If you find yourself at South on Main just about any night of the week, you’re sure to see manager/service captain and night manager, Chris Goff. He loves his job, and his customers love him.
“It’s easy at its heart to be a server. Anyone can bring food or drinks to a table. But you can do it joylessly, or you can try to bring more,” Chris said.
Chris is a Beebe, Arkansas native and his lighthearted vibe and friendly attitude really help define the atmosphere of South on Main. He can tell when he walks up to a table if they are looking to have a good time or just a quiet, quick dinner. His spirit for the craft is palpable.
“I think what makes Chris special is his ability to sense a guest’s need before they might be aware they need something. He embodies and teaches intuitive hospitality. Often restaurants try to raise employees to their standard of hospitality – Chris has the ability to raise our standards even higher. We are lucky to have him as a part of our restaurant family,” Matthew Bell, co-owner and Executive Chef at South on Main said.
“One word to describe Chris – passionate. I love watching him share his passion for food and hospitality with our guests,” Amy Bell, co-owner of South on Main said.
His serving career began when he was just 19 and working at Colton’s Steak House in Cabot. He then moved on to Dixie Café.
He soon realized that he wasn’t going to be able to make the money he needed unless the restaurant he worked at sold alcohol, and at the time he was living in dry White County. So, he started commuting to Bene Vita, now Red Door, in Little Rock. There, he made long-lasting relationships and got more familiarized with business in the “big city.”
Next, he got a gig at the Capital Hotel Bar and Grill where he met Matt and Amy Bell, now owners of South on Main. After working at Natchez, which closed in July of 2015, he wanted to join forces with the Bells again.
Server positions were full at the newly-opened South on Main, so he started busing tables and worked his way up.
Now he is the head server, night manager and liaison for the bands that play at the restaurant. He helps hire, trains new servers, makes schedules and works private events. You can usually find him there from 4 p.m. until closing time.
When he’s not working, you can find him spending time with his girlfriend and traveling. He is also an admitted movie buff, so they try to watch a new movie every night. You might even find him singing karaoke at a nearby bar on Sundays.
Chris’s inspiration is Joann “Jojo” Sims from Cache. Whenever he first got to the Capital Bar, she was the head server. He knew he wanted to learn how to work a room like she did and make everyone comfortable.
“When I’m going out to eat and I’m spending my hard-earned money, I expect to get good service, I want someone to be knowledgeable about the menu, I want someone to be courteous and receptive to courtesy. As a diner, we have preconceived notions about dining and service. So, you kind of have to meet that. Whenever you’re waiting on people, some want to have a great time, and sometimes it’s a just a normal Wednesday night dinner. Everybody’s different.”
Why does Chris keep doing what he’s doing? He loves the owners, he respects the food, the building, the music and the outlook for the community matches his. Other restaurants have tried to recruit him, but at South on Main, he can really be himself. “It’s important for me to be proud of what I do.”
For Chris, it’s not about the money, it’s about ensuring that guests have a good experience and making them come back for more.