Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Weekend UpDate

The weather that caused a media frenzy over the weekend also put a wet blanket on Saturday's DownRigging festivities, which in turn put a bit of a damper on our own business.  Still, while it was not the crazy busy two days it has been in years past, it was pretty hectic on Friday and Saturday nights, with Saturday lunch being the main weak spot.  We had several large parties booked - especially for Saturday night - and amazingly enough, they went fairly smoothly.  Five bookings on Saturday: a six at 5PM, 6 at 6PM, 7 at 7PM, 12 at 7:30 and another 7 at 8PM - not one of them had to wait for their table.  Trust me, that was a miracle, especially when I realized at 6PM that I had used one of the two tables I needed at 7 for a regular party of three...

Not everything went perfectly, of course. I was sure it was going to be the family of three who would diss me on Trip Advisor - after they had been finished their meal for quite some time,  I suggested that they continue their conversation at a table in the foyer, with complimentary dessert and coffee. They had been sitting for awhile  over their empty ice tea glasses, having a discussion with their son, and I really really needed their seats for a new party who'd been patiently waiting for their chance at a table.  I rarely, if ever, ask a paying guest to vacate, but I was desperate.  They were a little taken aback, and I don't blame them, but the write-up of their unhappy experience has not yet made it to the online review forum.

The couple who chose not to wait for a table on Friday night however, did make their disappointment known.  The complaint of their treatment is a long rant about being discriminated against because they were too young for us to consider.  It is ironic in that I remember the couple and remember thinking that it was unusual on such a busy night that they did not want to wait the relatively short wait, but when I saw her "review" I understand what must have been going through her mind.

The first slight, apparently, occurred when I did not go over to greet them in a timely fashion, after someone had informed them that I would.  The fact is, I was occupied with opening a bottle of wine for a customer, and of course, as is my way, enjoying the opportunity this task offers to discuss wine and what not with them.  More than likely I had to do something else before I could approach the desk and the waiting guests, seeing as it was busy and I had been doing "something else" pretty much non-stop the entire night. Some might call it "mingling", some might call it work, but I call it part of my job at managing the dining room. As long as someone acknowledges the waiting customer, and lets them know that someone will be with them shortly, I figure I can finish anything I might have already started before I go to the door.  

Because I had been so busy working the tables, I really didn't know exactly what the wait was, so I used my standard formula of 15 to 30 minutes, rather than make them wait even longer while I checked for more detailed information. This was a young couple - frankly it's usually older folks who don't want to wait - and I knew at the very least that if it was 15 minutes, it wouldn't be much more than that.  When they shook their heads no, they didn't want to wait at all, I figured "oh well" and moved on.  By the time another party had come through the foyer and was offered an immediate table, it's more than likely it was because a table had opened up sooner rather than later.  I can't  remember the party she refers to - older? better looking? better dressed? who knows.  I am generally too busy to pay much attention to that, unless it is something outrageous. I do find it kind of odd that a person would hover around to see if someone else got seated when they didn't, while they wouldn't wait for a table of their own.   Why would you do that?

Explain the "free tables"?  We had the aforementioned large parties and at 7:30 on Friday night we would have been waiting for an 8PM six at least.  What I can't explain is the "smirk on her face".  What?  I told Kevin yesterday, I don't even know how to make my face "smirk".  As though I would enjoy turning a guest away.  What kind of business person would do that?  And these people were totally unknown to me - never seen them before, never will again either, I suppose, but why would I "smirk" when I told them the wait? Actually, I had to look the word smirk up in the dictionary to understand what it implied. No, definitely not in character.

I wrote a response to this negative tirade, being as professional and sympathetic as I could, but really, this is pretty ridiculous, to judge a business based on that much exposure to it.  What next?  a blast about how our parking lot has no spots near the door and who do we think we are? or how no one answered the phone and who do we think we are?  or how we wanted to go to Brooks but they were closed on the day we wanted to go and who do we think we are?   I am not sure exactly what's with all those personally negative attacks that our Trip Advisor reviewers lay on us, but one thing is for sure  - it makes for some interesting reading.  Not to mention gives me some material for this blog!  Ha!

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