To celebrate the UK’s waiting staff, the unsung heroes of the restaurant industry, typically eclipsed by the reputation of unseen chefs in the kitchen, yet pivotal to a great dining experience, guest experience platform Superb has conducted an analysis of online user-generated reviews and social media posts, as well as national newspaper reviews, in order to definitively reveal, for the first time, Britain’s best-loved waiter.
Neil Heshmat, 71, staff member for 45 years at French restaurant, Oslo Court, located near to London’s Regent’s Park, is the nation’s most popular waiter, having been favourably referenced in at least thirteen national newspaper reviews since 2006, featured prominently within all major user-generated content review websites (of the 657 ‘excellent’ TripAdvisor reviews of Oslo Court, Neil is mentioned in 92), and appears in multiple pieces of social media content.
Neil is also believed to be the UK front of house staff member to have worked for the longest in the same restaurant, starting at Oslo Court in 1976 when Harold Wilson was Prime Minister and the UK experienced the hottest heat wave of the 20th century.
Born in Egypt, Neil Heshmat came to England in 1975 to pursue his passion for hospitality. Despite a limited grasp of the English language, he quickly settled in the restaurant industry, whereupon, in 1976, he took the role as Dessert Waiter at Oslo Court. Having worked there for 45 years, Neil considers the owners as family, and Oslo Court as his home. Over the years Neil has served celebrities ranging from Matt Lucas to Lord Spencer, David Cameron to Barbara Windsor, acquiring cult status for his exuberant dessert trolley service and impeccable manners. In some cases, he is now dishing out desserts to the third generation of customers (having served their parents and grandparents).
Neil attributes his success and the longevity of his career to his fantastic people skills and the desire to make others happy. Neil refuses to offer preferential treatment to his celebrity customers, something he believes has helped him stay grounded and remain a firm favourite amongst all diners. Adored by the local community, whilst receiving treatment for a back injury he sustained during a robbery, Oslo Court regulars filled his hospital room with flowers. Neil says he has no plans to retire; as Britain’s most popular restaurant waiter, he is showing no signs of halting the dessert trolley any time soon.
Neil Heshmat comments: “I have spent my life working at Oslo Court and loved every minute. I consider every customer that I have served to have been my favourite, and each one gives me reason to come back the next day and enjoy myself again. The pandemic hit our industry hard, and it wasn’t fun to be sitting around at home; I wanted to be back out amongst my customers, helping them have the best experience possible. I am so grateful to be recognised as Britain’s most popular waiter. After nearly fifty years of work it is a privilege to gain recognition for doing something I adore – here’s hoping for many more years!”
Zaedo Musa said: “Neil is an inspiration to the restaurant industry and to all those who appreciate that there is more to an incredible dining experience than just the food. As the world considers returning to restaurants, people like Neil – who love their job and their customers in equal measure – are going to be crucial in enticing people away from deliveries at home, and ensuring that a meal out is a memorable experience.”