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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Bad Service is the Norm

A few complaints about the local restaurant scene
Lately I have been going out and trying some new restaurants in town. It doesn't really matter which ones, because the same problems exist everywhere. Here is a list of issues which really ruin the experience and could be fixed in simple ways (like staff training).
  1. I asked the waitress what the soup of the day was and she just rolled her eyes and said, "I guess I could go ask the kitchen."
  2. I asked the waiter "Is there any ginger in this dish?" (because I am allergic) and he said he didn't think so, but he was wrong and I got a migraine.
  3. We ordered 2 appetizers and 3 main dishes and they all come out at the same time. When I expressed that this is not the way we wanted to be served, the waitress took the food back to the kitchen where it sat, perhaps under a heat lamp, until she brought it back out later, looking old and tired and with wilted garnish.
  4. I ordered a salad off the hand-written chalk board menu of daily specials. It said "Arugula and pear salad" but when it came out it's made with baby spinach. When I asked the waitress "where is the arugula?" she said they ran out of arugula — what, no eraser?
  5. We asked our server for a recommendation between 2 beef entrees and she made a face and says she does not eat meat.
  6. We made a reservation and still had to stand at the bar for 30 minutes.
  7. When served bread, my mother asks for butter every time, she usually has to ask 3 times.
  8. When we asked our server to split the bill 1/3 and 2/3's the waiter looks at us like we asked him to do advanced trigonometry.
So, are there solutions to these problems? Yes of course! Wait staff needs to be trained to be courteous, attentive and they need to know what they are serving. They should taste all the specials, be made aware of special ingredients or seasonal changes which will help inform the customers. This does not take that long and it will greatly improve their tips. It will also make more people want to go out.

Well-prepared food is great, but bad service kills it. Last week I went to Plaza cafe Southside to pick up a slice of their delicious Greek walnut cake for a friend's birthday. The waiter cut a slice and put it in a to-go container. Right before I was about to pay the owner came out and said "I do not want to sell you that cake, it's not fresh and you will be disappointed. They know me there and know I have high standards, so why was it in the showcase to begin with? Running a restaurant is complex, I understand that, but don't let your standards slip.

What's your worst restaurant experience?

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