‘Have you been here before?’
We have all been to a restaurant like this. There is something unique about the dining experience and they feel compelled to explain the process.
For Manilow, this only complicates matters.
We know how it’s going to work: we’ll review the menu, we’ll order food, and then you bring the food to us. Even if there is something special – they serve small plates, entrees are family style – we can probably understand that.
No, we don’t want sparkling water
Or if we do, we’ll ask.
Manilow says restaurateurs are tired of being sold sparkling and bottled water. Give us tap water, and we’ll order anything else like we would a normal drink.
Salt and pepper are standard. The prices too.
People have strong opinions when it comes to adding seasoning to a dish. Some restaurants believe that their meals are prepared not to be altered. Others think it’s rude to ask for salt and pepper after trying the food because it implies the chef has under-seasoned the meal.
Manilow says customers prefer to have salt on the table early on. That way, if someone decides they want to add more seasoning to their food, they can do so without having to ask the servers.
Manilow compares this to the predicament customers find themselves in when restaurants don’t include menu prices. You look cheap if you ask how much something costs, but no one wants to risk being unpleasantly surprised when they get their bill. Just be available and save us from having to ask.
Take into account the uncontrollable
Things are not always under the server’s control. What if the air conditioning turns off and the restaurant is uncomfortably hot? Or is the food arriving at the table undercooked?
This is not the fault of the waiter or even the restaurant, and customers need to know that. But for Manilow, how they handle these situations can make or break the experience.
Restaurants and servers that refuse to acknowledge obvious flaws in their service only compound the problem. Address the elephant in the room and try to accommodate him as best you can; don’t pretend it’s usually that hot here.
Butts in the faces
Many restaurants have sections of their restaurant that are less ideal than others. There’s a table near a bus station, for example, and it can lead (as Manilow puts it) to “butts in faces”.
For Manilow, this may be acceptable in small restaurants that lack space. But when big restaurants are clearly trying to squeeze every inch of the floor at the expense of the dining experience, that’s when it becomes an annoyance.