Waiting Tables Why this 64 year old still wants to serve your meals

Tufour has served all manner of people including Heads of State and he still has no plan to quit anytime soon

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Sixty-four-year-old Richard Tufour knows how to welcome a guest into his home.

His first concern when I entered his Maamobi home was to make sure I was comfortable by adjusting the ceiling fan’s regulator, offering me water and consistently asking if I am okay.

This is not surprising for a man who has spent 42 years of his life serving people in restaurants.

“Well I can say It’s a very nice business…it is this business that has made me to take care of my children,” Tufour says with a smile which lights up his face.

play Richard Tufour

Joining the hospitality business was an easy decision for him. His passion to serve people and the satisfaction that follows anytime he does were so strong he could not imagine himself in any other profession.  As a result, he enrolled into the State Hotel Training school in 1974 to turn his passion into a profession.

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After training, the first place he was sent to was the kitchen. But as fate would have it, he was later asked by one of his supervisors to come to the restaurant to serve.

“I went there for three days and I [saw] that the place was good,” referring to the kitchen “that is why I still continue with the restaurants.”

Tufour has worked at Ambassador hotel, Meridian hotel, Akosombo Continental Hotel and a host of others in the capital.

He is now the Food and Beverage manager at Afrikiko Restaurant and Bar here in Accra. His job now is to train and supervise the waiters as well as serve customers.

Living on a waiter’s salary

Surviving and taking care of a family of seven as a waiter has never been about the salary, the sexagenarian says. His salary is nothing to write home about.

play Tufour demonstrates how to set a table

 

“Those days the salary was just a peanut. But we depend on tips. Before you close work as least you will have your daily bread. That helped me to care for my children.”

Serving Heads of States

One of his biggest tips was from a former Head of State of Ghana Edward Akufo -Addo. He says that was one of the high points in his career.

“When he went to open Weija Dam, I served him. I gave him Champagne and he asked me to take it before him. I was not afraid.

“You know if you are serving a man like that you have to take it like you are serving a small boy because if you look at the personality you may even shake and do something which is not good.

“So, I served him and he said I should taste it first so I [tasted] it, when I was about to give his own to him he said no he likes my glass so I gave the glass to him. From there he said I should go to the army I said no …I like this work.

“He gave me money, he gave a check about 10,000 cedis at that time I made good of that money. I used to start my project in my hometown.”

He has also served former president Jerry John Rawlings who he considers a friend.

“JJ was even my friend,” he says beaming with smiles “when I went to Meridian Hotel a place called zero room he used to come there for coffee.”

The late PV Obeng and Totobi Kwakye have all had the pleasure of being served by Tuffour.

To say it has all been rosy for him throughout his career will be a lie. He has had his fair share of difficult and sometimes even violent customers.

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He recalls with a lot of anger how he was hit by a man for demanding to be paid for the services he had rendered.

“When I was at Till’s No 1 Beach Hotel I remember one musician came there to lodge [at ] the hotel for about five days. So, when he was about to leave and we gave him the bill he said the food was not good so he is not going to pay.

“You stayed there for five days eating breakfast lunch and dinner and now you are telling me that you can’t pay, you lie you will pay- and the man slapped me. In this world, they say every customer is right but if customer is right you are not right to slap me if you have to pay your bill and you don’t want to pay [there is no need] to slap me so me too I slapped him and he {fell}.”

The issue was eventually resolved at the police station where the customer was made to compensate Tufour.

Despite doing this job for over four decades, he has no plans for quitting any time soon. He believes age will catch up with him quickly if he retires.

He has just one message for people who have very little or no regard for waiters, “if somebody is serving you he is your God.”

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