Food vs Service

Most people laugh at the phrase “No soup for you” and immediately remember The Soup Nazi Seinfeld episode. All joking aside, how far do you let something go into the bad service side if your food is some of the best?

One of my favorite places to eat is a semi fast food place. They are one of the places that has allowed me to cut down on my meat consumption for a while now. I go there at least once a week, but I have struggled with the bad service for a while. The owner is the person that greets you and takes your order most of the time, he know me, knows what I order and even goes as far as to ask me how much it is going to be because he knows I have the amount memorized. The food is prepared well every single time and I have yet to have a bad meal from the place.

The food equation in my head for price is simple. If it is something I can prepare at home in less than 30 minutes and the ingredients are 50% what the cost of the meal is, I think it is a good deal and I am not too overcritical. My favorite dish from this place is something that I think I can imitate or get very close to, but I have not tried yet. I have been trying to guess one of the exact ingredients but since my ear surgery my taste buds are still just enough off that I don’t have as discerning a palate as I used to have.

Strike one against this place came when the owner had a case of mood swings. He was always friendly and greeted me and one day acted very Soup Nazi like when I wanted to replace and ingredient that I had before, heck the food is not pre-made, and also told me they had one of the side dishes only to find out they did not have anymore when I picked up the food. I figured, bad day, and I let it go. He then surprised me the week following by saying that he tried the dish with my ingredient replacement to see how it tasted and said he loved it.

Strike two came a couple of weeks after. Most of the people actually making the food and serving the tables speaks Spanish, heck one of them even has my last name which made me easy to remember. Every time I show up they say hi, and one day the place was empty and I had a conversation with one of the cooks. The conversation was probably just a couple of minutes but the owner got supper upset, possibly because the guy has limited English so we spoke in Spanish and maybe thought we were talking about him. So I let it go again. The food is still too tasty and well priced at this point not to continue giving them my business.

Strike three just made me put them in the, probably not going to go back as often list… or maybe not even at all. I call this place about once a week for take out, he knows my order and I very rarely get something extra. I called during probably a busy time and I was put on hold. No big deal, it happens. He left the phone off the hook and I could hear him taking orders in the background.

Service logic to me dictates that if someone calls for a phone order and you have a line, you ask for the person to hold and GET HELP if you are overwhelmed. Even if you are swamped with people out the door, come back after you finish the first order and tell the caller it will be a while. Nope, the dude left the phone unhooked for a while. I hung up and try to call again to see if a new ring or light might make him remember he had someone “on hold” with no luck. Eventually I got to his restaurant and proceeded to drive past it and hit the fast food joint down the street.

To some this might not be horrible service, but I have been eating there consistently even when the place was a ghost town at the beginning of the year. I don’t think I deserve special treatment, but to just forget that someone is on the phone without answer is something that not even pizza joints do very often anymore. If your restaurant advertises that you do take out and give out menus promoting it, then make sure you at least have two lines.

So do you keep a balance between food and service? I know we talked about a similar subject before when we discussed tipping, and it brought out some opposite views. Do you value service at all, or does good food override any horrible service?

12 Responses to Food vs Service

  1. Service is a huge consideration for me.

    My husband and I were recently overjoyed to find out where our favorite waiter from years ago is now working. Now we’ll say to each other, “Should we go have barbecue and see Ameed?”

    One of the reasons we go to Blue Koi (besides the delicious food) is that Mindy comes over and hugs both of us every time she sees us.

    Bad service and bad food are both deal-breakers.

  2. Don’t care. Good service makes me go back to a place more often, but service like what you described is not something I would stop going someplace for. Frankly, I would prefer as little interaction as possible at most places as long as I can get the food the way I want it.

    Tainted food or over-charging would make me stop. Also, if you’re going to write something like this, you should say who it is. I’m guessing Maui Express.

  3. I don’t eat out enough to give places 2-3 chances. But Chimpo is right,names should be revealed, on the other hand no restaurant should know my last name, that would be the sign that I go there way more than I should.

  4. Not going to reveal the name of the place, and Meesha, if you pay with a credit card, some places will read your name back to you. I actually like when people do that… it gives me the false sense of security.

  5. There is a little gyro stand near where I live. Over and over again, they charge me in excess of the posted prices. I point out the price of the sign and they tell me that the prices have changed and they just haven’t updated the sign yet. Then, when they updated the sign, they immediately started the same routine with the unstated price going up the same amount.

    But the gyros are good and the unstated price is still worth it sometimes.

  6. You don’t need to reveal it since I already did. But you’re doing your readers a disservice by making a post like this and withholding the actual name. If it’s that bad, why would you want to subject your friends to the same thing?

  7. Waiters are like drummers. The best ones aren’t flashy or showey, they are just there, doing there job.

    They don’t sit down at your table like they know you to take your order, they don’t ask you how everything is when you have just taken a bite of your sandwich, they don’t share unwanted and uninteresting details about their life, they don’t pretend to be yer buddy.

    But when your drink gets low, a new one appears without you having to post your empty glass at the outside edge like a beacon or wave your arms at anyone who vaguely appears to be a restaurant employee.

    When you appear to have finished most of your meal, they bring a check and say “pay me when you’re ready”. They don’t avoid eye contact for 10 minutes after you are finished or ask if you “left room for dessert”.

    Like a band needs a good drummer, a diner needs a good waiter. But they should be nearly undetectable.

    A light touch.

  8. If the food is good, I’ll let some bad service slide. If Eric and I know bad service is typical at a place, we have fun with it. Like “Let’s go see that crabby guy at Minsky’s on 39th. I wonder how many times he will cuss while we’re there?”

  9. Chimpo,

    The service is not horrible, I just have higher expectations because of my constant patronage of the place. Also the food is excellent and somebody just going there once in a while might think nothing of the service or even care that the owner can be d-bag.

    If I hated the food I would name it, but in reality I think most people will have adequate service. Just wanted to see people’s thoughts, not necessarily make a PSA.

  10. I don’t get the point of launching into a specific example if you just want someone’s thoughts on a general idea. Plus, the easy argument is that he has more incentive to provide good service to new customers in order to convert them into repeat business. Especially when providing you with what you feel is inadequate service will not result in them being actually called out.

  11. I bring the specific example to set up my frame of mind when making the statement. That is what initiated the thought in my head and it opens the rest of the topic for discussion… many totally ignored my example and just inputted their own experience. The tittle would be (I am not f*ing going to X) if I wanted to just trash the place… I am still leaning towards just finding somewhere else to get that type of food, or making it myself.

    I don’t think I have any clout as a foodie or in general to make any business listen, plus last time I did that (http://blog.logtar.com/2005/12/17/infamous-los-cuatro-amigos-saga/) my picture was posted in a freaking restaurant like a wanted poster, lol so no thanks.

  12. I am glad there are no pictures of me (at least above the waist) in wide circulation.

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