After 15 years of working in the hospitality industry as a bartender and waitress, it’s no surprise that Taneisha Allen’s wealth of knowledge has guests coming back to the Blue Mahoe Restaurant at Negril’s Ocean Cliff Hotel.
However, she says with a grin, her journey started as a bartender “many moons ago”.
“I came into the industry as a bartender, not a waitress. I liked the bar more, but over the years I’ve been in both areas, so sometimes I have to be in the bar and other times I am on the floor,” Allen says.
While her passion for bartending changed as time went by, her love for hospitality grew.
“The bar was more fun at times, because you get to interact with guests on a more personal level. A lot of guests come to the bar to ask for advice, [while] on the floor, you just bring their food, so you don’t have a lot of talking time,” she tells the Jamaica Observer’s LetsTravelCaribbean.com
“If I had a choice between them, I would choose the floor, because over the years I have grown really fond of being a waitress. I don’t want to go back to the bar. I love serving my customers and I love making them happy,” she says with a smile from ear to ear.
Allen adds, “I love to see the looks on their faces when they order a meal and I bring it to them. Sometimes they will ask me to recommend things and I do. Whenever they’re finished, they’ll be like, ‘Nice recommendation; I loved it and I am coming back.’ ”
Her favourite meal to recommend is Blue Mahoe’s Jamaican platter and their delicious seafood meals are not far behind.
“I’m a seafood lover, so I usually recommend the lobster or a whole snapper. I also love suggesting the Jamaican platter, which is great because it has three different meats. I would recommend everything on the menu but those are my favourites,” she says.
For drink recommendations, it gets a bit more challenging, as she has to know a bit more about the customer.
“If they like fruity drinks I would recommend a fruit punch or a strawberry daiquiri. For the hard liquor lovers I would do a planter’s punch or maybe something stronger. It really depends on the mood the guests are in,” she explains.
Her favourite memory with a guest was at a wedding years ago while she was working at the Grand Palladium.
“The bride came over to me and asked me my name. After I responded she said, ‘You’re the Taneisha I’ve been hearing about.’ I asked her what she heard, and she said a group of friends visited last year and they recommended that she come to this hotel and ask for me,” says Allen.
“At that moment I realised that I must be doing something good if guests are coming back to ask for me,” the proud waitress adds.
Allen’s dream is to garner all the knowledge she possibly can before trying her hand at being an entrepreneur.
“I want to stay in the business for another three years because I love it. But I really want to open an establishment in this same hospitality field. I am looking at opening a restaurant and bar in Negril,” she says.