The Harvester in Haywards Heath has a special new recruit.
The popular chain restaurant in Beechurst Gardens, Butler’s Green Road, has taken on comedian Rhys James, who was named as one of the funniest people on social media site Twitter last year.
The English stand-up comedian has been training staff on comedy tactics and conversation starters to add some fun into its customers’ dining experiences.
He said: “I once worked in a restaurant and my banter never received the appreciation it deserved, so it was great to live vicariously through the Harvester team. It’s the ideal situation – if they get a laugh, I’m a genius. If they don’t, then it’s all down to their poor delivery!
“Some of them have done really well with their own improvisation, but I’m secretly going to put this down to my excellent training too.”
Due to so many being distracted these days over dinner by social media, texting or thinking, the comedian has carried out a ‘Rib Tickler’ training session to help the family restaurant bring people together over a bite to eat.
Hazel Laughey, who has worked at the Harvester for six years, said: “I’ve been part of plenty of training sessions but never one quite like this.
“We’re trained to create ‘feel good moments’ for guests, but this taught us the value of using comedy to improve our guests’ dining experience, which was the extra cherry on top.
“Admittedly, I was nervous at first, but once the guests started to laugh, it certainly gave me a buzz!”
The restaurant chain conducted a recent poll on Twitter, which revealed the top dining situations people felt could use some humour and 845 people gave their opinions.
Those with screaming children made the top, with 34 per cent voting.
Fellow diners too distracted by their phones to have a conversation came second, with 26 per cent voting.
An awkward date came third, with 21 per cent and a boring dinner with family made last place with 19 per cent.
Rob Pitcher, divisional director at the Harvester, said: “Our ethos is based on ‘feel good dining’ and we believe that training our staff in comedy will help bring family and friends closer together.
“Introducing more humour to the server and guest relationship is something we consider very important. We want guests to know that if they go into a Harvester, they will not only be served delicious food, but they’ll have a brilliant experience too!”
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