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Bad Service on Restaurants or Bars

31 July 2015

Well, now that the preliminaries are out of the way, let’s get to the main event. This blog will pull double duty, one in the food category, and one right where it is, in the TTPMO column.

As you may know or not, I do have some experience when it comes to food and restaurants. Before all this Yachting business, we had owned and or operated quite a few restaurants, so I do have a background on which to base this commentary. When it comes to dining out, I only have one rule that I go by and its not that complicated. It’s the same philosophy that we had when we owned and operated our places. And here it is. I want to walk out feeling that for the amount of money I spent, I got my money’s worth. Pretty simple, right?  If I’m having a burger, fries and a beer for $20, all I really expect is for it to be cooked to the right temp, served hot and the beer served cold in a reasonable period of time. That will usually get the server a 20% tip or more, (I usually don’t leave less than a fin), with no problem.

But when you order it mid rare, and it comes out like a hockey puck straight from the Stanley Cup playoffs, the fries are cold, the beer warm, and its been ½ hour since the order was placed and I haven’t seen hide nor hair of my server, I’ve got issues. What ever happened to getting what you ordered, how you ordered it, in a reasonable period of time? It’s a burger, not Chateaubriand for two here. It doesn’t take a CIA (that’s Culinary Institute of America) grad to cook a burger to temp, nor a five star establishment to get it to you still warm. I’d settle for warm, doesn’t even have to be hot. Ok, maybe I am embellishing a bit, but, that being said, we have all eaten in places like this on more than one occasion, same result, so its not an isolated instance, and they are packed, steady stream of clients, waiting for tables more than willing to settle for what I call, at best, the height of mediocrity. When did we start settling for less and paying for more?

Now lets move on to the destination locations, the 4 & 5 star places that are at the top of the culinary food chain. I’ll take one specific area of where I live. Lets talk about Las Olas Blvd in Ft. Lauderdale. It is the Rodeo Dr., the Worth Ave of Ft. Lauderdale. I have eaten there at numerous restaurants on several occasions and almost always with the same predictable out come. Mediocrity at its finest. Not always, but more often than not.  But on almost any day or night, you can walk down Las Olas Blvd, and there will be a line out the door, people with pagers in their pockets waiting for up to an hour or more to get in. And dinner for two will usually run you a fair amount on Las Olas Blvd, not cheap, but why don’t places give you your money’s worth, or am I just too spoiled.  If I am paying $100-$175 for dinner for two, I have a certain expectation that, 1. I’m going to get what I ordered, 2. I’m going to get it how I ordered it, and 3. With in a reasonable time frame. You know I could probably live with 2 out of 3 here, that gets you into the big leagues, but it is almost never the case.  I want my socks knocked off, toes curling up, whatever! And again, there I am, waiting in line, with my pager patiently to not get my money’s worth.

Let me give you one example. We were at a local establishment the other evening with a friend. We sat in the bar area and ordered our beverages, along with some appetizers. Now, our table is as I said in the bar area, so when our drinks were ordered, along with our apps, you could see when they were ready. But this didn’t deter our waiter from letting them sit there for 15 minutes, and no they were not that busy. Ok we got our drinks, and our apps. Our server then pulled a disappearing act. I finally had to go to the bar and order refills for our table. Almost on cue he appears with check in hand that we did not even request, he just assumed that he should get our bill to us and we should vacate the premises. Small wonder he made any money at all with that attitude. But my point is that waiters, management have forgotten what proper service is and that we show our approval with money, in the form of tips, return visits and recommendations to our friends, or not, as in this case. As you see, from my comments, I too have been willing to settle, to compromise my standards, because I simply gave up, wasn’t worth the battle. Servers, mgmt. don’t seem to care that much, because there are a steady stream of people waiting behind you in the same cattle car fashion, to occupy that very seat that you are unhappy with.

But when I find that place, and there are a few of them, I cherish it, support it, and tell them frequently about how much I enjoy going there. I tell my friends. The places I’m talking about are usually “institutions”, and have been established for years, and been very successful. You see the same faces on their staff there, why, because they have cultivated an atmosphere of happy, satisfied clients. The staff is the same, happy and satisfied, because they make good of money, and their efforts are appreciated and they care. They spend their time taking care of their customers, they’re not overwhelmed with complaints, they’re not taking the steak back for the 2nd time because the kitchen didn’t or couldn’t get it right. The mgmt. has seen to it that the front of the house and the back of the house are all on the same page, taking proper care of good clientele, in a proper fashion and for doing that, they get compensated well.  And I for one find that refreshing in our time of “mediocrity is good enough”. I am all done settling. Who knows, maybe I’ll take another run at it and get back in the game someday and I promise you, the experience won’t be mediocre.