Approachable elegance. That's the look and feel management of The Dining Room at the Hilton Short Hills , NJ was aiming for when it recently re-imagined its wait staff uniforms. The makeover went part and parcel with the fine dining establishment's reinvention. Out went the heavy-handed décor and stuffy atmosphere. And out went the dated, uptight-looking tuxedos.
As the only AAA Five Diamond restaurant in New Jersey, The Dining Room was taking a bit of a risk fiddling with an established success. But it was time, says Edie Turna, director of sales and marketing for the hotel. “As our culture and the business traveler in particular have evolved, dressing more casually and more casual in their approach to fine dining, we thought it was time to relax and lighten up the look of the room — make it a more approachable elegance.” Heavy fabrics and traditional English hunting prints were traded for lighter fabrics and more contemporary art. An acoustical guitarist replaced the harpist.
When reconsidering the wait staff's attire, management first replaced the tuxedos with a traditional suit (at this time the staff is all male). But it still didn't look right, relates Turna — “they looked liked accountants.” Turna turned to a resource practically in the hotel's backyard — the upscale Mall at Short Hills with its extensive collection of high-end retailers. She was connected with the owners of the Hugo Boss store and subsequently worked out an arrangement where the hotel would host the store's annual holiday party and partner with the Hugo Boss brand through amenities and various hotel/store packages in return for the retailer outfitting the wait staff.
It was a win-win situation for both the hotel and the retailer.
The suit is a simple, basic black three-button with besom pockets and no vent. Corozzo buttons grace the sleeves and breast. The trousers feature a single pleat, and besom pockets and are lined to the knee for comfort and wearability. The four-season fabric is 100-percent crepe wool with a natural stretch that lends mobility and breathability to the fabric. Each year, with the release of a new Hugo Boss line, The Dining Room updates the suits. This year wait staff are wearing shirts in a soft clay, accented by ties with broad diagonal stripes of wine and copper.
Since switching to the suits in late 2003, the restaurant has received plenty of positive feedback from patrons, who find the attire elegant and professional, without being stuffy. The suits are contemporary yet classic and match The Dining Room's new image.
And the staff's reaction? “They feel great, look sharp and are positive about the change,” reports Turna.
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