There’s something really special about being a part of something from the very beginning, isn’t there? Witnessing a dream come true as it were. Liane Daigle is a funny and outgoing waitress at Urban Deli, who had no idea years ago that she would become part of the Urban Deli family.
Liane met Liz Rowe, the owner, while the Urban Deli building was still in its renovation stages. They met at a Toastmasters meeting and hit it off.
“We were both from ‘away’ as the saying goes around here and shared some travel stories; that for me was a big score to find someone who shares my sense for adventure. I found myself dropping in to see the progress of the restaurant renovations and drink their wine, all the while putting my two cents in about the overall project as I have a background in construction. I can honestly say becoming a waitress again was NOT on my radar.
“I was a mother of a three-year-old and suffering from a major condition called ‘mommy brain,’ plus the obvious obstacle that it had been over 20 years since I was in that racket.”
Liane was sure that Liz would be hiring someone more ‘perky’ and perhaps less opinionated. However, as the hiring process began Liane offered to help out until Liz found the right staff to meet her vision. Long story short, Liane was kept on the work schedule.
The first few weeks and months were pretty nutty. Liane reminds us that back when she was a waitress in the 80’s there was no fancy restaurant software to keep track of orders; you just wrote it down on your pad of paper and gave it to the kitchen. Nice and simple and that was the plan in the early days of the Deli, too.
Liane’s sense of humour shines through.
“Well, that system worked for about a week before it became painfully clear Liz needed to invest in some ‘sanity software’ as I dubbed it – STAT. Those first few weeks (months?) were brutal. I’m quite certain if we were writing a letter to our best friends it would look like art. But when you fill a restaurant with hungry customers your hand writing goes to $&! and it was up to the kitchen to decipher our chicken scratch that resembled a doctor’s shorthand. The poor kitchen would be getting yelled at by us like an I-95 truck stop, customers were reeling at the thought of having to sit at a ‘communal table’ and the Deli slicer would be whizzing like a high school shop class band saw in the background. It was all music to Liz’s ears as she saw her dream taking flight I’m sure.”
Over the years Liane’s been timed at how long she’s talked to a customer, teased about how long she talks to a customer, thanked for taking time to tell a customer about all aspects of the business, tipped for exceeding customer expectations, as well as winning a service excellence award.
“I can’t speak for the others but I get asked almost daily if I’m the owner. My standard answer is always ‘No, I work like the owner but I get paid more’ and then there’s chuckles and I add there are days I work more and get paid less but it’s still a great job and I wouldn’t change a thing. I love working here and there’s always total agreement from the customers.
“Faking happy in a place with so many regulars isn’t an option. It’s part of why we have the success that we do. Customers love our staff and the ones they didn’t found another place to fake happy at. If there’s one thing Liz makes clear is if you’re not happy go find it elsewhere. There’s been a real core group since the beginning that has really raised the bar in the service industry around Saint John. I hear from the others in this industry around Saint John that we are very unique, but it’s all I know and anything less would be out of sync with the rest of the program. I have to laugh though at some of the characters that have come and gone both on the floor and in the kitchen. A real melting pot of talent that’s for sure.”
Isn’t she too much fun? Come on in and say hello to Liane and the rest of the gang. And stay tuned for more stories like this one in the coming weeks.
(Written by Denise Wamsley of Wildhair.ca)