Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Take a pass on Tapas? You decide.

  Last Sunday night, my family and I went out to dinner for my Mom's birthday. My mom chose a Tapas restaurant that we had been to several times before where we had always enjoyed good food and good service. Unfortunately, such was not the case this time. While the food was still quite tasty, the service was deplorable. Everything we ordered came to the table after a really long wait, and there was a huge gap between courses. We also had my niece with us, a 10 year old girl whose meal finally came just before dessert. We're talking an hour and a half wait folks! Some of the sharing plates that were brought to the table were dirty, even though they had been run through the dishwasher, some of them were still wet. In my opinion, this is simply unacceptable.

  Now for the good news. Kudos to the manager for realizing that something was wrong. Without being prompted, she came over to our table and offered to comp our meal because of the inconvenience. Personally, I am not one of those diners who complains about everything in order to get a free meal, for I have worked in many restaurants in both front and back of house and understand the numerous complications that can arise. Maybe a server doesn't show, maybe one of the cooks isn't quite up to speed on the menu, maybe the distributor is shorting the restaurateur because they are behind on their bills. It could be any or all of these things, but let's get back to the last supper. In an effort to minimize the damage, the manager did about the only thing she could do given her situation. She was genuine in her remorse and apologized profusely for the extensive wait we had experienced. She was also smart enough to realize that if we ever intended to come back, she had to do something to make things right. After talking to her, we found out the reason for the kitchen delay. They had had a small fire in the kitchen earlier that day and were trying to still do a dinner service despite the kitchen not being ready to handle the orders that were piling up. Bottom line is that she comped us for about $200 worth of food and it looked like she might have comped some other tables as well, since we were not the only ones who seemed annoyed. I felt bad for her, but these types of scenarios raise a more important question as to when a restaurant should be open for business, or when they should just put up a sign that says " Sorry. Closed tonight due to unforeseen circumstances". Of course, she would have to call all of her reservations for that evening and deliver the bad news, but I wonder if she  might have been better off doing just that? When you factor in the negative customer reaction, the dollars lost in comped meals, and whatever else that didn't go right, she might have come out ahead by staying closed for the night and reopening when the kitchen and staff were fully prepared to deliver the kind of dining experience their regular customers had come to expect. Luckily for her, I am the forgiving type and will probably give them another try sometime in the future, but if they have a few more nights like last night, there's a good chance they may not be around very much longer.

  So, I ask you, my fellow diners, do you think she made the right decision staying open? Or should she have just cut her losses for the night and called it a day until things were up to snuff? Thanks for reading, your feedback is genuinely appreciated.

Yours truly,