I went out to dinner this weekend with my wife and another couple. Those who know me know that that alone is an accomplishment. I don’t do the double date thing very well–even when the other couple are dear friends.
I probably should own up to the fact that I went in to this experience with a bit of a chip on my shoulder. I had been talking to a friend of mine–a former chef of this establishment–and she had filled me in with some facts about the owners. After that conversation, I was pretty determined to never eat there again. But, I was not in control of the reservation decision, so here we are…
We arrived for our 8:00 reservation, and got the usual, “I’m sorry, we are running a bit behind, but should have your table ready soon.” “How soon,” I wanted to ask, but instead decided to just walk away and let others in our party decide on our next plan of action. Yet another big step for me. Aren’t you proud of me?
22 minutes later we are seated. Of course it was at a table right by the front door. I tried not to react when I saw them setting that particular table, but as we all know, I get ‘that look’ and I can’t help myself. After we were seated and as I attempted to gather myself, the manager stopped by and gave us a nice appetizer to all share. A very nice gesture. I did appreciate it, as did the others at my table, but it got me to thinking.
Yeah, right? We all should be worried when Tom gets to thinking. Or when he refers to himself in the third person. The free food was a nice way to make up for the late seating, but what really ended up making the difference, was the incredibly nice service. Everyone made up for things by being extra friendly. And not in a fake kind of way, but in a much more sincere way.
It was nice that they recognized the problem, and made up for it with some free food and some very friendly service. Owning up to, and taking on the responsibility of a problem, is the only proper way to move forward. Otherwise, you will probably lose your guest. And as we know in this business, you can’t afford to lose a guest. It is all about getting them to come back.
Be aware in your restaurant. Be present and do your best to turn customers in to return customers. Yes, free food is nice, but don’t forget the other element. The one that many forget is important: good, friendly service.