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5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome to Trotter's World
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...
Published on Jan. 20 2002 by Brian

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A bathroom-reader on service...
As an hospitality professional that aspires to deliver world class service, I was expecting a little more than the handful of nuggets I found buried in the monotony of this basic survey of Charlie Trotter's operations.

I feel that those readers who are unfamiliar with the behind-the-scenes operations of a restaurant, this book may be enlightening. It gives...
Published 16 months ago by Reader


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5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome to Trotter's World, Jan. 20 2002
By 
Brian (Chicago, IL USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Lessons in Service from Charlie Trotter (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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5.0 out of 5 stars In the Service industry? Then you have to read this book, Jan. 13 2002
This review is from: Lessons in Service from Charlie Trotter (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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5.0 out of 5 stars Service first, March 16 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Lessons in Service from Charlie Trotter (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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4.0 out of 5 stars Terrific content, a little lacking in presentation., Oct. 17 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Lessons in Service from Charlie Trotter (Hardcover)
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A bathroom-reader on service..., April 24 2013
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This review is from: Lessons in Service from Charlie Trotter (Hardcover)
As an hospitality professional that aspires to deliver world class service, I was expecting a little more than the handful of nuggets I found buried in the monotony of this basic survey of Charlie Trotter's operations.

I feel that those readers who are unfamiliar with the behind-the-scenes operations of a restaurant, this book may be enlightening. It gives great tips on how to apply Trotter's unique management style to other businesses, which, in other industries, may be revolutionary. For someone who has worked in a restaurant for their entire career, explaining what an expediter's role is in the restaurant is not the sort of insight I was looking for.

Admittedly, since this book was published, there have been many advances in restaurant management ideology, but there was virtually nothing "new" (to me) in this volume. Trotter certainly employs a set of techniques that when demonstrated by a highly-involved leader and strong personality will create the kind of environment that has made Trotter's world famous. I may have found this book more inspiring had I read it at 18 when entering the industry, but now it's rather wrote.

Furthermore, the book has a clumsy flow that reminds me of a daily calender or "devotional" where you are intended to read a two-paragraph inspiring story about "how Charlie does it" each day. Most pages are structured like this: "Take situation A for example. You might expect solution B or C from other customer service based industries, but not at Charlie Trotter's. Trotter uses solution D instead, and that's why he's been so successful". It's draining. I've also purchased Lessons in Wine Service and I'm dreading reading it. I can't decide whether I should read it fast in one day to get it over with, or leave it in the bathroom and work through it over the next 6 months.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Restaurant insight generously shared, Feb. 18 2009
By 
Che Chi Liu (Montreal, QC) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Lessons in Service from Charlie Trotter (Hardcover)
A bible for restaurants who seeks success in terms of service. His management style can also be applied to any other workplace. An inspiring book.
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0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Want to know what your wait staff really thinks????, March 10 2004
By 
Steve M. Smith (Detroit, MI United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Lessons in Service from Charlie Trotter (Hardcover)
I'd recommend a book by author Matt Lehman called "Clam Chowder: A Server's Field Manual". The book is a realistic, funny, clever and insightful read. I couldn't put it down. It will give you a glimpse into the mind of servers everywhere. I'm not sure if it's available on Amazon, but it is online at [...]
I haven't worked in the restaurant for years, but Clam Chowder brought back a flood of memories for me. I have read it twice since I first got it. My book has now been passed on to at least 7 other people. They all agree, Clam Chowder is the best restaurant book ever - told from a server's perspective.
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Lessons in Service from Charlie Trotter
Lessons in Service from Charlie Trotter by Ed Lawler (Hardcover - Nov. 28 2001)
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