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Restaurant Data – Assisting Guests With Special Needs

For food and beverage establishments, guest satisfaction is of the utmost importance. Satisfied guests are the key to return business and a source of word-of-mouth advertisement. In both instances, the operation realizes increased revenues as a result of satisfied guests. In this endeavor, there are guests that will visit a food and beverage establishment that have special needs. These guests, like any other, should not only be treated with respect and courtesy, but their special needs should be accommodated.

Special needs accommodations should be spelled out in the restaurant SOP. Our restaurant operation manual is a good source for a restaurant manager to be able to develop their own special needs guidelines for guests. There are a number of areas that should be clearly outlined and addressed, with staff being fully aware and trained on these procedures.

Special needs for a food and beverage establishment would be any guest that needs attention from staff that exceeds normal parameters. This includes elderly guests, small/young children, and guests with disabilities. Some restaurants will also include guests with specific dietary needs or special requests in this category as well. Each type of special needs guest has procedures that are best suited to their care.

For example, with elderly guests, you will want to sit them in areas that have ample lighting and preferably quiet. If you have comfortable seating available, you will want to provide this as well. On the other hand, dealing with children requires a different approach. With children, it is courteous to actually speak to the child directly, but to confirm with the parents (preferably non-verbally or indirectly) on any orders that a child may place. With small children, it is also a good idea to make table snacks (crackers, bread, etc.) available as soon as possible as well.

What is apparent is that it is paramount that staff be aware of the differences that each category of special needs guest requires. Not only, as we have already mentioned, should these procedures be outlined in the restaurant SOP; but training procedures should be in place to make sure that staff are able to identify and provide needed services when required to do so. A restaurant manager is responsible to ensure that personnel are properly aware and trained in providing special needs guest service.

A restaurant manager should understand that the special needs of guests must be taken care of. The restaurant manager should convey this understanding to other staff members. Remember, these guests are as important as any other. Accommodating the needs of special needs guests will only serve to enhance the reputation of the quality service that a food and beverage establishment offers. Additionally, food and beverage operations will realize an increase in return business as a result of a practice that doesn’t require any additionally expense to provide. With proper planning and training, any food and beverage establishment institute these effective guidelines.