It's In The Details

From Word of Mouth Bistro Salad

By K and N
Perhaps we've all been there: we decide to try a new restaurant and choose to ignore the first few little warning signs (cobwebs, dust, or dirt) and then the waiter/waitress brings out a disappointing green salad. Is it that hard to put together a green salad that looks appealing and inviting? But the salad in the photo above? Now that's a lovely teaser of good things to come!
"Just wait for the main course!", it appears to be saying,
"We care about putting our best on the plate for our customer."

Two out of the three eating establishments, I worked at as a young adult, had an employee take the crate of iceberg lettuce, core each head, remove the outer leaves, break each head apart and toss it all into a big stainless steel sink full of cold water and "potato white" .
This additive was supposed to improve the appearance and keep the lettuce from turning brown. It also lent a flavor and smell that I can still identify--an immediate appetite reducer. I don't mind iceberg lettuce, but it has to be green, fresh, crisp and fully hydrated. It also has to share the plate/bowl with other vegetables.
Other details I look for when eating out: salad dressing on the side, a hearty cup of coffee, helpful suggestions/recommendations, sharing looked upon as a good thing (would you like an extra plate?), good bread (I can get a slice of Oroweat at home) and a plate with eye appeal. I hate to end that list. I'm sure I could add more, but you get the idea.
I hear a lot of people on this site and amongst friends talk about wanting atmosphere. I'm not sure exactly what that means to diners. If you asked 10 people, would you get 10 different answers? I certainly don't want to see cobwebs, dust or dirt, nor do I want to see worn carpet or furniture, dirty tables or stains on the ceiling or walls. But I don't think a mom and pop restaurant should have to invest thousands of dollars in interior design either. I like the idea of enlarging and framing personal landscape photos and painting the walls with up to date colors.
Personalizing, coordinating, maintaining--all important factors when running a restaurant and providing a welcoming atmosphere. As a restaurant owner, it may be good to step back and take a critical look once in awhile and think how you might improve how appealing your atmosphere is to customers.

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