You call it a photo-essay, I’ll call it a comic. This week’s New York Times Sunday Review, written by Ben Schott, discusses the impact the long shuttered New York City nightclub, The Stork Club, had on the way waiters and restaurant staff communicate with one another. They were the first to utilize a series of gestures reminiscent to those of a football referee or a third-base coach to get news from staff member to staff member faster than speaking. Today, Eleven Madison Park keeps the New York tradition alive with their own form of sign language.
Everything from the water preference of a table to whether or not crumbs need to be cleared can all be said through signals. When it is time to clear a plate, a gesture towards the chair of a guest will do it. Each and every member of the staff at Eleven Madison Park must be proficient at the unspoken language or else mishaps are bound to occur. They even have a set direction to walk the room (clockwise) and a specific side of a guest they should veer towards at all times (the right). Considering the place is one of the most successful and expensive restaurants in the city, I would expect the best possible service with my meal. Maybe other establishments could learn a thing or two from this method in order to improve the efficiency of their dinner hour?
You can view the full list of signs, signals and directions here. And if you do decide to check out Eleven Madison Park, come on an empty stomach; they only do four-course meals or tasting menus.