Being a server at Birk’s Restaurant for four years has been a privilege and learning experience. It is far more than just an ordinary food service waiter job; it is a chance to learn about and experience different cultures and walks of life. While Birk’s Restaurant in Santa Clara is known for its hard-wood grilled steaks and chops, our fresh seafood, cocktails and awesome wine list, beneath the surface lays a service team and managerial staff that truly cares about the guest experience. While our guests come to eat, it is the upscale casual atmosphere and professional but courteous staff that makes the dining experience beyond exceptional. We all know that there are plenty of restaurants in the area, many of them serving quality food just like we do. However, we focus on the relationship we have with our guests, and that is often where we succeed the most in pleasing our patrons.
During my time at Birk’s I have seen things that at seemed peculiar until I discovered the reasons behind them. I have seen business travelers who fly in from across the country, often times from New York or New Jersey. I have seen groups of men and women from London and Japan, often times stopping at Birk’s on their way to or from the airport.
One of our regular guests who comes to the restaurant during the week usually has suitcases, laptop bags and two or three other guests in tow. As it turns out, he flies in from Ohio twice a week because that’s his sales territory. And apparently, so is Birk’s – his guests are actually clients, and he brings them to Birk’s because he knows we have the wine he likes, the food he likes, and that we will be attentive without interrupting his meetings. Speaking of business, I have overheard on more than one occasion, a businessman remark to his first-time guests at Birk’s, “Birk’s is the gauge of the market – if Birk’s is busy, the Valley is doing well,” referring to Silicon Valley, of course.
But while the majority of our restaurant can look like the suit-and-tie crowd, particularly during the week, we have local guests that have been dining with us for decades, and first time patrons as well even though many of them joke, “I’ve passed by the sign on 101 millions of times, but I never came in!” The weekends are a great time for our first time diners and our return patrons, as it is generally a little quieter and there are usually fun events near Birk’s Restaurant, like a Shark’s hockey game or an event at Levi’s Stadium or Avaya Stadium. Season ticket holders love us because they know we provide a good meal, good drinks, and a quiet dinner before or after the game – and we respect their time constraints while still providing an excellent meal with quality and attentive service, as opposed to being rushed in and out. There is usually a table available or space at the bar on the weekends. And of course, we have the sports games and pregame shows being aired on our television sets. Plus some of the bartenders and waiters have fun stories about spotting many of the players and coaches in our restaurant as well – yet another sign that Birk’s is the place to be. But for those not into sports, Birk’s Restaurant is also a great place for families and “date nights” on the weekend. Our staff is happy to be at work and we are proud of the food we put out. We focus on our guests no matter what, and getting to know people on the weekends is a great time to form bonds and talk about our menu a little more.
One of my favorite things to do is introduce returning guests to their next favorite dish. It creates a bond between the diner and the waiter, but it’s also a fun thing for us, because we have tasted all of the food, helped develop the plating and chose some of the sides for the entrees. And of course we do continuous beverage training, so we all know what’s new and exciting from the bar – whether it’s a new high-end whiskey that we have a limited supply of, or a cocktail that our bartenders have been making a lot of because it is a seasonal hit or just an old classic. And with an always-expanding wine list, we also know what wines are drinking really well right now – we are not trying to simply sell stuff so we can make room for something else, or because we have some sort of incentive to sell it. While our diners surely appreciate this kind of attention, they may not know that it feels great for us to give that kind of service because we see great service as a reflection of ourselves.
So whether you’re a first time diner or a returning guest, whether you’re alone, with a date or significant other, group of friends or business associates, I can attest to the fact that the wait staff at Birk’s treats everyone with the genuine enthusiasm, care, and respect that we would want to be treated with when we go out with our friends, families, or colleagues. From the moment you walk in the door and our hosts greet you with a smile and offer to check your bags or suitcases for you, to when you sit down and order the first round of drinks or a special bottle of wine, to that juicy steak that hits every tastebud with flavor sensations and creates a sensory experience you can only get at a fine steakhouse like ours – remember that the waitstaff is not just here to make tips or to sell food or beverages that need to be rotated out. Instead at Birk’s, thanks to our long legacy of quality and commitment to excellence, you can count on a genuine, heartfelt service to accompany a world-class meal.