OPINIONConsumer Trends

Why every restaurateur should remember Joe Baum

Restaurant Rewind: His touch is evident throughout the business, from putting a sparkler in a guest's birthday cake to proving themed restaurants would appeal even to an upscale clientele.

This episode of Restaurant Rewind is brought to you by Tock.

If you’ve ever wondered who came up with the idea of having servers introduce themselves by name, ponder no more. The lore holds that it was Joe Baum, who was to the restaurant business what Steve Jobs was to personal tech.

And how about the ubiquitous gimmick of having the now-familiar server approach with a giant peppermill, ready to do some personalized grinding? Same guy.

But Baum’s impact wasn’t limited to tableside theater, though he exceled at that mission. Baum was also a key force in loosening up fine dining, sometimes going so far as to give his places a theme, be it Hawaiian or Roman.

And what extraordinary places he hatched: The Four Seasons. Windows on the World. Tavern on the Green.

He was a force that changed the business, often with a style that made him a precursor of today’s celebrity chefs and restaurateurs.

And yet he may be forgotten by a generation that takes Baum’s innovations for granted.

Hit the Play button to learn what a mistake that is for any student of the business. Download this episode of Restaurant Rewind from wherever you get your podcasts.

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