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.