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Give the lady a piece of bread

RH’s editor on the importance of service

Lisa JenningsWhen you write about restaurants, an unavoidable “perk” of the job is listening to the complaints from both friends and strangers about their experiences when dining out.

“Oh, you should write about [your restaurant name here],” they say to me. “It was so highly recommended, but…”

Or “We spent so much money there, but…”

Or “It took so long to get a table there, but…”

And they’d go on to describe some egregious (at least in their minds) lapse in service or experience that will forever be mentioned whenever that restaurant comes up in conversation.

The stories are typically a variation on the same theme, and here’s one from my own mother, who I admit has begged me for months to write about it:

She was out to a special lunch on a trip to Seattle. She ordered a large platter of fresh oysters for the table. My mother is French and in France one has a bite of bread with oysters, so she asked the server to bring some.

The server declined, saying the restaurant did not offer bread service at lunch.

Taken aback, my mother looked around the room at other customers eating sandwiches. On bread. There was clearly bread in the house.

She offered to pay for the bread. Still, the server politely declined. He brought her some rather stale crackers. She was not happy.

That experience not only tainted her opinion of that restaurant, which I won’t name, but all of the restaurants she visited in Seattle that weekend — though other meals were deemed quite a success. Now, when the trip to Seattle comes up, she tells that story about being denied bread in her time of need.

Such a simple thing. Give the lady a piece of bread.

I write this not to scold but to simply point out once again that hospitality is so often about the little things. It’s easy to get caught up in the complexities of this industry — of pricing and marketing and driving profitable traffic.

But, at the end of the day, hospitality is about making the customer happy.

Don’t let your restaurant be the one that denies my mother her piece of bread.

Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected]

Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout

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