The 2007 Zagat survey for the SF Bay Area is out. I could be mistaken but it seems that with sites like Chowhound and eGullet and the ever-growing community of bloggers (food and others) that this is less of a big deal than it used to be. I certainly didn't hear anything about a repeat of the Zagat forum on hospitality that happened a number of years back. It was actually a pretty good bunch of panels and at least a few things some of the presenters said have stuck with me. Notably, Nick Peyton saying he looks for dysfunctional (why isn't it spelled disfunctional?) people when hiring servers, saying that "people pleasers" tend to be more concerned that the diners are having a good time. And, someone from the Union Square Hospitality Group talking about hiring a "type" rather than hiring solely based on need or qualification. Every restaurant has a personality and that personality needs to be balanced. If the entire staff is upbeat and cheerful you might need someone more serious to add another note to the restaurant's personality. These remarks have helped when dealing with some of our difficult employees. Seeing their less desirable qualities as characteristics the restaurant needs (since we almost always seem to have one of a certain type) rather than character defects makes it easier to handle them.
Back to the Zagat. Even though its influence seems to have waned, early fall is still something of a nail-biting time for every restaurant listed in the guide because unlike Trip Advisor or a website, the ratings are there for the entire year. And because the survey respondents are encouraged to make "pithy" comments some of the snippets are less than flattering, even those which appear in the context of an overall good review.
I've written before about my feelings about the survey, particularly the sense that once numerical scores are established they don't seem to change much. I'm still curious how many responses are needed before you lose the triangle denoting low response (which we did this year) and how responses are tallied in the case of those with the triangle. It seems a lot easier to rack up high scores with low response. The tops for food in our area has low response and I'd bet the entire staff plus a few loyalists stuffed the ballot box. Not that the food isn't good but it definitely doesn't deserve the high ranking.
At any rate, there's much for us to love about this year's description of our place. And our numbers for service and decor went up a point. I'll leave it to you detectives to find and read.