There is a local Tex-Mex restaurant that we visit as often as possible. The food is great, but that is not why we go. We go because the people there recognize us as soon as we walk in the door. They say "Hello, it is good to see you." They remark on how much my son has grown as they bring us drinks, chips, and salsa. The food is always hot, the ice tea is always cold. That is why we go to that particular restaurant.
I realize that there are many, many restaurants out there. I try to visit as many as I can. Even if I can see no good reason for sushi, I like most food. The key to a successful business, however, is repeat customers. Just about everyone out there will try a local eatery once, but if they don't ever want to come back, that business is going belly up soon. When I visit a restaurant, I have certain expectations. I call these my deal breakers; the more deal breakers, the less likely I will be back.
1. Greet me immediately. Even if the place is slammed, as soon as I come through that door, I expect an acknowledgement that I am there. It can be a "Welcome to ______!" It can be a smile, a nod, and eyebrow flash. It looks poorly on your business if I stand there and you ignore me. Let me know that you see me standing there, waiting for a table, and I'm cool.
2. Bring me a drink within the first five minutes or less after I sit down. As soon as I am seated, take my drink order. I think that whoever seats me should take the drink order, but I realize that the hostess of a place may not be the best person for the job. I can be a little flexible, and wait for the person who is waiting on my table to get to me, as long as it is within my five minute window. No matter what a waiter/waitress is doing, they can do this. I have been known to get up and go into the kitchen and ask if someone will wait on me. I have also been known to leave a place if left sitting longer than five minutes.
3. Bring me exactly what I ask for. I call this the "Laura Lime Rule". I have a very dear friend who happens to like lime with her tea instead of lemon. She specifically asks for lime with her tea for that very reason. Yet much of the time, a glass of tea with lemon is placed in front of her, and she has to repeat her request for limes. This is because everyone else on the planet asks for lemons with their tea, and waitresses/waiters are often on autopilot and don't actually hear what was said. The only conceivable reason that my friend should not get a lime is if there are no limes in the restaurant. I personally do not care if I have a lime or a lemon in my tea, but if I ask for a medium rare steak, then make sure that I get that.
4. Make sure that my food is the right temperature and actually cooked. If my food is supposed to be hot, please verify in some way that it is actually hot. Such an incident does not speak well for the chef/cook. There is absolutely no reason that my baked potato should be cold, for instance. Stick a fork into a baked potato and if it doesn't just slide out, odds are good that the potato is not fully cooked. Butter won't melt if the potato isn't hot enough. Put it back and find one that is. There is nothing more irritating than expecting to bite into a warm baked potato with melted butter and experiencing the crunching sound of a raw potato.
5. If there is a problem, just fix it. If there's a bug in my glass, bring me a new drink. If the steak is not cooked properly, take care of it. Do not argue with me. Do not insist that lemons are much better for iced tea than limes. Do not get angry and huffy with me. I can forgive a mishap; things happen. What I can't forgive is getting drama for speaking up. I deserve to have the meal that I am paying for, without an argument or an attitude.
Did I miss anything?