This weekend I went with my family and some friends to a trip to Long Beach, WA. On the way, we stopped in a Mexican restaurant to get some lunch.
The place was empty (only the 8 of us and another couple) and we were promptly seated in a long table.
Soon enough, our young (in his late teens or early twenties) waiter came with the nachos, no salsa. When after a while we asked him for some salsa, he smiled and brought it a few minutes later. No big deal.
Then we order our foods. Two members of our party didn’t get their tortillas for their fajitas. We waited and waited but the waiter never came back to check on us. Another woman in our group ordered a Coke that never made it to the table. We needed to get up and look for the waiter who was talking to another guy by the kitchen. Finally a busboy brought us the tortillas when they were almost at the end of the meal.
In the middle of the meal, a terrible noise startled us all. Somebody dropped a whole tray filled with glasses. It made a terrible ruckus and got all the attention from our waiter (although he wasn’t the responsible for the accident). We never saw him again until we had to go again and ask for the check.
They charged us for the coke that we never got but we were ready to leave and didn’t want to make a fuss about $1.65 so we paid and left.
Now, we were in our way to Long Beach and it is doubtful that we will stop in that place for a meal any time soon, but even if I was leaving in that town, I don’t think that I would frequent that place. The food, by the way, was pretty good.
I always said that food in a restaurant is important but service is almost as important. If one of the two fails, the dining experience also fails.
I see often restaurateurs hiring very expensive chefs that get lavishly paid, and compensate their expenses by hiring inexperience (and cheap) servers, often teenagers, who are neither interested in the business nor knowledgeable of what a good dining experience entails.
Don’t make this mistake. Good food with poor service is as bad as bad food with great service. Both need to be in balance if you want your place to succeed. Select the best servers that you can get, train them continuously (teach them the foods, the wines, what makes your place unique and special) and don’t try to squeeze as much money as you can from them. Not only they won’t be motivated to offer an excellent service but they may even resent you and pass that resentment along to your clients.
Remember, the weakest link in your business will setup the standard.
Thanks for reading and happy sailing,