All Star Service: Sarah Owens of HSL

“Be guest – minded. I try to put myself in the guest’s place.”

Sarah Owens – HSL

“I started serving tables at Ruth’s Diner the day after I turned 21, and I’ve been working in restaurants ever since—17 years,” says Sarah Owens, a server at HSL. “This career found me and it continues to be rewarding and interesting. It’s a job that allows you to feel ownership. It also offers flexibility that allows for a well-rounded life—time for outdoors and other interests.”

Owens says one problem with the dining scene in SLC is that the kitchens are ahead of the dining room. “We have more sophisticated cooks than servers or diners,” she says. “People tend to stay in Salt Lake if they grow up here. I don’t think people here dine out as much as they do other places. They’re not as comfortable in different types of restaurants.”


A server has to be empathetic to see whether guests are feeling out of their element, she says. It’s basically a short-term relationship. “People dining are going back to their basic needs—eating. A server is involved with them in a fairly intimate act.”

A server can make or break a restaurant experience, especially at modern places like HSL, where people are not expected to eat the traditional three-course meal, and a lot of the dishes and ingredients are unfamiliar. “I try to put myself in their place, tell them how I handle this menu, without making them feel stupid.”


Owens loves serving, but she’s unsure about how long she can continue. “My friends and social world are here, but I love running, skiing and hiking. This job is very hard on your feet.”

Written by Mary Malouf

Photographed by Adam Finkle

Mary Brown Malouf
Mary Brown Malouf
Mary Brown Malouf is the late Executive Editor of Salt Lake magazine and Utah's expert on local food and dining. She still does not, however, know how to make a decent cup of coffee.

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