Crappy service, great food...what to do?
Yesterday I witnessed something quite special. My lovely wife, who is usually not one for complaining, decided that the service we had received at a local restaurant (or hadn't in this case) was not on. She put her foot down, followed my advice, and I witnessed it with a glowing smile.
Here's the story.
After being seated by the host, we waited 15 minutes for a server to appear at our table. We did the usual 'please, can't somebody take our order' stares into space. We made eye contact with other servers. We did everything right. Alas, we were ignored.
My wife walked all the way back to the front of the restaurant and asked our hostess for some help. She ended up being the one to take our orders, and the restaurant wasn't even that busy. Not a glowing start to the meal, which I thought was now going to suck. We made our drink and food orders, and I ordered a Seven Taster special to drink (Seven 5oz samples of the beers they serve) and they arrived very quickly. I was knocked out. They tasted great, they looked great, the barman clearly had his act together.
And then the wait began for the food. Another 20 minutes (which seemed longer, we had a 6 month old and a precocious toddler at the table), but when it did arrive it was outrageously good. I mean heavenly. Our little girl Olivia was making MMMMMM sounds through the whole meal. We sat there full and satisfied, but the service had really let us down. We were going to order dessert, but we had not been checked on once by a server. We felt invisible. No-one was even making an appearance to give us the check.
My wife had had enough. She went to our hostess and asked for the manager. I was shocked, but happy to see she was realizing that as customers we have a right to good service. When the manager arrived, she followed my advice to the letter. She was polite, explained that we loved the food but were let down by the poor service. The manager listened carefully, and showed genuine concern.
He came back to the table with 50% taken off our bill, and a $20 gift voucher for our next visit. He apologized for the poor service, assured us it would never happen again and wanted us to come back and see for ourselves soon. He was very nice. And we will. The food was great, and the manager turned something that could have been bad word of mouth into a great story. The restauramt in question is BJs Restaurant & Brewhouse, in Aurora, by the way.
So, the moral is this. Everyone is entitled to good service. If you don't believe you received it, be honest. But in turn, be completely honest about the whole event. If the food was great, say so. If the food sucked but the waiter was a star, say that too. But always remain calm, collected and polite. More often than not, you'll get a much more favorable outcome if you show the restaurant you're a good customer worth keeping, rather than a complainer out for a free lunch.
And to my wife Nikki, you're a star. Even Basil Fawlty would be putty in your hands.