Creating the server experience: an ethnographic study in the construction of organizational culture



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Texas Tech University


A small-scale version of politics becomes a central aspect of a server's job. While communicating with a guest in the "front of the house" (FOH), a server must be acquiescent, positive, and knowledgeable. As soon as the server enters the "back of the house" (BOH), or kitchen area, s/he becomes his/her true self. A work ethic, crisis management style, personality, and leadership trait are all observed only within the confines of the BOH. If, for whatever reason, a guest wanders to the BOH, all servers immediately put forth the persona that is created in the FOH. The shifts in attitude are a part of the industry mottos that a guest is always right and a server should always make a guest happy. This is a fundamental aspect of the server job that is instilled in trainees from the first day. Therefore, ethnography of participant observation provides the least amount of subject manipulation within the data.

The goal of this research is to ascertain how servers communicate with one another and the kitchen employees in order to facilitate guests' needs. Also, servers are highly exclusive in their communication and relational rituals. This communication and these rituals may contribute to the success of the restauraunt. How a server is admitted entree to the culture and initiated in the practices becomes a focal point of the research.