Follow Up- A Note To Restaurant Owners

Following up on my thoughts about service at restaurants and bars for the owners and managers and servers and bartenders-

The point I was trying to make in yesterday’s tirade about the lousy attitude at that particular restaurant was that it behooves everyone to do with that establishment to engage your patrons.

I completely understand if the place is mobbed and your staff is doing everything in their power to get people their food or drink that they shouldn’t be expected to have a full on conversation with every customers.  I get it believe me.  If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time at all you know how often I eat out and like to sing the praises of the awesome restaurants we have here locally.  But even if you’re mobbed you should still be able to afford a smile or gesture of acknowledgment.

There are coffee shops like George’s, Sugar Mag’s and Fort Square Cafe that even when they are full on balls to the walls (I use these places as examples because they are usually very busy and for good reason) the owners and/or servers find ways to engage their customers.  It’s an art form.   There are plenty of lunch and dinner joints that perform the customer service thing equally as well.

The thing is that while I know that there are some patrons that no matter how good the service you provide they will break out their calculator and leave exactly 15-20% of their bill regardless of how well they were served or treated.  However I know there are enough people like myself that if you go just a little out of your way to make me feel welcome that tip on a $10 breakfast can easily go to $3 from $2 or in large parties out for dinner when we are all throwing money in toss in an extra $5 or more because they had a great time because they were made to feel special by their server.  Now $3 instead of $2 is 50% more and at the end of the day if you are working for tips and then at the end of the year you add all that up you just gave yourself a huge raise.

That’s all from the server or bartender’s perspective, what about the owners of these restaurants?

If you think I’ll be going back to that restaurant/bar from the other night any time soon you’re crazy.  There truly are way too many great restaurants/bars in Gloucester where the people welcome you even if they don’t know you and at the very least offer a smile when you belly up.  If you’re not insanely busy and can’t offer up a smile you’ve lost me forever, multiply that times every other person like me.

I think it would benefit you as a restaurant/bar owner to go to one of these places and observe how the servers and bartenders interact with their customers- The Farm Bar and Grill, Duckworth’s, Passports, Topside Grille, Lat 43, Ithaki, Stones Pub, Mamie’s Kitchen.  Please don’t take offense if your restaurant isn’t listed here,  there are way more very worthy local restaurant candidates but for the sake of space I’ll just highlight a few of the standouts.

Check them out and then check out how your staff interacts with their customers.  Are your servers doing anything other than the bare minimum to take an order and bring people their food/drink?  Because in as competitive a restaurant scene as we have here in Gloucester if your staff isn’t good enough to offer up a smile then you are losing your share of customers to the places that are.

Look, I get that not everyone, everywhere can be “ON” all the time, but when I’ve been to the same place a couple of times in a row and get the same “I could care less if you’re here or not” attitude, let me tell you, I’m gonna opt out in favor of someplace that wants to take my money.

10 thoughts on “Follow Up- A Note To Restaurant Owners

  1. I completely agree with you on both posts. And while I’ve had a ton of great experiences in local restaurants and bars, I’ve also had way too many like you described and it is just so wrong on many levels and disappointing as well.


  2. Spot on Joey. Food can miss the mark, other patrons may cause an issue or two, but there is NEVER a valid excuse for poor restaurant/bar service. As a fellow local diner who prefers to sit at a bar when eating, there are only a few fendamentals needed to differentiate between good, bad and ugly service.
    1) Greet the customer with a smile, ask how they are, make them feel welcome. Don’t make the customer ask if there are any specials.
    2) Be available, check in on the food within 2 minutes of serving.
    3) Don’t pull a “Houdini”, if the beer or wine glass is empty for 10+ minutes, you’re straying into the “bad” category.
    4) If there’s a problem, address it up front.

    It’s not rocket science.


  3. Whoop whoop Joey! I agree with both posts and agree with MAJack….I’ve been a server and a bartender. A fantastically great bar to sit at – that Kurt and I have ALWAYS felt welcome – is Espressos. We have a few bartenders that not only wave to us when we walk in, but as we leave as well. Everyone that we’ve ever brought there has received the same hospitality while getting a drink…or two…or five.


  4. Joey, we follow your Gloucester blog with great admiration the whole year through. Your recent rant on a local restaurant has left the innocent, long term restaurants in a really bad place. Not a good thing for all us locals who work and survive and pay tax dollars because of our employment, and our employees who devote their ENTIRE lives to making Gloucester a better place.

    Can you at least call the innocents and reassure them that they were not the focal point of your rant?

    It would bring peace to a really big valley.


  5. While visiting Gloucester last October, we wandered into a long-time Gloucester restaurant, had a great meal, and discovered an interesting connection with our waitress. She asked if we’d mind telling her where we were from. We told her Western Mass, and I explained my Gloucester connection through parents and grandparents. After a little more conversation, we discovered that it was her grandmother who bought my grandmother’s Oak St. house, after my grandmother died. We’ll be sure to return to that restaurant next summer. Hope our friendly waitress will be there! We’re practically related!


  6. I waitressed for 22 years, starting at Friendly’s when I was 15, smile, bottle of ketchup if someone ordered a burger and fries, refill the drink, easy money for me, but then I like people, and definately not rocket science. Sad because it appears these places get away with poor customer service.


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