It is never really about the mistake. It is always about how you handle it. Mistakes are going to happen. Restaurants, (if you are lucky) are busy places. So when those mistakes happen, and they will, deal with them properly. I wrote about another inappropriately handled experience a while back: https://tabletalkpdx.com/2013/08/02/
Let me tell you an improper way to handle it
My wife and I meet another couple for a drink at a ‘fancy’, upscale place with a view, here in town. I am not terribly in to the whole double date thing, but once in a while my wife can convince me to join her on these types of outings. Besides this a great couple, friends of ours visiting from New York, and this is a chance to show off Portland and its fine bars and restaurants.
The wife of this couple is expecting a child. Just found out a few weeks ago, and obviously is very excited. The three of us order our cocktails, and she, not drinking because of the baby, orders hot tea. Now I know that this bar is not the place that serves a lot of tea, but…
Our drinks come–all except the tea–and the bartender mentions that the tea will be just a moment. No big deal, right? When I go out with my wife and the server gives me my drink first and tells us that her drink is on the way, I usually wait to take a sip of mine out of courtesy to my wife. I don’t bother to get in to the whole thing of it is proper to serve the lady first–what’s the point?
It’s an arcane notion
I know serving the lady first is old school, so I never make a big deal about it. I usually just sit there, dying of thirst, patiently waiting for my wife’s drink to arrive. So, here I am waiting, staring at my drink for a while, wanting to wait until everyone has their beverage, and ten minutes goes by. My wife and our male friend have uncomfortably started to sip on their cocktails, both aware of the situation, but not wanting to turn it in to anything.
The bartender happens by, and I inquire about the tea. “Oh yeah, I meant to tell you…” I always love that one. I meant to tell you…? Well, if you meant to tell me, why didn’t you just tell me? “We are out of tea pots and a busser went down to the eighth floor to get one.” “Should be here soon.” By now I can sense that it is making her feel a tad awkward. “I’m sorry, I should have known better,” she says to the bartender. I tell her it is not the customer’s responsibility to know what is proper to order and what is not.
No. He should know better
Ten more minutes go by. Our bartender, apparently now on a break, is no where to be seen. Another bartender walks by and I get his attention. “Oh yeah, are you the one with the tea?” Are you kidding me? Is there any communication going on back there in this hip bar that doesn’t have to care about customers, especially those who order tea, because they are all too cool? She decides to skip the tea and we get our check and head out to our next destination.
What’s our lesson today?
As an added side note, when my wife told be we were meeting at this particular place, I let out an audible ugh. However, I decided for the sake of this couple I would put my personal feelings aside and just go with the flow. That is until they proved me right. The funny thing is that my wife ended up being the one who was the most pissed off about the whole thing, even though it was her idea to go there.
Take care of your customers! If there is a problem: Face it head on. How about, “Oh my gosh, I am so sorry that happened.” “Clearly we are having a tea problem.” “Is there something else I could bring you?” Seriously. That would go a long way in justifying the $12 drinks–a little service associated with it. Or you can handle it like so many too-cool-for-school bars and restaurants do. Ignore the problem altogether and maybe it will go away, and no one will ever order tea in your bar again.