Assistant restaurant manager Jayachandran Nair was having a bad day at work. One of his colleagues at Swensen's had dropped a dish which stained a customer's shoes and left her with a minor cut.
"She didn't want to accept an apology," said Mr Jayachandran, 39, who lives in Johor Baru, recounting the incident at Tampines Mall which occurred three years ago.
But he was able to turn the situation around, sending someone to buy her a pair of slippers, while he washed and dried her shoes.
"She was stunned, because she thought managers would be too 'high class' to do that," he said. Not only did she leave satisfied, but she has also been back several times.
Mr Jayachandran was one of 258 Star award winners at the annual Excellent Service Award for food and beverage staff, and was among five finalists for the top SuperStar award.
That honour went to Manhattan Fish Market restaurant manager Cherry Sampang, who received it from Senior Minister of State for Health and the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor.
A total of 2,200 people from 64 companies picked up awards at the event held at the National Trades Union Congress Auditorium.
Ms Sampang, 33, a Filipina who has worked in Singapore for five years, regularly attends skills-upgrading courses.
She said the award would help her encourage and motivate her colleagues to improve service standards.
In a speech, Dr Khor said service staff needed to upgrade and acquire new skills to keep up with changing needs. "In today's manpower-lean economy, businesses need to constantly adjust and adapt their service model, and find ways to deliver quality and better service, perhaps ironically even with self-service."
The Restaurant Association of Singapore organised the awards and its president, Mr Andrew Tjioe, said it was important to appreciate and honour staff "so that we can continue to inspire even more people in the industry".
Another award winner was Breeks waitress Dok Pei Chin, a 32-year-old Malaysian who has a hearing disability. Customers often praise her winning smile.
"I like to see customers giving me the heart-shaped hand sign to say they love me," said Ms Dok, through sign language interpreted by her assistant restaurant manager Shirley Quah, 23.