How to lose 10 customers within 1 hr

Restaurants epitomize service businesses. And service businesses are high touch. You touch customers with what you offer and its personal. That’s why when someone opens a new restaurant and that too in a low traffic area, you need to pay more attention to customer satisfaction. But our recent experience at a new restaurant showed that entrepreneurs can be missing the big picture pretty badly. A new restaurant, not a high traffic area, not a specialty restaurant (they serve practically any type of cuisine), a house’s backyard converted into a open space (this was done reasonably well), chef doesn’t know what he is talking about, many menu items are not available, some menu items do not have the ingredients mentioned (apparently it was a typo in the menu), food below average. The only thing above average was the price.

The chef comes to us asking for our feedback and we were wondering whether to sugar coat it or be honest. We decided to be honest and told him that mocktail was pretty bad (mixing coriander with basil will kill basil – and it had the makings of a wheatgrass shot), main course was pretty bad – too bland, too creamy, too overcooked etc., Anyone with half an ounce of brain would know that this was a screw up – we weren’t going to come back. We may actually be dissuading 10 others to avoid this place.

What would you, as a restaurant owner, do at this point?

Its actually easy to convert this bad situation into a good one (or at least neutralize it). Offer apologies, free dinner next time? Well, the owner wasn’t around at all. The chef obviously doesn’t know what to do (pretty junior guy). He goes ahead and charges us even for the bread basket that we thought was on the house.

We left.

PS: It is very stressful to decide on a tip when you’ve have unpleasant experience. We left a tip but I thought we were under emotional blackmail. Hated the person who started this restaurant even more for this.

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