You see in the movies the couple entering an expensive restaurant and upon reaching the Maitre d’, the man gives his name. The Maitre d’ haughtily looks over the reservation list and says, “Ah, Mr. Smith, table 5 is reserved for you.” He efficiently whisks the couple to the table with a linen towel draped over his arm, seats with a flourish and the disappears. That’s what happens in the movies but what does a Maitre D’ really do in the real world?
A Maitre D’s main duty is to oversee the operation of the dining room. This involves supervising and managing the reservations desk. They would also manage the hostess station, dining room captains, wait staff, bus people and any other person employed in the dining room. The Maitre d also greets and escorts each guest or group of people to their table. They may explain the day’s special or have the wait staff do it. If the restaurant does not have a wine steward, then the Maitre d has to be familiar with the wine cellar to be able to recommend a wine to go with the chosen meal. The Maitre D visits each table to make sure the guests are content and happy. If there is a problem, it is handled immediately.
A Maitre d also schedules employees, arranges parties and events, makes sure that the employees set fresh flowers on the tables. The candles have to be lit, napkins folded and the table set properly. They usually work evenings and weekends. A full time position usually receives vacation, sick leave and medical insurance benefits. The salary of an experienced and capable Maitre d’ averages about $45,000 a year plus tips. Free meals are also included and if working at a resort, other amenities are often offered.
A college degree in hotel management or experience in the food service industry is helpful when filling out a resume. On the job training also will qualify the prospective employee. Knowing a foreign language is a plus as well as knowing the ins and outs of wines. A number of years of experience as banquet manager is also good to have when seeking this position.
What about skills and personality traits? Having good communication and people skills are necessary. A Maitre D has to have knowledge of table service and menu items. Having good leadership skills and time management skills is a must. Maitre d’s need to be polite, friendly, honest and reliable. They have to be able to motivate staff and work well under pressure. A well developed sense of follow up and the ability to handle crises is also a key point for this job. They also need to be reasonable fit and healthy because of spending long periods standing.
So as we can see, the Maitre D’s job is more than just sitting someone at a table. It’s fast paced, stressful and full of responsibility….not at all like the movies! Table for one, please?
By Linda Lee Ruzicka
Linda Lee Ruzicka lives in the mountains of Western PA , happily married and with her 8 cats and three dogs. She has been published in Twilight Times, Dark Krypt, Fables, Writing Village, June Cotner anthology, The Grit, Reminisce , the book, Haunted Encounters: Friends and Family. She also does freelances work for Beyond andHospitalityjobsite. You can read more of her blogs on Hospitalityjobsite blog.