Dining at Chez Betty

I don't have many "regular" restaurants, places. I am too busy going to the restaurants I must go to to go to the ones I'd like to go to. That means I seldom get to know the people who are most crucial to a restaurant's success. The servers.

I didn't know Robin Svoboda. But I know he was crucial to Chez Betty, a restaurant much-lauded for the quality of its service. Meaning Robin. He was the main reason Chez Betty won the award for Best Service and for Hospitality.

Robin Svoboda died this weekend from lung cancer and a long illness.

The Michigan native first visited Utah in 1978, staying with friends in Heber. He loved it, moved here, and held several restaurant jobs before landing at Chez Betty, where he worked from the day it opened for more than 20 years. To many, Robin was the Chez Betty experience.

Servers are the rarest breed in the restaurant business–they have to be people who love helping other people, welcoming them, tending to them, making sure their experience is the best it can be.

Salt Lake magazine publisher Margaret Mary Shuff, was a regular at Chez Betty and remembers Robin well.

"Robin was at Chez Betty ever since I can remember–maybe since the beginning. He was the waiter you looked forward to seeing, a friend who knew first names after the first meeting, a tall lanky guy with a smile as big as the state of Michigan where he was was raised. Robin loved his wife and his girls and skiing and cycling. I know yearly skiiers visiting Park City who specifically asked for him when they made their yearly reservations. Utah has lost a wonderful member of the hospitality business; he will be missed on so many different levels by so one people.

As his obituary said, Robin is on a chairlift to Heaven."