How Loyal Are You?

We all have our favorite restaurants, the ones where they may know our names or treat us like we are their most favorite customers. We've all had not-so great or even bad restaurant experiences. I've even had bad experiences in my favorite restaurants. But, what's the breaking point? At what point do you decide to not return?

For us, we always try to give a place at least two tries before we write them off completely. While it completely irks me, I can *kind of* accept bad customer service if the food is outstanding. I can more easily accept less than stellar or boring food if the customer service rocks my world. But if the service stinks and the food is boring, uninspired or just plain not good, we usually vow to not return.

Here's the thing. We all have bad days and you NEVER know what is going on in someone's personal life, hence the reason for our two visit policy. But, if you violently slam a glass down on my table and storm off because someone in my party asked for a new drink due to lipstick on the glass, you probably won't get a return visit from me (and haven't).

What's most important to you in a restaurant? What makes you not return to a place? And do you tell the owner/chef? Part of our goal here at Eat Salem is to help improve the restaurant scene in Salem. And one of the things I've heard from owners/chefs is they want to know if there is a problem. How do you handle the potentially awkward situation of telling an owner/chef about your bad experience? Do you address it immediately?


KandN said...

After being a member of eatsalem, I can now understand the importance of communicating either an excellent or lousy experience with restaurant owners.
I'd prefer to communicate via email, so I have time to collect my thoughts and not just vent. Ideally, an email address should be available on a restaurant's website. Otherwise, the complaint may find it's way onto Twitter or FB.

DeeDeeDiner said...

If the food is exceptional, I can handle a fair amount of problematic service.

The things that drive me crazy (and often away) are sheer ineptitude, a blase attitude or lack of knowledge about the food. A dirty environment usually does not merit a return visit for any reason.

Jason said...

I wish wait staff knew more about food. The example I always give: I was at a fairly-new-at-the-time Salem-Keizer restaurant and asked "What do people rave about? What do you hear is really good?"

Her answer? "I dunno if there's anything anybody has really said is GOOD." (Not making this up.) Never went back.

Chuck Bradley said...

I agree with the above comments.

People who serve the public, in the private sector, must check their personal problems and "bad days" at the door. If they can't do that, they're in the wrong business. Surly and indifferent attitudes, in large measure, reflect what the owner of the establishment is willing to tolerate. (Nepotism is almost always a bad business decision.) Having said that, I understand, from experience, what a nightmare balancing act staffing can be. So I'll cut a lot of slack to a place/server that is overtaxed and putting forth their best effort.

Bad food, by the same venue/cook/owner, in my experience, seldom gets better. I won’t eat it twice if I can help it.

Kristi said...

Ha Ha Amber! I too have not returned after the lipstick incident!

I don't know why, but bad service seems to be too common. Is it the economy that makes us all edgy or are there a limited number of waitstaff in Salem to choose from?

I admit I do cut slack to my favs. The ones where I feel like they support other local businesses, try to make Salem a good place for all of us and work to create something unique.

My advice to all local owners/chefs is this- don't take us, your customers, for granted. Times are tight and we're becoming more frugal than we used to be. If you can't treat us right, we'll just eat at home. :)

Anonymous said...

Loyal? Way too much sometimes. I go to the same coffee shop everyday because I know the owner. The coffee isn't the best but the service is excellent.

Whites is another example. The food isn't as good as other options but the service is great.

Off center cafe is the opposite end of the spectrum. Great food but, well, service problems.

greg said...

great food at christo's.. service is horrid!

Anonymous said...

The service has really gotten a lot better at Christo's. It had a rough patch, but the last three times the service has been very good.