Monday, July 23, 2012

A Waiter To Remember

For some reason, walking the streets in Denver I was suddenly in the mood for sushi. Sushi far away from the nearest ocean. Sushi in a city not at all renown for Asian food. I stumbled into Sushi Sasa, a bright modern space on the downtown riverfront and was ushered to the last empty seat at the sushi bar.  I was nearly immediately greeted by a young man offering drinks and advice on the menu. He managed to occupy that all too rare space between friendly and obtrusive. He astutely notice the dishes I had ordered and suggested some I might like based on my selections. He clearly knew the menu and was enthusiastic about the food.
My waiter suggested a seared tuna roll (made by my very friendly and skillful sushi chef Jesus, pictured above). Honestly it was not my favorite and I left half uneaten. My keenly observant waiter inquired and I admitted it was not to my taste. Later when the bill came around he had taken the offending roll off my tab. I protested. There was nothing wrong with the roll, it just wasn't my thing.
"We have really good food," my waiter replied. "We don't need to sell you food you don't like."
I've long believed that the front of house -- restaurant hosts/hostesses and wait staff -- are just as important as the food. They set the mood, make customers feel welcome, and essentially create the lasting impression of the restaurant. The impression that keeps customers coming back. In truth the sushi was pretty good (the uni special was divine), but as good as some of the places where I've eaten in LA or Tokyo or even London -- no. But, my waiter made Sushi Sasa a place I'd happily come back to. I may go again before I leave town. He was a waiter to remember. I only wish I could remember his name.

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