How to Handle a Less Than Stellar Restaurant Experience
We've all been there. You plan a night out with your partner. Your plans including dining out at a restaurant you've heard a lot about but never been to or maybe it's your favorite restaurant on the planet. You are excited and can't wait for your dining experience! Then something goes wrong. The server might have been off that night, the food a little salty, or maybe you asked for wine and got gin. Nevertheless, mistakes were made, and the perfect night of food that you envisioned in your head was tarnished.
What should you do? Should you tell the manager? Should you talk shit on the restaurant facebook wall? Should you bash them on twitter? Should you write a nasty review on yelp?
How should you handle a less than stellar restaurant experience?
First let's talk what NOT to do:
If you have a restaurant experience that is not up to par the first thing that you should NOT do is write them an email through Facebook. Even though Facebook is a great tool for restaurants, it is not that great for email. A well known Chef or restaurant can have many friends or fans, which in turn means many facebook messages. The likelihood of a Chef having the time to check his normal email and Facebook messages is highly unlikely. Stick with business email always.
Next thing never to do after a bad restaurant experience is post a shitty comment on the restaurant's Facebook wall. Same goes for twitter. Nobody likes somebody who talks shit. A restaurant is the same. People actually work at the restaurant you are bashing. Families depend on the income from the restaurant for survival. Your bashing them (whether deserved or undeserved) is frankly a bit Mean Girls.
A girl posts a comment to our new restaurant's facebook wall. Went to eat at Noodlecat. It was awful. I expected so much more. #notimpressed.
That's not really that horrible of a comment. To each his own right?
Seeing as how I run all of the restaurant's social media as well as contact email, I know this girl never spoke to anyone. She never asked to speak with a manager about her awful experience, nor did she write an email. She just went right for the jugular. In turn I deleted her comment. If she doesn't have enough respect for my restaurant to have the decency to contact anyone at the restaurant about her so called awful experience, then I don't have the respect for her to allow her to post her opinion on our facebook wall. Had she contacted us and spoken with someone about her experience, I am sure her view of her experience would not be so awful. If we didn't resolve the situation, then I would have never deleted her comment. Frankly we would have deserved it.
What TO DO if your experience at a restaurant is sub-par:
If you are not happy with your experience at a restaurant, the most responsible and respectful thing you can do is ask to speak with a manager. Tell the manager what the problem is. The manager (if he/she is good) knows how to respond to every situation. If for some reason the manager sucks and you feel like your problem is not resolved best thing to do next is write an email. Most restaurants' main email goes to more than one person. For example our contact email for our restaurant goes to me, the Chef, and all the managers. If there is an issue it is seen by many and will most likely get resolved immediately. If for some reason your issue is not resolved through email the first time, I would resend and also make a call to the restaurant. Ask to speak with a manager or Chef. Most restaurant who employ Chef's, employ them as managers as well. They are completely capable to handle an unsatisfied guest. If the restaurant you had a bad experience in doesn't respond to any of your attempts, fuck 'em, they don't deserve your business anyways.
The most important thing to remember if you have a crap experience at a good* restaurant is to be respectful. Keep in mind that someone's children are fed and clothed because of the restaurant, a father can send his kid to college because of the restaurant, a single mom can send her son to a good school because of the restaurant, a dying city can start to rebuild because of the restaurant. Think of that before you bash a restaurant online or in the flesh. Help them change, help them make your next experience all that you wanted.
Anything I've missed?
*good restaurant is defined by a non chain restaurant that actually cooks real food.