Accolades: Great Media and reviews.
Key words: Mopey, cold, “underwhelming.”
For a good time, go to the other restaurants I write about.
Related: The cool kids table in high school that is rude to you.
As you know I research which restaurants to go to based off of service reviews, James Beard awards, Michelin stars, and recommendations. This experience taught me that that isn’t always a great indication of service. I found this particular restaurant through media and positive reviews. I contacted them a few months ago and they happily agreed to allow to watch and write about them.
I had sent a reminder e-mail earlier in the day to the owner I had been in communications with, but when I arrived, the manager seemed a bit standoffish. We shake hands and he tells me some of the staff is finishing up a wine tasting and I should have a seat at the bar to wait. Okay.
The bartender blows me off, that’s no huge biggie because I talk with her a little anyway. Is she friendly? No. Is she rude? Absolutely not. She’s just lacking some hospitality traits that I have witnessed from so many others on my journey thus far.
While I waited (for what I’m not so sure) I peruse the menu and taste a wine. I noticed a woman sitting on the other side of the room. She looks quite sad; mopey is a better term. And she must be tired because she sprawls out on the bench she is sitting at and lays down for a bit. What a sad, tired woman! My first thought is she is a delivery driver’s girlfriend who is stuck on yet another route!
A few minutes later Mopey and a couple other girls came to the bar to fold napkins. Mopey sat next to me. I asked her if I could help fold napkins. “If you want,” she replies. She asked me what I was doing at the restaurant and I tell her I am traveling the U.S to write about exceptional service teams and great hospitality. I find out that Mopey has worked at this particular restaurant since day one, which is about two years, as a server. She talks some more, but honestly I have no idea what she said. She mumbled while she spoke and talked into her linens.
Line up time!
The acting chef comes out and goes over some menu changes (which no one writes down). But to their credit, they do ask some clarification questions. The owner then talks about the two hours (he got in for free for those hours, he did not buy tickets) he spent at the Aspen Food and Wine expo and how “underwhelming” of an experience is was. (Underwhelming? I was feeling underwhelmed too! It bothered me though that he was talking smack about a festival for restaurant professionals.)
And then, line-up is over!……………………..
And everyone rushes away, including the owner. Which leaves me there, alone, like an asshole. Hmmm… what should I do? There was no mention of me at the meeting. No one knows why I am here or what I am doing (except the owner and the Mopey) , and apparently no one cares because there is no introductions, no eye contact, and no acknowledgement.
I thought to myself, “Jennifer, follow your gut. This place is not what you want to write about.” After I do some hemming and hawing I decide to respect my instinct and leave. I see the owner walking, as I get up I call to him, “Johnathan!” and I’m not quite sure if he replied, but he kept walking into the office. (No eye contact.)
I run after him and…
Me: “Hey, I don’t want to be awkward, but I don’t think this is the right fit for what I am trying to write about.”
Me: “I want to thank you though for the time you spent in communications with me over e-mail…”
He: “Okay. Bye.”
What a weirdorama experience!
From the owner talkin’ smack about the Aspen expo, to the attitudes of the service team, to the actions of the crew, I got the impression that this was a club of people who considered themselves the “cool kids” and I was not being invited into the club.
If I had written about this restaurant’s team as if they were at the same caliber as the other restaurants I have been to (and are going to), I would be dishonoring those in the industry who really care, who really are special, who really are hospitable.
This restaurant teaches us that, as awesome as we think we are, we have to let others know they too are invited into that cool-cat-club, and not treat people like an outsider.
I’d like to thank the service teams at Pepper Tree, OverEasy, Kelly Liken, The Squeaky Bean, Palace Arms, Frasca, Rioja, Oak at Fourteenth, and Social, for showing me kindness and warmth. I know it’s just what you do, and that’s one reason why you are successful, but I want to thank you anyway!
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