At the Beefsteak and Burgundy club, guests are invited to join in the fun, food, friendship and educational aspects of regular dining events. Gail Woodward of the Townsville womens’ chapter, fills us in on their adventures each season. For more information about the group, go online to 



Have you ever marvelled at how smoothly a night out to dinner went? Or had the opposite experience and felt that everything was so difficult and awkward? Why is this so? My theory is, that it is linked to how well staff are trained and inducted, and what established systems are in place.

Let me give you some examples. When a new restaurant opens, we ‘foodies’ get very excited and, gathering our friends together, we make a booking only to experience teething problems or inconsistences on the first encounter. Remember the old saying about first impressions being lasting impressions?

Don’t get me wrong, I love trying new dishes and experiencing the ambiance of a recently opened dining venue, or sampling the coffee at any one of the many coffee traders around Townsville, however my patience can be sorely tested if the basic service is poor, waiting periods are long and staff can’t answer simple questions about the menu or wine.

Recently, I ducked out to run an errand and thought I’d grab a quick coffee to go. I politely asked what the expected wait was… ball park figure? The barista said she couldn’t be sure and wouldn’t like to say, but that the orders were moving quickly so it shouldn’t be long…terrific! Within minutes the queue grew exponentially, and I realised the barista was making coffees (hot and iced) for both takeaway and all the people sitting at the tables inside. She was not on her own but seemed to be the only person capable of filling all the drink orders. After 15 minutes I tried to cancel my order, but she insisted she was about to pour mine… ok. Another five minutes went by and still no coffee. By now, I was feeling anxious (could have been my coffee withdrawal kicking in), and when the coffee finally arrived, I had to practically run to the car.

Then there was the time my daughter and three friends made a booking, arrived on time, only to be asked to wait for the one staff member who could seat them while that staff member was also the only person who could take payments and issue accounts. They waited in line for 20 minutess to sit at a table they had booked well in advance!

What these type of encounters create, is an uncomfortable irritability that lingers …as well as the relaying of the experience to others.

Multiskilling staff and establishing clear, tried and tested systems, as well as collecting feedback and reflecting on the service provided, are all useful ways of upskilling and differentiating your business from the multitude of others out there.

Townsville has many food establishments which do this well, making it easier to choose where to spend my time, and money.

What about you?