There's been a lot of talk lately about how consumers are cutting back on restaurant visits or, at the very least, trading down to a less expensive eating-out experience. Well, I haven't done either. I never bought big expensive houses or cars over the years because I love going out and celebrating life. A lot of my friends would like to join me, but they can't afford to. They sure do have nice stuff, though.
I bring this up because I've been noticing lately some very good changes out in restaurant land or, perhaps better put, a return to some old-school ways. With dollars and customers in short supply, many of you are on top of your game.
For example, the people you have on the phones are much more accommodating. I spent a considerable amount of time with a reservationist recently who tried to find me a reservation between the unavailable Saturday night times of 5 and 9 p.m. What she was actually doing was trying not to lose me as a customer. She offered a great slot on Friday, etc. Nevertheless, I declined and she apologized (not her fault), but then called me days later to inform me that a 7 p.m. Saturday reservation had cancelled. Wow, I think I love her.
Second, bad hostesses are in much shorter supply. A year ago, it was very easy to find a beautiful, clueless, rude, arrogant hostess waiting for you at the door. Not so much anymore. A great smile goes a long way, but someone who is smart and smooth enough to handle all the activity at the door goes even further. Customers are often won and lost at the door.
Third, you're paying even more attention to regulars. Most of the restaurants I frequent know I'm the editor of a restaurant magazine and I get treated well. I like to think it's because I'm a good guy and I tip well, too, but hey. But I'm seeing owners/managers/chefs out in the dining room a lot more in recent months and they are making a special effort to touch bases with regulars. The faces at those tables are lighting up because someone from the restaurant took the time to acknowledge their presence, their friendship, their support.
I've been ranting lately about the need to make things happen during these hard times. But before you do anything, meet with your troops and go over the blocking-and-tackling basics. Believe me, your customers will notice the results.
New Web Design
Take another look at this magazine's website (see below). We've freshened it up and made it more fun and lively. The new design recognizes that you work in the entertainment industry. A lot of stuff you're doing will fit nicely into this new format. Email me.
Bravo Gail Bellamy!
She's our executive food editor, resident doctor (Ph.D) and staff poet. And now Gail is the poet laureaute of Cleveland Heights, her hometown. The honor was bestowed just recently. We're beaming!