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?