A recent bad experience at a local Seattle “gastropub” prompts this missive. As a result of a sincere and satisfactory response, the pub shall remain unnamed.
In a small, half-full, well-staffed short order house, a hamburger should not take 40 minutes from order to serving. Nor should two identical burgers on the same order arrive 10 minutes apart. Nor should they be cold on arrival. Nor, in that 40-minute span, should the server merely take the order and serve it, spending the intervening 38 minutes openly touch-flirting with a bar patron.
To his credit, the young manager (after being invited to confirm the coldness and check the POS record) did all the right things. He listened, and looked me in the eye. He did not dispute the indisputable. He agreed that the service Wahine and I received was unacceptable. He asked if he might be allowed to replace our orders on condition that he personally supervise their immediate firing. We accepted. And then he comped us our entire check.
Before the manager’s intercession, I was extremely angry, mostly because this was one of those slow-motion trainwrecks. Seated where I was, the line cooks, service counter, flirter and flirtee, and the status of other tables were in my unimpeded view. I saw what turned out to be our Refrigiburgers sitting there like marooned schoolkids who’d missed their bus. By the 40th minute, I was seething, loaded for bear.
But after the manager’s gracefulness, I was OK. In reflecting on it afterward, I concluded that many such situations can easily be defused and made right. Validating the patron, taking ownership of mistakes, sincerely apologizing and offering to make it right is such a simple skillset, yet I find it rare in even trained hospitality professionals. Sadly, it seems de rigeur that servers and managers remain defensive, even passive-agressive, and feel entitled to show (via eye-rolling, stomping off, etc.) exactly how wrong the patron is. When apologies are made, typically they come off as insincere. Whenever this happens, I complain. And having complained, I never return. In egregious cases, I spread the word.
In this case, all’s well that ends well. This should happen more often than it does.