Tag Archive | St. Louis

Soupfly Travels & Training March 2016

Welcome Back to Soupfly!

March has been a very  busy month and I am very grateful for all the amazing opportunities and experiences we’ve had thus far.  This is an update of our month and recent travels.


Getting the  Message of “Getting to WOW!” out

Violette’s Vegan

I have been having great opportunities to speak about and train on WOW! Service & Hospitality and I Am the Guest Experience. At the beginning of the month, I continued with a 4 part Getting to WOW! series for the staff of one of our local vegan restaurants-Violette’s Vegan.  Violette’s is a very new restaurant that serves “food that loves you”, owned by former World Series of Poker Champion Cyndy Violette. They have a very friendly staff who are eager to learn and elevate their Service & Hospitality.  It has been a true pleasure working with them and their commitment is evident in that we meet at 9 pm after the restaurant closes.  Never once have I heard any of them complain about the time, rather, they all show up with eager expectation and with positive energy, ready to learn.  With that attitude and focus, I am confident that Violette’s is on their way to Service Excellence.


Ellis Island Casino & Brewery

Another new opportunity I’ve had to teach WOW! Service & Hospitality has been at Ellis Island Casino & Brewery here in Las Vegas. Locally owned, a few blocks from the world famous Las Vegas Strip, this venue has a management team that truly cares about elevating their Service & Hospitality.  We had the opportunity to teach two sessions (the day before we left for our trip) and although many of the staff sitting in the training have been at Ellis Island for a long time (10-22 years)  each one of them were attentive, focused, and eager to learn what Getting to WOW! is all about.  It’s very refreshing to stand in front of a group that really wants to learn and sees the value in what is being presented.

When an organization’s leadership invests in training their staff, the team (consciously or unconsciously) begin to realize that management actually cares about their success.  This then leads to everyone starting to up their game.  Organizations that don’t see the need or the value of investing in training tend to stagnate and get to a point where they’re just going through the motions.  The Service & Hospitality industry is a very demanding business and it’s not easy to take care of, give great service, maintain a positive attitude towards-your guests all the time, every time.  But when the Service Professional feels that the leadership have their back and want them to succeed, there is a greater chance that they will. Working with the Front of the House team at Ellis Island was a very rewarding opportunity for me and we are planning for more sessions as I write this.

St. Louis Bound

images (3)

The day after the Ellis Island training, Michelle, (my wife) and our 3 puppy babies-Lilly, Carly & Bruno-woke up at 5 am, packed and loaded the car for our long journey to St. Louis, Missouri.  We were traveling there to celebrate Michelle’s father’s 70th birthday.  What made it a ‘long journey’?  Well, for whatever reason, we decided to drive all the way through- 23 hours of drive time-to St. Louis.  Michelle and I took turns driving, the puppies helped navigate-neither Lilly or Carly tend to sleep while we’re driving.  Bruno, our 3 pound Chihuahua, however, made out the best, as he was very content to sit on the lap of whichever one of us was not driving.  Of course, he prefers Michelle’s lap.  We made it to St. Louis in just about 26 hours from the time we left Las Vegas.

Acero Ristorante


Once we got settled in our hotel, I went to see my friend Chef Adam Gnau of Acero Ristorante in Maplewood,-near St. Louis.  Adam is one of the very first Industry Professionals that I interviewed for my book, Getting to WOW!  Not only is Adam an amazingly talented chef and has many culinary accomplishments at such a young age, he genuinely gets what WOW! Service & Hospitality is all about. So, to finally see him since my book came out and to hand deliver him a copy was a great honor for me.  Thanks, Adam for all your input in Getting to WOW!  For my readers who live in St. Louis, if you’ve never been to, please do yourself a favor and go have dinner at Acero in Maplewood-you’ll be glad you did.  And tell Adam, I sent you.

Book Signing where it all began-Paul Mineo’s Trattoria

The next day we had a Getting to WOW! Book signing event at Paul Mineo’s Trattoria in Westport Plaza.  It was while working at Paul Mineo’s, many years ago, that I got the inspiration for writing my book, Getting to WOW! Everybody WINS with 5 Star Service.  And although I learned that the owner, Brigitte, would not be there this time for the event, I did get the opportunity to see her when I dropped by the day before to check out the location. We had a nice event catching up with some family and friends at Paul Mineo’s including my friend Al Danklefsen, who contributed to my book and long time regular-John Pisa who just happened to be visiting St. Louis at that time-and Michelle’s friends- Vickie & Steve.   I also got to see some former co-workers-James, the Chef, Brett the Bartender, and Jose and Roldan in the kitchen.  Michael, Brigitte’s brother, was a wonderful host and we were very grateful for the opportunity to have our event there.  If you are St. Louis, and you wish to enjoy traditional Italian fare in a beautiful setting, then Paul Mineo’s is the place for you.


Family Time


After our event at Paul Mineo’s, the next few days was spent visiting Michelle’s family around St. Louis.  We celebrated her Father’s 70th birthday and also got to connect with other family members-some of whom Michelle had not seen for years. Every day we drove somewhere-one hour outside of St. Louis, one and a half hours out of St. Louis and it was well worth it. To be able to take a trip like this and see so many people over a span of a few days is a blessing.   We even were met with a heavy burst of snowfall on the drive out to her sister’s for Sunday brunch.  It was pretty to see.  It’s always nice to see snow.  I just prefer to not live by it. Thanks to Shannon and Jason and their family for the warm hospitality on that cold snowy day.


Our last night in St. Louis we had dinner with Michelle’s family at the restaurant we had our first date at over 3 years ago-Helen Fitzgeralds in South County.

After 4 days in St. Louis, it was time to begin heading west again.  Michelle’s son, Greg lives in Kansas City.  He is a Social Worker and although we would be driving right thru, his schedule was not going to allow us to see him, at all.  But just as we were on the outskirts of town, Michelle said, “I’ll just text him once more to see if he can get away for a few minutes.”  Talk about being in tune, when Michelle texted him, we were just coming upon the exact exit at which Greg was doing a home visit.  I don’t remember the name or number (of course, Michelle does) but Greg immediately texted her back and said that’s exactly where he was at.  So, we got off the exit and drove  a few minutes to where he was.  Even just for 5 minutes to say hello and exchange hugs-our timing was perfect.

We arrived in Loveland on late Monday evening.  The front desk staff at the La Quinta were very friendly.  However, we wondered why they chose to put us in a room that was immediately in front of where construction would be taking place the next morning at 8 am.  Their reply was that they did not know the night before where they would be starting the construction.  I find that very hard to believe.  It just so happened that all rooms on that floor were unoccupied except for ours.  It was very disruptive and impossible to sleep in the morning (after having driven for 14 hours the night before) and hearing a constant tapping and banging right outside our door.

Great customer service would be to consider your guests situation- are they perhaps planning/hoping to sleep in in the morning?  Perhaps giving them a room that is far from the construction would make their stay more enjoyable.  As I mentioned, the staff were very friendly, but this one aspect of our stay made it less than pleasant. Also, after having requested for a late check out,  both the night before, and that morning, two times in the span of 10 minutes, we had housekeeping knocking at our door at 9 am to see if they could clean our room.  This is NOT WOW! Service.

Contrast that with our stay at a La Quinta in St. Louis, where they too, were doing construction,  but they actually closed the entire floor where the construction was taking place, so as to not be disruptive to the guests.

The front desk staff at the Loveland La Quinta did help me out when  I had asked them where I might find an Office Max or some place similar to make copies for my presentation, but instead of giving directions, they offered to make the copies for me.  Thanks, La Quinta staff.  That saved us time and money.  Next time, please  focus on being attentive to your guests’ need for peace and quiet.

I have much more to share so we will close for now and resume with Part 2  in a couple of days.

I am very grateful for ALL my Soupfly readers from around the world.  I would like to recognize and say Thank You specifically to our March readers from the following countries:  

United States, Germany, Philippines, Brazil, Slovakia, Australia, United Kingdom, India, Czech Republic, Italy, Singapore, Canada, Malawi, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Russia, Viet Nam, Belgium, Indonesia, Colombia, France, Latvia, Slovenia, Portugal, Norway, Austria, South Africa, Spain


Thanks for Reading!  Please feel free to Comment below, Like us on Facebook:


And Share on Social Media.

Elevating Service & Hospitality,

20150322_125412 - Copy

Christoff J. Weihman

ASPIRE Enterprises

Las Vegas, NV















Show Me the Way



download (1) download (3) download (4) download (5)


Here’s a Wow! experience-simple and easy to execute with multiple opportunities to practice it on a daily basis. This will make a lasting impression on your dining guests.


Guest: Excuse me, sir, where is the lady’s room?

Server: Go down the hallway, take a left, when you see the kitchen, go around the corner and take two steps down.  If you see the elevator, then you’ve gone too far.  Back track about 15 feet and take a right. You can’t miss it.  But if you get lost, just come back and I’ll explain it to you again.

images (13) download (6) images

Does that sound familiar? At so many restaurants that seems to be the norm. And I imagine that most people don’t think twice about it.  But really, there’s not a whole lot of service involved there.


Okay, here’s a simple ‘Wow!’ idea taught to me by Mandy, who was the GM of   J. Bucks in St. Louis, when I worked there.  What do they do that is so amazing? Well, for starters, they never tell people where the restrooms are located.  And I mean never.  “What?!” you say, “That’s not very courteous or nice or good service.”   They also don’t ever even direct guests to the restroom.  Instead, they simply SHOW them.   That’s right.  They take the time and they walk their guests to the restroom.  They show them and then there is no getting lost.  There’s no mistaking- did she say left or right at the end of the long hallway?  Maybe it’s because St. Louis is in Missouri which is known as the ’Show Me’ state. I’m not sure.  Certainly not all restaurants in Missouri do this. Maybe it’s actually because the people at J. Buck’s in St. Louis know how much of an impact something seemingly so insignificant can actually have upon their guests.

images (3)


07BARTENDER1_SPAN-articleLarge-v3images (14)images (15)


If a guest happens to ask a bartender behind the bar who is very busy or a server who has a tray of food in their hand, and if that staff member is not able at that moment,  to actually walk the guest, then they will say to the guest, “Just a moment, please, Ma’am.”  Then they will request a nearby colleague to escort the guest to the restroom.  Yes it may seem like a very small thing but the impression is lasting.  Think about it.  If the people at an establishment think that something  seemingly so insignificant as showing where the restroom is is important, it’s more than likely that they take pride in other seemingly small things as well. Like the cleanliness of said restroom.


So, next time your guest asks you where the restroom is, take the few extra seconds and walk them to where it is located.  Or at least close enough that you can then stretch out your hand and say- “right there, sir, ma’am, up that step.”

images (8)images (12)download (2)

Yes, it’s simple.  It’s just walking them to the restroom.  Yes, it will take a few seconds of your time but I guarantee it will definitely make a lasting positive impression on them.   I’m also willing to bet you that more than a couple of them will comment either to their companions or to you how impressed they are.  And their comment will be “Wow, now that is service.” Imagine if they haven’t even begun their dining experience yet but you have just set the tone of, helpfulness, courtesy and friendliness.  They already have a good first impression of you and your establishment.  (Hopefully, said bathroom IS tidy, clean, neat and smelling fresh)


They say going the extra mile is important in establishing rapport with a customer and in showing that you care. Well, I say, how about just going the extra 50 feet?

I rest my case.


Thank you for enjoying this serving of Soupfly.  This post and the last one on Paying Attention to Detials– are actually chapters from my upcoming Best Seller-GETTING TO WOW! First Class Restaurant Service.  Soon, we will be taking advanced pre-sale orders of the book at a special early bird pricing.


Thank you and Cheers!!

Christoff J. Weihman