What would you do?

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What would you do?

Postby Karen/NoCA » Sat Sep 09, 2006 6:04 pm

Yesterday, my husband and I drove to a college town 80 minutes away to buy at Trader Joe's and have lunch at a beautifully restored hotel and restaurant. They did a first class restoration, lovely carved wood, an open stainless steel kitchen so you can watch the chef work, etc.

We both ordered a type of hot sandwich. Gene's was a breast of chicken with roasted red bell peppers; mine a meatball with marinara sauce. His chicken was burned, and very dry. My meatballs (menu said, "hand rolled fresh, every day") were very dry, hard to swallow dry, burned on one side, but with a good marinara sauce. Salad was on the same plate as our sandwiches, over dressed (soggy) with the dressing running under the sandwich making for soggy vinaigrette flavored bread. Service was fast and attentive, and the check arrived soon after we finished. There were only two other tables filled.
I did not want to complain to the food server, but came home and wondered about writing a letter to the management expressing my disappointment. What would you do?

I ate lunch there one month ago, my veggie pizza was wonderful and friend's Asian Salad was very good.
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Re: What would you do?

Postby Ian Sutton » Sat Sep 09, 2006 6:30 pm

IMO The best time to say something would be at the time and it's difficult to explain without the plate of food to demonstrate. As it's still quite recent, this may help and it's feasible they'll send a credit note and/or have a quiet word with the chef.

However I've eaten (or not if it's too bad) some poor meals and not said a word. All I can then do, is either give them another chance or vote with my feet. I recall two separate meals in Italy that they so patently didn't care about the food, that I can't believe they would have been interested in a discussion (two prime examples of avoiding crappy tourist places!).

I guess these are the options open to you, though if you do go back and are disappointed you can mention it to them in the clear knowledge that they either demonstrate a willingness to listen, understand and/or correct (in which case they keep your custom) or they're not bothered and you can scrub them off your list.

I'd be very interested to hear from those who've spent time on the other side of the hatch who post here.

Not easy - I hate complaining :oops:


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Re: What would you do?

Postby Bob Ross » Sun Sep 10, 2006 1:49 am

Karen, I think your post is perfect. I would send it as is either in person or by mail, after a telephone call to the manager/owner.

Customer feedback is priceless to an owner of a restaurant. You are a customer who had a good experience and a bad experience, and your critique is based on facts and very compelling.

I would share with the owner/manager, not for your sake, but for their sake. You speak for many customers -- many people are like Ian and very reluctant to complain. They vote with their feet.

One reason that so many restaurants fail in the first two years is that they don't seek out critiques and modify their behaviour based on what they find.

Regards, Bob
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Re: What would you do?

Postby Mike Filigenzi » Sun Sep 10, 2006 2:36 am

Karen -

I guess it would depend on whether I really felt like I wanted the restaurant to succeed. For instance, if it were the only place with a chance of having decent food in an area I lived near or travelled to frequently, I'd have a vested interest in them serving good food and being successful. If that were the case, I'd do as Bob suggested and phone them and then send the post. It might or might not mean anything to them, but just maybe it would be something they'd listen to.

Otherwise, I'd probably drop in one more time (given that you've had good food there before) to give them one last chance. And if that didn't go any better, I just wouldn't return.


"An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made, in a very narrow field" - Niels Bohr
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Re: What would you do?

Postby Karen/NoCA » Sun Sep 10, 2006 9:03 pm

Thanks for the good feedback, you gave me some tips I had not thought about. Yes, I want this restaurant to succeed. It has too much work, and money into it. I watched the chef cooking and I think he was bored out of his mind. He sort of threw things around. never looked around out into the seating area, always kept his head and eyes down. There was no reason for the chicken and my meatballs to be black on one side and so dry. He was cooking for less that 8 people while we were there, and he had two assistants.
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