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Lessons in Service from Charlie Trotter Hardcover – November 28, 2001


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"No restaurant in America comes closer to delivering a flawless total dining experience." —Wine Spectator"Every day at the restaurant is a journey. We consider the day a success if we can answer yes to a simple question: ‘Have we improved today?'" —Charlie Trotter

About the Author

EDMUND O. LAWLER teaches journalism at DePaul University and is the author of five books. He lives in Chicago, Illinois, with his wife and two sons.

 THE AUTHOR SCOOP

What's the history of your name?My last name is a distillation of my ancestral name O'Leathlobhar, which is Gaelic for half-leper.What was your first job?Out of college, my first job was as a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago. I got to cover cops, politicians and crooks. Some of the categories overlapped.If you owned a horse, what would you name it?Mr. EdWhat's the farthest you've ever traveled?I traveled to the Persian Gulf in 2004 where I taught journalism for two weeks at the University of Bahrain.What did you want to be when you grew up?I wanted to play shortstop for the Chicago White Sox.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press (November 28, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580083153
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580083157
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.7 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #32,383 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

This book is about how he runs his restaurant and the service provided there.
Philip A. Sonnier
I have never eaten in Trotters restaurant myself, but reading this book, I can practically taste the food and feel the atmosphere.
"tonycram"
I definitely recommend this book to anyone that is in the service industry and looking to better themselves.
Michael Fernández

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By "tonycram" on January 13, 2002
Format: Hardcover
My business career has been in the service industry, so I've read a lot of books about giving brilliant service - books full of fine phrases, but they don't show "who has to do what to whom" to make it happen. Ed Lawler's book really shows you how to make it happen.
Lawler evidently lives in the real world. He has got inside "Charlie Trotters restaurant" - one of the legends of good service way beyond Chicago. But this is not a "hymn of praise" sort of book, it's open about the problems, challenges and shortcomings as well.
His starting point is that good service is an accumulation of little things done right, and he goes right into what those little things are. Example: Chapter 5 Learning the Ropes shows how role play and feedback are far more effective than a service manual, how shadowing by a senior mentor actually works, how to use complaint and compliment letters in staff meetings. Chapter 6 has some great stuff on treating first time customers well and returning customers differently (because you know their preferences).
A unique feature of this book is the section on getting backroom staff to collaborate seamlessly with front of house people (page 128-141). The 12 point checklist on page 141 is a gem - applicable across the whole service industry.
A minor nitpick is that the quote from Dostoevsky appears twice, but aside from that, the book is excellent. I have never eaten in Trotters restaurant myself, but reading this book, I can practically taste the food and feel the atmosphere. I thoroughly recommend this book
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Brian on January 20, 2002
Format: Hardcover
While I've never had the privilege of dining at Charlie Trotter's famed Chicago eatery, I was absolutely enthralled with the vivid portrait journalist Edmund Lawler paints in "Lessons in Service from Charlie Trotter." This is Lawler's second outing in Trotter's famed kitchen; his previous book, "Charlie Trotter's: A Pictorial Guide to the Famed Restaurant and Its Cuisine," is another great behind-the-scenes look at the culinary master. But instead of focusing on bread and circuses this time out, Lawler effectively pulls away the curtain to reveal just how Trotter continues to stay in the upper echelon of culinary masters. From managerial techniques to customer satisfaction, "Lessons" gets to the heart of Trotter's business, and how he has managed to stay at the top of his game since 1987. The book is helped immensely by reactions from Trotter's service staff, leaders in the restaurant industry and the chef himself, who believes that empowerment and a keen eye on every detail is the key to success in any business. While some may unjustly dismiss this book as "just another restaurant guide," many of Trotter's techniques (especially those about first impressions at an interview) are germane to most any business where service is the No. 1 priority. Sure everyone knows that the customer is always right, but if Lawler's book is any indication, Trotter knows how to make customers feel "right" more than anyone else in the business.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 16, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Among the many differences between Charlie Trotter and a thousand other gifted chefs, the one that sets his Chicago landmark apart from the crowd is fierce attention to service, as Edmund Lawler points out in this wonderful survey of the Trotter philosophy. Waiters at Charlie Trotter's have no manual, but they strive to follow the Golden Rule - treat customers as you would be treated, not just in general, but in every tiny circumstance. Not only that, but Lawler also points out, Trotter's senior servers enjoy full health care coverage, $2 employee meals and a sense of responsibility. It's so simple, really. Trotter treats his employees as he would be treated. Lawler lays it all out in a readable and succinct fashion, with each chapter backed up by handy "service points." Whether you're running a restaurant, an airline, an investment bank or a lemonade stand, you could learn from reading Lessons in Service. Oh, if only more service business managers would!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Cowboy on the Ocean on September 26, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent for any manager in the hospitality industry. With hundreds of management books out there, very few deal with this industry, which is one of the most dynamic ones in the world. While not a true management book, it does offer lots of insight and ideas for those in the industry. I highly recommend this book.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 17, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book stresses the value of service, attention to detail and the customer experience. These are all very important and it is wonderful to see that someone still has an appreciation of them in this world that at times seems to have left even common courtesy behind. I am somewhat disappointed that the book was not produced to the exceptional standards that Charlie Trotter boasts in it's pages. It is somewhat redundant and contains many misspellings. Even when recommending Sotheby's Wine Encyclopedia, the authors name is spelled Stevens instead of Stevenson. The print quality, paper and layout are great. The editing, spell-checking and typesetting need much improvement to be five-star quality. Terrific content, a little lacking in presentation.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Lessons in Service from Charlie Trotter
My coworker recommended this book to me. I took her recommendation due to the fact that she is a great customer service provider. It didn't disappoint.
I've never had a chance to visit Trotter's and it looks like I won't because they have closed their doors since this book was written. I think there are a lot of great examples of extraordinary customer service in this book. I work customer service for a large coffee supply company with a small staff. There are only about three of us that answer the phones to help people with their orders.
Answering the phones is always a surprise, sometimes it's someone having troubles with an espresso machine and at other times it's as simple as syrup pumps. After reading this book and seeing how the staff at Trotter's deals with their customers and Trotter himself I can't help but be better for my company. The things they go through to deliver the best service they can seems crazy at times ie. driving patrons home in their own cars during a blizzard. But they do it and they really believe in bettering themselves and their industry.
If you can get over the fact that at times this books reads like an advertisement there are a lot of things to learn. I definitely recommend this book to anyone that is in the service industry and looking to better themselves.
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