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Job Description:

Host - Merchant - Madison, WI

Merchant, located at 121 S. Pinckney St. in Madison, WI, is seeking an elite crew of intermediate and veteran hosts to join our team.

Rule No. One Hospitality Group opened Merchant in late 2010 as a café, a shop, and a late night craft cocktail bar specializing in no-nonsense, modestly priced, seasonal fare that reflects the ingredients and burgeoning culture of Madison, Wisconsin.  Here we celebrate our neighborhood, the First Settlement District, steeped in history, quality, authenticity, style, and entertainment.  The idea has flourished as Merchant has become a Madison institution and a stage for showcasing some of the best bartending and culinary talent in the city with a distinctive menu steeped in the classic American repertoire.  Now, in 2022, we are rebuilding and reimagining Merchant for the new decade with a state-of-the-art renovation featuring aviation-style windows, new finishes and wraparound seating. This will be an opportunity to rebuild not only with new decor and menu, but a culture that celebrates our hospitality group's mission to create spaces for treating each other and ourselves well.  You will be working with a chef team led by some of Madison's top talent, including Chef Matt Schieble who has spent time in multiple Michelin-starred kitchens and General Manager Maggie Roovers, a 2019 James Beard Award semi-finalist.

The host is the first impression of the restaurant.  The host will warmly welcome our guests and manage the timely and efficient seating at the venue. This role is primary in taking and managing reservations as well as quoting wait times and managing the waitlist.  The position's role role is divided between customer service and sales, floor operations and reservation support, and menu and product knowledge:


Customer Service / Sales

  • Always be oriented to the guest, making any possible accommodations to ensure their experience is started off on the best note

  • Offer polite, professional and courteous customer service

  • Promptly address customer service issues and refer customers to onsite management when necessary

  • Understand the basic information of Merchant’s establishment

  • Phone number, address, nearby parking, neighboring restaurants, etc.


Floor Operations & Utilizing OpenTable

  • Proficient understanding on how to operate OpenTable software

    • Complete understanding of Merchant’s reservation and walk-in policies

    • How to seat a walk-in versus reservation

    • How to properly quote wait-times

    • How to properly create a reservation

    • How to move around reservations to accommodate guest requests

    • Understand when not to take a reservation and to space out inquiries to allow successful service

      • Proficient knowledge of table numbers, the seating chart, reservation policy

      • How to properly communicate our different seating areas throughout the restaurant

  • Indoors versus outdoors

  • Dining vs bar seating

  • Knowing when to put a guest on hold and retrieve onsite management for assistance

  • Knowledge of restaurant POS software

  • Facilitate to-go orders accordingly through phone orders, 3rd party platforms, etc.

  • Prepare room for dining by setting tables

  • Perform basic cleaning tasks as needed or directed by supervisor

  • Always guiding joining guests to their tables

  • Always letting the server know when they’re sat


Menu and Product Knowledge

  • Be knowledgeable about every menu item served: what it tastes of; ingredients, and be able to translate that into ‘selling points’ for each menu item


The role will report to Shift Leads, the Assistant General Manager and the General Manager of Merchant.


  • Competitive wages

  • A flexible and predictable schedule that is posted two weeks in advance

  • 50% dining discount for you and your friends and family

  • A free and healthy GF Vegetarian or Regular staff meal

  • 50% off all food and beverage, 15% off retail items

  • Access to Merchant's online classroom with training materials, recipes, and checklists.  After full orientation, we offer weekly paid training opportunities to taste wine, spirits and food with industry experts

  • Our mission is centered around treating each other and ourselves well through our love of food, drink, and community.

  • Sustainability must be possible and attainable in our industry!

  • All employees are offered health, dental and vision insurance

  • Paid time off

  • 401k contribution

  • The chance to work in a brand new clean facility with state of the art new equipment

  • The chance to contribute to one of the most dynamic restaurant groups in the region

Our ideal host has the following attributes:

  • Has 1+ years of restaurant experience. Front desk experience is a plus.

  • Experience with reservation systems such as OpenTable preferred

  • The ideal host has excellent personal qualities, is polite, confident, a great sense of humor and above all, enjoys dealing with people.

  • The host should be warm and genuine using verbiage and vocabulary that is guest-focused and positive

  • The host controls the entire flow of the restaurant. Organization is key while always being calm and collected.

  • Able to thrive in a team environment as a reliable and trustworthy player on the floor.

  • The host, along with all staff members, is expected to be clean, neat and tidy in their personal appearance and also in their working habits; they shall also maintain the highest standards of hygiene in their workplace.

  • The host, along with all staff members, is expected to embody the organizational mission and caring, inclusive, and authentic values in terms of who we are and what we believe.

Our Values:

  • Inclusivity.  We will establish a culturally diverse and  inclusive environment, one that specifically supports minorities, all genders, and those historically underrepresented in our industry.

  • Humility. We are modest about capabilities, admit mistakes, and create the space for others to contribute.

  • Effective Collaboration. We are a team centered around positivity, that stands for one message which involves empowering others, empathizing with each other, and uplifting others as a collective.

  • Respect and Justice / Health and Well-Being. All team members need to be treated respectfully and fairly.  This pertains to equity in pay, and specific attention to physical/mental health, well-being and safety.

  • Positivity and Love of Food and Community. Cooking and serving others is a powerful act of caring and love for one another.  Let us work together to bring our community together through the power of food and drink

Pay Rate: $16-20/hr, inclusive of tip-out

Merchant is an equal opportunity employer, with a mission to support women, Black, LGBTQ+ applicants.  As an organization, we support a minimum wage of $16/hour.

RNO is a mission-driven lifestyle company dedicated to creating spaces for celebrating and treating each other and ourselves well.  We seek to provide warm, fun and an endlessly interesting mix of inspired programming that challenges, invigorates and delights our guests by celebrating our craft, who we are, what we do and what we believe. As a community-driven hospitality management organization, we are active in social causes supporting women, Black, LGBTQ+, and Indigenous communities everywhere. Cook It Forward is a non-profit advocacy arm of Rule No One Hospitality, Inc. with a mission to address ongoing inequities in our food systems. We are all working collectively on social entrepreneurship, social equity, and social justice-- one meal at a time.

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Application For:

Host - Merchant - Madison, WI

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