Service Is the Impression that Lasts

 In 4. Jenny Brooks

Authored by Jenny Brooks

I live in a really small town and there are very few restaurants to choose from where you don’t just go in wearing your pajama bottoms. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve thought about going out to eat, but then just threw the idea away because there isn’t anywhere good to eat.

But a new fine dining place opened where you actually have to make a reservation and can expect something better on the menu than a hamburger or pizza.

I will spare you the blow-by-blow details of the evening. There were a few snafus in the first part of the evening, but I’ll sum up with the crux of it all.

Just before the food should have been coming out, the waiter appeared to tell me that the kitchen was out of calamari, the key ingredient in the dish I ordered. He handed over a menu and offered me some time to review it and make another selection. He told me, “No pressure, take your time,” and then proceeded to stand next to me while I looked at the menu. He offered no suggestions of what I might like instead and offered no substitutions.

I looked it over, but couldn’t get the idea of that calamari out of my head. I saw scallops on the menu and asked if I could have the scallops in place of the calamari. Because I’d had a glass of wine (read I was brave) and was a little ticked about his attitude, I asked if I could substitute it for the same price as the calamari (scallops were $20/calamari was $16). He said of course and took off to the kitchen.

My friends and I returned to our conversation and were enjoying a great story when the waiter appeared again. He took us all off guard and mumbled that the Chef said he can’t make that substitution because then he wouldn’t have enough scallops for the other dish. Huh?

Then he handed me the menu again. I was totally dumbfounded and completely confused. I looked the menu over for the third time, again with no help from the waiter, and decided on a cheese and pasta dish. It was a far departure from what I originally selected, but I thought it was likely to be in stock.

It was a situation screaming of a lack of training and protocol. My point is to tell you that you might be doing all you can to give the best food, the best ambience and the best prices, but it’s the service that will make or break you. With systems in place, that waiter would have known exactly how to make that substitution and how to account for it. With proper training, he would have easily guided me to a selection that was sure to be a hit and in stock.

But just like so many restaurants, this wasn’t the case. If only I could bring David Scott Peters to every restaurant I visit.


Jenny Brooks is a public relations professional providing expert and strategic tactics for businesses trying to increase awareness about themselves and their products.

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