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Behind the Scenes: Server Hope Walden of Canoe

2_11_HopeWe’re sticking with the theme of romantic dining this week. You may have read that Canoe was one of our “Romantic Dining Spots” picks, and its no surprise why. Beyond the atmosphere, the service is a reflection of the establishment’s expertise. We wanted to see what it is like from the other side. Five-year veteran server Hope Walden shares her experience serving at Canoe.

You’ve been working here for five years. Why have you stayed at this restaurant for so long?
When I greet tables I jokingly say, “Welcome to my home.” I work five days a week, both lunch and dinner shifts.

You really must have a grasp on how the restaurant runs by this point.
They don’t have anything tangible to take away from here so we hope that the memories from their dining experience goes with them.

The servers know their stuff. How rigorous is your training?
It takes two weeks to go through training and then a month before servers are on their own. One of the hidden facts about our service staff is we know every ingredient in every dish, down to the salt and pepper. We teach them the right way from the start because there is no excuse other than perfection. There’s our way or there’s no way.

This sounds like more than just a part-time serving job.
The service staff takes our job very seriously. We have a blessing to be very proud of what we do here. It’s a lot to learn and it’s not for the faint of heart. We recently had a server realize this was not for her when we were describing the migration patterns of swordfish with our guests. She said, “I don’t know that,” and we told her, “We can teach you if you stick with it.”

It must be nice to have guests who are passionate about the food system.
Our guests are really open to our suggestions, but it puts a lot of pressure on us because we hope they like what we suggest.

What do guests see in Canoe that makes it a good date place?
The lights are dim and in the summer, the gardens are lit up and the river bar is open, so it looks almost magical. I have to remind myself daily when I go in to work that people don’t see this every day. It’s so close to the city but you feel like you’re so far away. It’s a nice retreat.

This has been known as an engagement place. Any good stories?
We’ve seen everything from “will you marry me” written in chocolate with the rings on the plate, some people set up candles in the garden for their dinner and they go out in twilight to get engaged. Typically we know about it in advance because they’ll call us and it feels nice to be a part of such a special moment.

By Alexa Lampasona for the Food & More blog

4 comments Add your comment

Dave

February 11th, 2014
6:25 pm

Enter your comments here

Dave

February 11th, 2014
6:27 pm

Oops on the first “post.”

My last time at Canoe the server spent most of his time trying to earnestly but ineptly up sell us. Pretty much anything that cost more than what we asked about was his “favorite” that we just had to try.

Elliot Garcia

February 12th, 2014
4:31 pm

Maybe it’s just out of your price range, Dave…..

Dave

February 12th, 2014
5:19 pm

Nope Elliot, just aggressive service.