Thursday, January 11, 2007

I'll never (part seventeen)

Of course, the number of the parts to this particular category number more than seventeen easily, but as the Farmer said, “that’ll do”.

17. I’ll never sit down in Cal’s again.

Oh I know, this is gonna be one of the harder nevers to keep, because we are, after all, dealing with food, and personally, I kind of like food. Rumor has it that you need it to survive or something, I really wasn’t paying that close attention in biology class. There was this really cute little red-headed girl that sat in the row next to me who was far more interesting than hearing discussions of mitochondrial RNA or the such like. But I digress.

My parents owned a restaurant during my formative years. We did ok, nothing spectacular, but there was always food around, good customers, close friends, and a girl (now woman) who I may be working for when we move back to the area, which honestly is not exactly irony, but something closely resembling it. I took her to my Junior Prom. The guys at school were jealous. Something that wasn’t directed toward me very often in High School, so I drank it in. There’s nothing like a little envy directed your way to really bolster that self-esteem. So anyway, I think I know a few things about being a restauranteur.

There are two keys to running a successful restaurant. Without these two things, a restaurant will have a great deal of trouble and never really get much more than breaking even. First, you have to give the customer just a little more than they expect. There’s no need to go overboard with anything. You don’t give a customer a filet mignon for $3.98 a plate. That’s just insane. You do give him just a slightly larger steak than expected. You give them a few more fries than a normal serving. Make the glasses just a little larger than what someone has at home. It doesn’t have to be grossly larger to the point of being noticeable; just a bit. The second key is quick service. No one likes to wait, but we all have different ideas of what waiting too long is. This is where the owner or manager needs to step in with the waiting staff to show them what a customer who is ready looks like. This is a developed skill, there are very few people who are born with the ability to look at someone and know what they are thinking. Generally it is a general disinterest in the menu, noticing that the eyes aren’t focused at the table anymore, things along those lines.

Put simply, I waited too long this evening. You may say that never going back is being a bit trifling about the whole situation, but this isn’t the first time its been this way. I’ve always been pleased with the serving sizes there, but there is a continual lack of attentiveness on the part of the wait staff which grates at my nerves. We’re still polite and offer a nice tip at the end of the night, but it isn’t nearly what it could be with excellent service.

Luckily we have a restaurant here in town that for a while now has been offering excellent service and ideal portion size (I’ve noticed!) that draws people back. Even those of us who kind of forget those points sometimes.

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