When a restaurant screws up your dining experience, how—if it can—make up for it? As I posted on Friday, my company holiday party this year would consist of a progressive dinner at different local restaurants. One of our restaurant stops was totally ill prepared for the twenty-three of us. I made the reservation at The Craftsman four days prior to the dining date and was assured it would have plenty of room for us and that we would be well cared for.
We entered the restaurant on time and were greeted by the host with eight, count ‘em, eight chairs! What are twenty-three hungry people supposed to do with eight chairs? Well, we did as most restaurant workers are used to doing, we ate standing up. This was supposed to be an evening for all of us to be on the other side of the service industry and let professionals take care of us, not our usual routine of eating on the run, standing up, or snarfing cold leftovers. I could not help but feel the restaurant had gotten greedy on a night when it was busier than usual, deciding to accommodate unexpected walk-ins and short shrift us.
The restaurant did try to make up for its gaff by buying us a round of drinks and comping an app or two. Does this make up for putting twenty-three people on their feet to eat a dinner? If a smaller group had made a reservation for six guests and it only had seats for three, would the other three stand and eat their dinner? I think not; they would probably turn around and walk out. Now, I owned restaurants for many years, and buying food, drinks, or an entire meal is the usual course to placate upset diners due to restaurant screwups. But, we always had seats for all the diners, and a very large group would be specially cared for. Large groups have the potential to talk a lot, especially if they have a bad experience.
The effort at this particular restaurant seemed to be so lacking and the service staff so insincere that I cannot help feeling angry and slighted. What can a restaurant do to make up for bad service and reservation gaffs? I think the only way to make up for a mistake of this magnitude is to comp the whole meal, not a round of beverages and an appetizer or two. In my opinion, The Craftsman dropped the ball not once, but twice. What do you think?