Polo, Sailboats, and Top Level Wine

Briefly think about these three worlds: professional polo, recreational sailboat racing, and the upper crust of the wine world (I’m talking Grand Cru Burgundy, first growth Bordeaux, Cult California Cabernets). What do they have in common?

They have a tiny audience.

I’m not just talking about a small audience. This is not the 1%. This is the one tenth of 1%. To even start to play in these worlds often costs huge money and demands incredible commitment.

This audience is seen as rarified and gentrified. It’s assumed that people that go to polo matches, race their sailboats on the weekend, and collect the best of the best wines are a different breed from many, with different priorities, budgets, and goals in life.

Some would go so far as to call them snobs.

But are they?

A lover of any of these subjects still goes out for a pizza and a burger. They drive a car. They have worries and anxiety. They get frustrated when things aren’t going their way. They are often only looking for fun and opportunity, just as all of us are.

Their love of rarified and gentrified things doesn’t put them out of reach of being human.

I bring all of this up because of a sense of ‘snob creep’ bubbling up in the fine dining world. It’s a term I made up, and it refers to the attitude of servers and managers in the back room when they have top level customers sitting in their sections. The server in their early 20’s speaking in rude tones about the “snob at table 2.”

Restaurant managers and operators need to be on the lookout for snob creep. It’s a dangerous energy that can quickly snowball behind the scenes in the restaurant environment. It’s dangerous for more than the obvious reasons. It keeps your people from thinking big and dreaming forward.

Dream big, move the needle forward, and someday those restaurant servers might be taking up polo and sailing on the weekends.