AccessMyLibrary provides FREE access to millions of articles from top publications available through your library.
A small sheet of paper tacked up in white the host's podium sets the mood: Very Busy Tonight - Keep the energy up! Ready by 5:45. Curtain up at 6!
The "curtain" at Norman's restaurant in Coral Gables is the front door, and in the hours before show time, the restaurant buzzes with the sounds of theater.
The stage is set with the freshest flowers, the straightest chairs, the crispest tablecloth corners. Chefs, like orchestra players, warm up in the kitchens, preparing dessert garnishes and special sauces. Servers, the actors in this fantasy world of delicious dining, are in the wings, the young ones nervously mouthing their menu item descriptions and all waiting for their cues.
"I like the ceremony of it, the game of creating a fantasy world. There needs to be a theatrical aspect because you never want the guest to be worried or concerned about anything," award-winning chef Norman Van Aken says, explaining why he's running a restaurant and not just a kitchen.
The staff of Norman's goes to great lengths to make sure guests are neither worried nor concerned. Every employee, from valet to hostess to server and back waiter, is trained in how to serve guests, how to …