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Tablesetters Lead, Diners Follow

Setting America’s Table.This is the brand that you built.We start the New Year with this new message in our logo as tribute to the vitality and leadership of full-service restaurants.The FSR brand is a reflection of who’s reading our magazine, and whether you’re a chef with your own restaurant, the owner/operator of a restaurant group with multiple concepts, or an executive in a fast-growing chain: You’re first and foremost an entrepreneur dedicated to hospitality.

People Matter

Horrible hours. Physically demanding. Constant turnover. There’s no sugarcoating the realities of working in a restaurant.Still, people remain passionate and loyal about working in this industry—at least according to the most extensive workforce study in decades that was released by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) in September.

Role Models

Three o’clock on a Sunday afternoon and I’m in a mall-based California Pizza Kitchen.At this hour, servers and staff far outnumber diners in the restaurant. I order a flatbread snack and my husband orders a club sandwich—add cheese, scratch the avocado.

Fine Lines

Breakfast concepts, sports bars, family diners—it seems every restaurant wants to claim upscale status.As a simple adjective, perhaps it works. But as an industry segment, upscale has its own measures to be met.

Missed Manners

The night before I received an email titled “Summer Camps to Teach Children Restaurant Etiquette,” my husband and I had dinner at an upscale-casual Italian restaurant.A family of four at the table beside ours was celebrating the dad’s birthday.

Income Inequalities

In the South, we’d say the young woman waiting tables was blessed with the gift of gab.It was March 20, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament dominated TV screens in every sports bar, and at one Buffalo Brothers’ location the personable waitress was not missing a single service op as she chatted up tables, delivered orders, and replenished beverages before any glass went dry.

Nature and Nurture Matter

The first soapbox I ever jumped on was animal protection. I was about 10 at the time, and my dad took me to the organizational meeting for our town’s ASPCA chapter, where we became charter members.

Reader Choices

It was at least the hundredth nomination for a rising star that I’d read. I recognized neither the person offering the nomination, nor his company, nor the chef/owner being nominated. But the story of an entrepreneurial chef who turned a $250,000 business into one approaching $2 million at the end of its second year in a new location—and turned the economic tides in a small town at the same time—caught my attention.

Telling Moments

Noise reigned: Between the kitchen and bar, roughly a dozen people were busily prepping for the night’s service at Washington’s acclaimed minibar.We were seated in barmini, Chef José Andrés and I, beside a door that opened into the kitchen of the adjoining minibar.

Milestone Year

Those crystal ball projections that said sales in the full-service portion of the industry would top $277 billion this year appear to be on track. And in July, almost 60 percent of our readers told us their sales were ahead of the previous year.

Bare Necessities

What can you not leave home without?For Juan Coronado and Carlo Splendorini—two of the amazing cocktail wizards recognized in our Toast to 20 Best Beverage Programs—what they can’t do without is their jigger.

Measures of Success

In the town where I live one of the historic homes, circa late 1800s, has passed from one restaurateur to another in the 15 years we’ve been here. The expansive front porch, aged wood floors, and nostalgic fireplaces drew me in—but I returned only when the food was as satisfying as the setting.

Leaders Learn from One Another

Gender inequality has rarely been a personal soapbox for me—I grew up with four brothers and learned early on to ignore the odds and just assert myself.But sometimes statistics give me pause. A newscast last month noted the national gap in gender pay is roughly 23 percent; so I went digging for details.

Gender Positives for Restaurant Operators

One of the things I love most in an interview is the unexpected answer. Like hearing Van Eure, owner and operator of The Angus Barn, describe herself as a teacher.Van is the consummate business woman and omnipresent restaurateur, with a commanding and sophisticated presence.