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Most informed staff: 

Fid, 1569 Dresden Row, 422-9162 and Grabbajabba, 5475 Spring Garden, 423-1651

No matter what your business, it’s the people on the front lines who have direct contact with the customers and make the first (and ideally, lasting) impression—whether you’re Grabbajabba, purveyor of quick coffees and snacks, or Fid, one of Halifax’s fine dining restaurants.

The other day, Fid co-owner Monica Bauché was planning a training session with a local sommelier. “Each time the menu changes, the wine list changes,” Bauché says. “The staff will learn about the wine, what grape is used to make each wine and the way in which it compliments the food.” Servers learn what goes into the dishes and how they are prepared—without having to excuse themselves to the kitchen to ask. “We change the menu very often, and every day is a learning process,” says Bauché. “We all taste the food, wine, sauces and emulsions. One must know how things taste to properly describe it. We insist on that.” But professional and efficient doesn’t mean stuffy. “Dennis and I love having people at our house, and Fid is an extension of our home. It’s not even work for us. We’re having fun.”

Around the corner at Grabbajabba, the pace is a little quicker: Co-manager Kristen Sweetland estimates that 400 cups of java in various forms are served there each day. “Latte is definitely the most popular specialty coffee,” says Sweetland. “I think people are a little intimidated by other kinds of coffees, but we try to educate them about what we have and the differences between each type.” Staff are trained on the different beans and grinds, and eventually they undergo hands-on testing. They’re also required to know about the menu items, and have a list of contents nearby to accommodate anyone with food allergies. The Grabbajabba philosophy according to Sweetland? “Customers are first, bussing tables is second and everything else is third.” —Heather Nicholson
(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)

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