food leaves much to be desired. It is safe to say that no one goes to Chautauqua for the food except the spiritual type. The nightly trip to the ice cream stand is the only palatable reward. We did share a nice picnic at the Disciples of Christ House. The Methodist Church has a good $6.00 lunch each day. If you go, pack a lot of snacks. The program is so outstanding and the fellowship so great that one willingly endures the food.

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Stop Talking – Listen – Key 3

Listen Actively – Listening is much more than the absence of talking. Because you are not talking does not mean that you are listening. Listen with your entire body including your eyes.  Listening is a skill. Develop it. It will serve you well. Many of us have developed the talent to look as if we are listening when in reality our minds are some place other than concentrating on the present. Stay with the speaker, the music. Experience the sensation that truly listening brings. Jesus said, “Those who have ears to hear, let them hear.” There is no way to remember what you did not listen to when it was presented. A taxi driver in New York City said, “I am not as smart as people think I am. I have learned to be an intellectual thief. I have learned to listen to everyone.” He has discovered one of the great secrets to a successful fulfilling life. Follow his example.

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