Saturday, December 12, 2009

Acting like an owner

We went to the Hackensack Maggiano's for a late dinner tonight. There was a half hour wait for a table, so we ate at the bar. The whole time the bartender was loudly complaining about how busy it was, about a particular customer who asked him if he had some cordial, etc. Normally when something like this happens, I say I'm going to write the restaurant and never get around to it, but tonight I grabbed one of the manager's business cards and fired off a quick e-mail to him at 11:51pm. Seven minutes later, I got this response from him:

Thanks for letting me know about this situation. I am still in the restaurant and will immediately follow up on your feedback which I appreciate.

I am so sorry that it was not a more pleasant experience. The bartender should be happy it was a busy night!

I would love to send you a gift certificate to make up for this. What is the best address to use?


Can't handle it better than that. Brinker must do a good job of incentivizing its restaurant managers to act like owners.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

i find it incredible that you thought it necessary to complain to the store manager simply because you found the bartender to be speaking to loudly, or even worse- that he mentioned it was a frustrating shift and had the nerve to give a couple reasons why

i mean, it must have been horrible for you

it appears youve never worked in a restaurant job before- and likely never anywhere in the service industry

it isnt easy- and yes, customers can get on your nerves at times or can be difficult- and being on your feet for 8-12 hours and being barked at is not a pleasant experience

anyhow, you should give the gift certificate to some non-profit that may be holding an auction night- or perhaps give it to a local public school to give to a teacher who has been doing a good job

or god forbid, give it to somebody who serves YOU in some capacity (secretary, gardener, IT person etc)

lastly, i hope it was worth getting this bartender spoken to by his manager- in instance that may very well ahve led to him being written up, given that its part of a chain owned by a large public company, where everything is logged and documented etc

wow- youve got quite a sack, dave in hackensack

have a great wkend and hopefully you wont suffer from any bad karma

Cheryl said...

i mean, it must have been horrible for you

You know what Anonymous, when I go out to dinner I want to have a pleasant time or else I would have stayed home and boiled a box of pasta and heated up some Paul Newman's sauce instead. The bartenders were not just complaining the whole time, they were rude to us. They slammed down our drinks, never asked us if we needed anything else like olive oil for dipping the bread into and never bothered to give us new plates after our salad, and I could go on.

it appears youve never worked in a restaurant job before- and likely never anywhere in the service industry

Well, I don't know if you are aware of this, but Dave is actually none other than the Prince of Spain, Felipe Juan Pablo Alfonso de Todos los Santos de Borbón y Grecia (His Royal Highness the Prince of Asturias, Girona and Viana), so no, he has never worked in the service industry. We only live part of the year here in Hackensack far away from the Spanish press so we can live amongst the "normal" people and we also dine at chain restaurants so we don't forget about the common man.



or god forbid, give it to somebody who serves YOU in some capacity (secretary, gardener, IT person etc)

Oh yes, that is a brilliant idea, but should we give it to our manservant Jeeves or to our chauffeur?

lastly, i hope it was worth getting this bartender spoken to by his manager- in instance that may very well ahve led to him being written up, given that its part of a chain owned by a large public company, where everything is logged and documented etc

I highly doubt that they were written up for something like this but I am sure the manager talked to them about it. And you know what, maybe they will realize how they were acting and that will change their attitudes for the next time it's really busy.

And why are you so concerned about the bartender and not the manager? We met the manager on several occasions and he is the nicest man. He is so friendly and customer service oriented that he must have been imported in somewhere from the Midwest because people here are never that friendly. What if someone from corporate came in and was treated the way we were, who would be responsible? The manager of course. Shouldn't we let him know what his employees are doing, good or bad, so he can effectively manage them.

Did these guys not realize that they work off of tips and you the busier you are, the more money you make in tips. They should have been happy that it was busy because they were making more money! I am usually a good tipper but I only gave the bartenders less than 15% because of their rudeness. And you know what, maybe they shouldn't be bartenders if they can't handle being busy or dealing with bad customers. I worked in retail and I hated it so I quit and got an office job. No one is making them be bartenders. And you know what else, in the same mall there is a Houston's restaurant and it's a hundred times busier than Maggianos and the bartenders there are always polite and professional. I am sure they make good tips there.

Anonymous said...

"...They should have been happy that it was busy because they were making more money!"

This is textbook bourgeoisie mentality. Has it ever occurred to the snob class that many service workers are not working to get rich, but rather working to pay the bills and maintain a level of sanity during the time they must spend at work - without frying their brains and perpetually running around like a chicken with its head cut off? I get a real kick out of the uber-capitalist bourgeoisie attitude that presumes every laborer prefers to work themselves to death so they can accumualte as much toys as possible before they die.


"...And you know what, maybe they shouldn't be bartenders if they can't handle being busy or dealing with bad customers. I worked in retail and I hated it so I quit and got an office job."

Anybody who quits a service job because they hated it forfeits the right to bitch and moan about others who currently endure that type of labor. How do you know that your bartender wasn't currently looking for an office job so he can resign from bartending? Would you prefer he mull over his options while living in a homeless shelter? I used to work in the service industry so I know how tough it is. If I encounter a rude waiter or bartender, I first assume they're having a bad day or bad week. So yeah, I may cut my tip and leave it at that. But I won't put their job in jeopardy, for it is not my responsibility to cover the owner's back - unless he should happen to be a blood relative. But as is usually the case, I'm more friendly and beholden to the wait staff and bartenders than I am to the owner. I suggest to you that your social alignments are excessively skewed toward the priviliged class. And, oh yeah, take a chill pill before your next night out. Enjoy a little.

Cheryl said...

I suggest to you that your social alignments are excessively skewed toward the priviliged class

I hardly think that a manager of a chain restaurant in suburban America is a member of the "privileged" class. Anon, I come from a working class family who worked hard just to keep a roof over my head. I do not consider myself aligned with the privileged at all. When I want to spend my hard earned money on a night out, however, I want to enjoy it not be stressed out.

The bartenders were going to be busy that night regardless so wouldn't it make sense to not be rude to your customers because you are only going to hurt your tips in the end. You are already busting your ass at a crappy job, wouldn't you rather bust your ass making 20K or 40K? And all you had to do was not be rude.

And for the record, I am very nice to waiters and everyone in the service industry. Much more so then you are to bloggers.

Island Baby said...

Wow, Anon.,I think you are a bit harsh there. Sounds like you are most likely an unhappy bartender somewhere getting poor tips because of your lousy attitude. Why don't you put your name to your words? Coward much?
Good for you Dave! Managers need this kind of feedback to run a successful restaurant. People spend their hard earned money to enjoy a night out,and should be treated well.
Enjoy your gift certificate Dave!

Anonymous said...

"..I do not consider myself aligned with the privileged at all."

If that were really the case, then you would have empathized with the bartender when he confided in you about his rough night, instead of dropping a dime on him for lack of dipping sauce or whatever. By the way, as is the case with all master/slave relationships, privilige is defined by the ability to chop heads. In this case, privilige obviously belongs to the manager.


"...The bartenders were going to be busy that night regardless so wouldn't it make sense to not be rude to your customers because you are only going to hurt your tips in the end."

Maybe he was having a bad day, with particularly bad customers. Maybe he doesn't need the money enough to perform like a circus seal on crack. Or maybe he was sick. Or tired. Or both. Maybe he was pulling a double. Or maybe...

Maybe it was his last day.

http://www.youtube.com/user/adellethegreat#p/a/B925335B080A423D/0/GANCTXk_lms

Anonymous said...

Here's the link at the end of my previous post.

http://www.youtube.com/user/adellethegreat#p/a/B925335B080A423D/0/GANCTXk_lms

Anonymous said...

It's worth one more shot.

http://www.youtube.com/user/adellethegreat#p/a/B92
5335B080A423D/0/GANCTXk_lms

DaveinHackensack said...

0-for-3, Anonymous. How about learning some elementary HTML tags?

"It's worth one more shot."

Judging by the first minute and a half I'd say it really wasn't, but I'll let others judge for themselves: It's My Last Day Here - Ukulele Original & Waitress Anthem.

Homer315 said...

Anon is certifiably nuts. I like the blanket statement that if someone *ever* worked in a service industry and quit, they forfeit the right to complain about poor service. No one put a gun to the bartender's head and forced him to tend bars. There are 10,000 other jobs he could do instead. He chooses to be a bartender, plain and simple.

I like how you simply excuse his poor performance because he MIGHT be having a hard day. You know what? Tough shit. Do your job. If the guy had the same attitude twice, could Dave and his wife "dime him out" then? Three times? What's the limit? Having a hard day doesn't justify doing your job like shit, no matter how much you think the "bourgeoisie" have it in for you.

Anon, I read through your comments twice, and I can confidently say you're an a$$hat. And an apologist.

Anonymous said...

Dave, thanks for fixing the link. I don't know about HTML tags. I just copy and paste.

One other thing I need to mention is that any service manager worth his salt already knows who his problem employees are - through mingling and observation. And if he doesn't know, then I'd go as far as to say it's the manager who needs to be removed!

It's possible that the manager who gave you your free meal coupon didn't even bother to tell the bartender about the incident. I have seen this happen a number of times in my old profession. There's no reason to upset a good employee whom the manager has known and liked for years without difficulty - to upset him over a rare occurance? Not likely. In fact, if the manager is good friends with the bartender, it's even probable that they were joking about it or even making fun of you guys after you left. I've seen this happen too. The service industry is a world unto itself. Never underestimate the depth of camaraderie in the service industry. My old manager and I used to ridicule difficult customers as soon as they left the store. I've seen all of this and more with my own eyes.

These people work with each other, day in and day out. Year in and year out. The only way the manager would have taken your complaint seriously is if he was getting complaints on a weekly or daily basis. In which case, the bartender probably would have been long gone. Of course you'll get a freebie coupon out of it no matter what. That's just to shut you up so you don't take your complaint to corporate.

That's how it works in the real world. Recall the scene from "Back To School", where student Rodney Dangerfield explains to his business teacher what it takes to start a company.

Anonymous said...

"No one put a gun to the bartender's head and forced him to tend bars. There are 10,000 other jobs he could do instead. He chooses to be a bartender, plain and simple."

10,000 job alternatives for a bartender? Wow, maybe I should become a bartender so I can visualize the 9,999 alternative lives that beckon. In reality, most people I know can't think of more than one or two types of jobs that would happily suit them. And even then, the likelihood of burnout looms large. Free-marketeers believe in this fantasy that everybody should be perfectly happy and suited to their job - without complaint - from the person who shovels manure to the CEO of a Fortune 500. In reality, this is impossible.

"...I like the blanket statement that if someone *ever* worked in a service industry and quit, they forfeit the right to complain about poor service."

I said, "if they ever worked in a service industry and quit BECAUSE THEY HATED IT". It makes intuitive sense that a person who hates doing a certain job would have a little more sympathy and compassion and patience for those who are doing that same job for them now. Or better yet, do what I do, and try not to put yourself in a situation where you'll be needing the services of a type of labor which you despise and are not willing to do yourself. But if you do find yourself in such situation from time to time, cut the hypocrisy and handle your servers' inevitable missteps with a little grace.

therivers said...

Wow. I did not expect to see such a shitstorm over a restaurant posting!

Speaking as someone who has worked in the food service industry, there is no shortage of rude customers in the world. But that doesn't mean you neglect the next customer as a result. And speaking as a customer, I'm just as likely to tell management about exceptional service, as I am to gripe about exceptionally bad service. In fact, I did the former just today.

Anon, I think you're overreacting. Look at it this way: if the bartender felt like he was in the right, he has nothing to fear from his manager. Maybe there had been some earlier event that "excused" his rude behavior. It doesn't still doesn't mean the next customer deserves to be treated poorly. It happens- we're all human- but it's not right.

DaveinHackensack said...

Y.,

I didn't expect this reaction either. Good points.

It's really as simple as treating other people with courtesy and respect, whether you are the waiter/bartender (or in any other customer-facing role) or the customer. Treat people as you would like to be treated. The bartender wasn't doing that.

I happened to have observed his interaction with the customer he later described to a colleague as a "rude shit" or something to that effect. That customer wasn't rude at all. Apparently, he had been told at his table that the bar was out of some particular brandy, and he walked over to the bar to look at what was available. He asked about a particular bottle on the wall, and the bartender told him curtly that it was blackberry brandy instead some other flavor, and the customer said that that was fine and he'd try that one.

BTW, speaking of restaurants, Y., did you see the earlier post about how the Ryland Inn chef's new gig? I'm going to have to check that out.

Homer315 said...

Anon (or should I call you troll),

Talk about a bourgeoisie attitude. You're the one claiming that because the guy's a bartender he doesn't have the same opportunities as the rest of us. Is he not allowed to rise above his station? There's something stopping him from doing any other job in the world other than bartender because he *IS* a bartender?

This has nothing at all to do with "free market" ways of thinking. You know what I think it does have to do with? Free will. The guy is free to do whatever the hell he wants. I really don't care. But your argument is essentially that, becaues the service industry can be a giant pain in the ass to workers in the industry, that somehow excuses doing a crappy job. At the heart of it, that's what you're saying.

Your second response to my post doesn't even pass the smell test. Avoid putting yourself in a situation where I'll need the services of a type of labor I despise and don't want to do myself? Really? There are 1000 things I bet the average person doesn't want to do -- unfortunately that doesn't mean I can check out from the world like the Unabomber and avoid those services. I don't want to drive a cab, but if I get in the cab and the guy is driving recklessly, you can be sure I'll either say something to him and/or not tip him for his shitty service. I wouldn't want to have to be a garbageman for a living but it doesn't mean that if the guy dumps garbage all over my driveway I will just say, oh well, I don't want to do that so I can't complain.

The bartender was providing a service FOR A FEE. Remember?!? It's not like the guy was volunteering. If you're paying for something, you have every right to expect the benefit of the other side's performance. How do you think the bartender would have responded if D&C said, "You know what, you made my experience suck, so I don't think I'll be paying the bill tonight. Have fun." Yeah, I bet the bartender wouldn't have been very amenable to that.

Anonymous said...

worth noting that there may not be just one ''anon''

btw cheryl, sorry you didnt have the "pleasant time" you insist upon when you "go out", nobody bats 1000%

the reality is, both you and dave seem to have quite a sense of entitlement if you think having less than a pleasant time warrants a free meal or getting somebody in trouble ...

sometimes you shrug your shoulders and simply recognize somebody might have had an off-night

i shudder to think what might happen if you were being scrutinized every moment you two were working- and were open to constant criticism and evaluation of each move ...

i mean gimme a break --

perhaps if you and dave were engaged in a more lively conversation, or talking to toher ppl at the bar or just having more fun, you wouldnt be consumed w every interaction the bartender had w other customers, or each comment bartender might have made to his co-workers- or, heavens no- not getting a new salad plate!!!

(did you ever think to simply request one ??)

another great evening in the 'sack ...

nice work !

oh yes dave- it was a diff ''anon'' but still, nice dig that he isnt up on his html skills !

it must be great living in such an enlightened world where the service is always prompt and with a smile and everyone has mastery of the world wide web ...

anyhow, despite the inherent humor in all of this, i do enjoy your blog

therivers said...

I did catch that post. Mmmm. Diner food. Another thing we don't have here is the famous Taylor pork roll- diner staple. I doubt Craig will be serving any, however.

DaveinHackensack said...

Pork roll? Is Mrs. Rivers letting you hit the bars these days? I don't remember seeing you ever eat that sober.

BTW, got a nice letter from the Maggiano's manager today along with $50 in gift certificates.

therivers said...

It's not an every day thing, to be sure. But we crave what we can't have. Just like good pizza & bagels.

DaveinHackensack said...

Ask your friends at the 5-Spot to add a pork roll, egg & cheese to the menu. While you're there, ask them where they get that kick ass coffee.