Tuesday, December 20, 2011

First Impressions

So I  went to a chain restaurant with co-workers for lunch.  I can say that I was a bit biased walking in the door.  I am not really a fan of big chain restaurants that seem to dumb down their menus to please the masses (Yes I know this makes me sound like an uptight New Englander...)

I also get that as a foodie living in Boston, I am blessed to be surrounded by AMAZING mom n' pop restaurants in almost every genre/ethnic background...  However, I do enjoy the occasional outing to a chain.  ( I dream of a certain Italian Restaurant Chains' hot round little rolls and lunch pizzas!) There is something comforting about knowing that where ever you might be that one dish you love will taste the same.  

This restaurant had some pros and cons going for it.  I am not in love with it but will probably give it another shot (when it is not 5 days before Xmas and at a busy mall) just because you never know what is really going on with a place after just one visit.

Instead of being petty and telling you everything I hated and calling them out (already did that on twitter, doh!) I figured I would go over some things restaurants SHOULD do in my opinion to make customers happy and welcomed!  Would love to hear your comments on what makes (or breaks) a restaurant in your book!

  • Acknowledgement! Even if you are jammed packed, please take 5 seconds to smile and say that you will be with me in a moment!  People will wait calmly if they know you are coming back instead of ignoring them....
  • Turn down your music:  Unless I am in a nightclub, I don't need to strain my voice just to talk to the person next to me. (FYI, this place was playing Rob Zombie at 12pm!!)
  • Bring H2O or take drink orders promptly.  Again, people will happily wait for their server if they have a cocktail or ice tea to sip on while chatting with their company.  
  • KISS: No, do not kiss your customers... Keep It Simple Stupid!  I don't know how many places I have gone over the past few years were the menu ranges from 5-40+ pages!!!  You cannot be giving 100% to your dishes if there are 100s of choices.  I would take a 1 page menu over a 5 page elaborate menu any day of the week!
  • Be prompt in serving your dishes.  I don't care if I am there for lunch or a leisurely 3 hour meal.  Once I place my order, I expect that my first course should be out in about 10-15 minutes.  It really begins to spoil an outing when you start checking your watch, telling your stomach to settle down and guessing if you will make your 130 meeting back at the office.  If there is something wrong with the order, COMMUNICATE to your table.   Let us know the problem, we are more likely to understand than if you just avoid the table for 30 minutes....
I know this post is not my normal happy go lucky foodie post, but they are the things that will make or break a restaurant visit for me!

What are your pet peeves?  Or the little things places do to make you running back week after week?