Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Dos and Don'ts in the Restaurant Business

Restaurants are a key part of my daily diet. I find it exciting to try new types of food and cuisines. That's why I'm often "in the know" when a new restaurant has sprung up in the neighborhood. People call and ask me where to eat and what to eat. It feels good that they find my advice valuable.

With that I've taken note of the most annoying things I find in a restaurant that will make me promise to myself never to come back:

1. Don't offer items on the menu that aren't available. On one occasion, I encountered a menu where most of the items were unavailable. I told the manager why bother giving us the menu? An early warning would have sufficed.

2. Similar to #1, don't take orders for something that isn't available. My family was eating at an Asian Restaurant that was ill-prepared to handle our group. My brother and cousin ordered the same dishes. The spicy pork ribs if I'm not mistaken. Only after 30 minutes did the food start to trickle in. Exasperated to see that all of us were eating except them, they asked what happened to their orders. Turns out that it was not available. Seriously, they were pissed!!

3. Don't send out waiters that don't know a thing about your menu. More often than not, your customers will ask about your food. Two days ago my mom asked a waiter what kind of suka (vinegar) was being used in a salad that we were eating. The waiter scratched his head and said "vinegar sya mam" (it is vinegar). Well, duh mister, my mom didn't ask for a translation!

4. Don't use "lang" (only) in explaining what's inside a dish. In one of my favorite Japanese restaurants, a waiter was attempting to explain what a Shoyu Ramen is. He said in Filipino: "noodles lang sya sir, pati sabaw" (it's only noodles and soup). The worst thing you can do is reduce a dish into something so basic such as noodles and soup. After hearing that, would you still order a Shoyu Ramen? I didn't think so.

5. It's common courtesy to give customers a full or partial refund when something goes awry, like when a waiter spills soup on a customer, or an alien life form is found swimming in the food. Restaurants here rarely honor that practice. These refunds mean a deduction to the manager's and/or staff's salaries. But then again it is the right thing to do.

6. Don't stop customers from taking pictures of their food. The worst sin is to piss off a food blogger. Blogging is a great way to promote your restaurant. Leave them be -- they're not trying to steal your trade secrets. If you read nothing great or nothing at all about your establishment on the Internet, that means only thing. Your restaurant sucks.

7. Having lots of flies, roaches or rats inside your restaurant is never excusable. I was eating at a place that specialized in grilled baby back ribs. The problem was a bunch of fruit flies was hovering above it while I was trying to eat the damn thing. I complained. The manager said "matamis kasi ang sauce nyan" (it's because the sauce is sweet). Lamest. Excuse. Ever.

8. Don't serve cooked food that's older than a day. Odds are that food will taste not as good than if it were newly cooked. Moreover, it could be already spoiled.

9. Use realistic pictures on your menus. Too much bells and whistles in your pictures will leave your customers "underwhelmed" when they see the real thing.

10. Print ample amounts of menus. Count the number of tables in your restaurant. That's the minimum number of menus you should have ready. To be safe, double that.


  1. Number 8 is very important to me coz I can tell when the food served is just re-heated. And I absolutely don't like eating those (oo maarte me eh hehe).

  2. LOL'ed at #7. You don't want to see my reaction when I was eating on a good restaurant and there were (were because there were 3) roaches crawling on the table and on my lap...

  3. oh yes, the food servers. they're the sales agent and should definitely know how to "sell" their products. they should be "armed"! ;)

  4. really someone tried to stop you from taking pictures of their food ? it's like saying you can eat but not look.

    I also don't like reheated food. It's gonna go wrong one way or another, too soggy, too burnt, less tasty, unfresh. Every day should start and end with food cooked only for that day.

    Great tips ! I could imagine you getting pissed 10 times to form this list. (woot)

  5. on item no.5
    i went to a nearby restaurant at arvince along claveria st. (at the back of body bliss) i was pissed off when they served sizzling t-bone steak that i found very tough to eat, i mean i was having difficulty slicing it (hard as rubber). after i ate i complained but they still charge me for it. disappointed at their service.CRAPP!!!..

  6. Before we were eating at a Vietnamese restaurant and poof! A caterpillar was staring at me from my friend's salad. My friend was pretty sensitive so uh.. free food for both of us? O.O

  7. @Blogie: Srsly, binasa mo ba talaga? haha

    @Aileen: A lot of restos here violate that rule. :\

    @Ronie: I found a lizard in my congee from Chow King. :s Toink. I didn't come back for 5 years or more.

    @Gwen: They really should be trained before they get hired!

    @Jay: Yes, the last time was at Fagioli! Can you believe it!?

    @foodtripping: You could have just said you're not paying for it. And left.

    @Fiel: Ughh, that's gross! Dapat free na yun!

  8. all fair points ... sometimes easier said than done. It's a tough business.