An elevated restaurant experience with Marvin Alballi

An elevated restaurant experience with Marvin Alballi

Marvin Alballi is an award-winning food and beverage executive. With over two decades of international experience managing franchise chains, celebrity chef restaurants, independent establishments and global hotel F&B operations, he tells us more about his book “Restaurant Excellence” and the secrets of the trade.

 What are the main differences between F&B service and hospitality?
In the restaurant industry, F&B professionals often refer to both service and hospitality as “guest service.” However, there is a major difference between the two. Understanding the difference and embedding the principles of both in your restaurant team’s mindset can take your guest experience to new heights. Service is a function, while hospitality is a feeling.
Service is when a waiter brings food to a guest. However, how that waiter greets the guest, remembers their name, their favorite dish and makes them feel valued is hospitality.
You can get service from any service provider, such as banks, supermarkets, clothing stores, car repair shops and even from ATM machines, but hospitality is experienced through friendliness, positive vibes and a cheerful, genuine and welcoming attitude.

What are the top tips you would give restaurants seeking to achieve long-lasting and memorable F&B guest experiences?
Here are my top tips:

  • Go above and beyond to answer and satisfy guests’ requests.
  • Show genuine interest when you serve and speak to guests at their table.
  • Make recommendations that will encourage guests to come back more often. It’s not about making them spend a large amount of money. It’s not about the average spend / check average; it’s about curating great dining experiences, building loyalty, and repeat visits. Profit-driven establishments can make more money by increasing repeat visits rather than focusing on the check average.
  • Remember guests’ names, their favorite tables and any special requests from previous visits. Many people know it and but very few actually do it.
  • Your personality and personalized approach matter. Customization makes a difference.
  • Each guest has different needs. Never approach your tables with a “one size fits all” attitude. A couple on a date requires a different service style from a group of professionals having a business lunch.
  • Remove the word “customer” from your vocabulary. In the foodservice industry, we serve, treat and welcome “guests.”

You are COO of FGB Corp, author of “Restaurant Excellence,” the winner of the US Fortune 500 Company Award Winner, and the creator of TTP – Comprehensive Restaurant Revamp Program. Which title is the dearest to your heart and why?
I’m grateful for everything I’ve achieved in my career, but my favorite title is being the author of “Restaurant Excellence.” It was a long and exciting journey that lasted almost four years. I was very fortunate to have 28 high-ranking industry professionals assist me in writing the book. Restaurant company CEOs, highly experienced chefs, top designers, financers, trainers, service and hospitality leaders gave me valuable feedback and added great value to the book. “Restaurant Excellence” gave me the opportunity to share my 25 years of experience with people around the world.

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About author

Rita Ghantous

Rita Ghantous is a hospitality aficionado and a passionate writer with over 9 years’ experience in journalism and 5 years experience in the hospitality sector. Her passion for the performance arts and writing, started early. At 10 years old she was praised for her solo performance of the Beatles song “All My Love” accompanied by a guitarist, and was approached by a French talent scout during her school play. However, her love for writing was stronger. Fresh out of school, she became a freelance journalist for Noun Magazine and was awarded the Silver Award Cup for Outstanding Poetry, by The International Library of Poetry (Washington DC). She studied Business Management and earned a Masters degree from Saint Joseph University (USJ), her thesis was published in the Proche-Orient, Études en Management book. She then pursued a career in the hospitality industry but didn’t give up writing, that is why she launched the Four Points by Sheraton Le Verdun Newsletter. Her love for the industry and journalism led her to Hospitality Services - the organizers of the HORECA trade show in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jordan, as well as Salon Du Chocolat, Beirut Cooking Festival, Whisky Live and other regional shows. She is currently the Publications Executive of Hospitality News Middle East, Taste & Flavors and Lebanon Traveler. It is with ultimate devotion for her magazines that she demonstrates her hospitality savoir-faire.

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