10 Things I’ve Learned Working At One of the Busiest Restaurants in the World

I’ve been an employee at The Angus Barn in Raleigh, NC for nearly 12 years. I was originally hired as a bus boy and quickly moved to the waitstaff. In the past few years I’ve joined the Wine Cellar staff, which is basically the Top Gun of food service.

The Angus Barn consistently ranks as one of the highest volume restaurants in the world. Here are 10 things I’ve learned in my 10+ years of service.

10. Going the extra mile always pays off.
Every time I’ve gone the extra mile its always paid off. Its not just me either. There is a very steady stream of hand written letters and emails of people acknowledging Angus Barn employees who changed a flat tire, got them fresh batteries for their camera, or got an emergency wedding cake baked and delivered at the very last minute. These types of stories get shared, especially in a world of terrible customer service.

9. Give people free stuff till they’re happy.

When you serve a large amount of people, you are going to get some people that just aren’t satisfied. The Angus Barn has a long tradition of “comping” food or entire bills to make things right. In fact, if there is ever a question of giving a table free dessert for being unhappy with their food, we always just give it to them. This shows them that we are eager to make things right and that in an age where companies tend to not care, we do.

8. People want authentic experiences.

The Angus Barn is a restaurant made to look like an old barn. While this is a great example of something inauthentic, you’d be surprised to hear how many people bring in guests from out of town and explain how it used to be a “working barn with cows in side”. There is, however authentic southern hospitality over flowing from the Barn, and people notice and comment on it constantly.

7. Wine is better than beer.

I knew absolutely nothing about wine when I joined the Angus Barn team. But I quickly realized how important it was to to the identity of the Angus Barn itself. The Angus Barn won the Wine Spectator Magazine Grand Award first in 1989 and has won every year since. I have personally sold over $5,000 in wine in one night (I’ve probably never topped $100 in beer sales). When it comes to food wine pairings, the restaurant has given us such a great education to rattle stellar recommendations with ease.

6. Meritocracy creates loyal employees.

The cream of the crop rises to the top. ….Or it really should, but we live in a world of nepotism and game-playing within organizations. The Angus Barn has been known to promote people at lightning speed to very high positions that show tremendous promise. This results in every one stepping their work ethic up to high levels.

5. People love well done steak.

Yeah…also with ketchup.

4. Taking your dog to a restaurant for his birthday is something people do.

One dog in particular has been here for his birthday five years in a row. On a sad note, some one has brought in their dog for his last meal before being put to sleep.

3. When the power goes out, keep things rolling.

The power went out, we kept seating and serving out patrons. We were handwriting their orders to give to the cooks, hand calculating their bills with tax percentages included, and swiping credit cards on old fashioned carbon copy paper. The exhaust fans for the grills were out of commission without power so we grilled steaks out behind the restaurant with propane. The customers were in awe that we kept moving and it is something they won’t soon forget.

2. If you get a big tip, keep it to yourself, especially from celebrities.

Let’s just say there was a viral incident when a certain celebrity left a nice tip.

1.Customers notice when you stay open no matter what (snow, hurricane)

This relates to the perseverance shown during the power outage, but goes a little further in the hearts and minds of those in this community. When people were stranded on the highway in their cars, the Angus Barn not only opened, but opened early to give these people a place of refuge. When travelers are stuck in town because a storm cancels their flight, they can always count on the Angus Barn for a hot meal.

I am still an employee at the Barn and plan to be for a long time, but even if I leave it will always be a part me.

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