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There’s a pivotal episode in season two (“Every Second Counts”) of The Bear (on Disney + via FX) in which Richie (superbly portrayed by Ebon Moss-Bachrach) is spending a week at Ever, a three-Michelin-star Chicago restaurant, so he can understand what it takes to be maître d’ of such an establishment. Richie, naturally cynical, is annoyed by having to wake up before dawn to meticulously clean forks; a task he sees as a ridiculous level of detail.

Over the week Richie is won over by the passion, skill, teamwork, and attention to detail of the restaurant’s staff and becomes a convert to their high standards. He experiences the deep satisfaction and joy of delivering an exceptional customer experience to the restaurant’s patrons, many of whom have booked months in advance and saved for just as long to experience a night of dining at Ever.

There is something quite intoxicating about watching passion, skill and attention to detail delivered in the service industry, especially the volatile hospitality sector. It’s compelling television so much so that last year pop culture website The Ringer called it “…one of the best episodes of television this year.”

I don’t often have the pleasure of observing such passion, skill, teamwork and attention to detail at close quarters but tonight I did; at an entirely unexpected venue.

I am in Christchurch to deliver a training session tomorrow and staying at the local Rydges.

After a couple of hours of preparation, I wander downstairs and decide the hotel’s bar (Bloody Mary’s) would do just fine for a drink and dinner.

Dining alone is an opportunity to catch up on a bit of reading so I took a book to pass the time.

I didn’t need a book. All the entertainment I needed was to watch the staff in action.

The staff were completely absorbed by their work. I was barely waiting three minutes to be served and I received an apology for having to wait. I ordered my drink and my meal and sat down.

Less than ten minutes later my Classic Fish & Chips arrived. It was a generous size, cooked perfectly and delicious. One of the staff came over to enquire whether it was to my satisfaction (it most certainly was).

He took my drink order and promptly returned with my Peregrine Pinot Gris (also exceeding my expectations).

As I eat I am transfixed by the staff’s complete focus on each patron’s needs and the accompanying tasks they each complete to deliver what the patron wants.

A (young) waiter picks up a glass of wine that’s been served by the bar staff. He’s about to take it to the designated table. He looks closely and sees something about the glass’s cleanliness that displeases him. Although I can’t hear him he obviously requests a fresh glass and there is no discussion about his request – the fresh glass is immediately forthcoming. Now satisfied the bar’s standards have been upheld the waiter dispatches the drink to the waiting patron.

I watch one of the staff confidently and quickly handle a slew of orders. I later learn it’s his second week at Bloody Mary’s.

The leader of the team is obvious.

Malcom (I later learn his name) is utterly present to his responsibilities. From his appearance and accent Malcom is almost certainly a first generation New Zealander, most likely from the subcontinent. He’s immaculately attired and moves with fluid purpose. His eyes constantly dart everywhere and nothing escapes his attention.

In the space of one hour I watch him greet customers, take orders, make a cappuccino, deliver drinks, train a new staff member and light-heartedly engage with his team.

The bar was two-thirds full of an assortment of people like me – middle-aged white people in town for business, although there was one patron whose ease of attendance told me all I needed to know about how customer-focused the staff of Bloody Mary’s are.

Sitting by himself having a beer was a man much like me – bald, white, clean-shaven, middle-aged and corporate-looking, except…… he was wearing a dress, high heels and large hooped earrings.

The cross-dressing patron looks completely comfortable with his surroundings and all the interactions he has with the bar staff indicate the staff feel just as comfortable.

Thanks for your leadership, Malcom, it was a pleasure to spend an hour in the company of you and your staff and to witness the passion, skill, teamwork and attention to detail you bring, not just to Bloody Mary’s at Rydges Christchurch but to New Zealand’s hospitality sector in general.

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Mal Stuart

Great story Ross. I also witnessed A-grade team work and leadership recently and marvelled.
PS – you guy was doing us Malcolm’s proud.

Tracey Montgomery

Love this Ross. I also take a book with me everywhere where I go as I’m a fan of incidental reading, but it is quite amazing what you can see and be a part of when we take the time to stop and look. I wonder how many people miss out on what you got to witness because they have their heads down scrolling social media (I am of course very guilty of this so I’m not throwing stones.) This story is reminder to look up.


Great to hear about great experiences, and well told Mr C.

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