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Dining al fresco with dog- rain starts!


brescd01
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I, for one, don't want to be seated in a dining room with a (potentially wet or dry) dog. 

:huh: oh dear, I hope, foryour sake, that you never want to eat at a 3 michelin star resto in Paris!

Brescd01 - been there, done that, in our case, the owner/manager comandeered one of his staff to stay with our dog, under the awning, safe and dry, while we went inside and ate our dinner within view - huge brownie points!

.

Edited by sandra (log)

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I'm just curious, suppose the owner says "you know what guys, bring the puppy in until the storm ends". Everybody is warm and dry. All of the customers seem fine with the situation. Maybe they've all given their official "it's fine with me" when asked. Then the one (or more) who really wasn't at all happy about it but didn't want to be in the spotlight as the only mean person in the crowd decides the best way to ease their unhappiness is to report it and spread the word. Ok, I've made two nice people from the neighborhood happy so now I guess I'll weigh that against the damage done by the other person/people and see which tips the scale the most. I guess I just don't understand the whole "I'm going to punish you for following the rules and respecting the rights of other people" thing. And where does the line get drawn if there's going to be an outside-the-rules line to play by? I used to keep reptiles when I was younger. Suppose I was sitting there with my 3' savannah monitor lizard on a leash when the storm hit and wanted to bring it inside for a bit.

Edited by heidih (log)

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Boy, I sure do want to go to Meme, wherever the heck it is. If e'er I get to Philly, I'm heading there.

I know it sounds like I'm being attitudinal, and to a degree I am, but I have almost *zero* sympathy for the original poster. If I hated dogs (which I don't, I *love* dogs), I would have absolutely zero sympathy for them.

Why must the restaurant owner be responsible to correct a problem that's so blatantly brought on by a client who is doing something very risky/irresponsible, and lost out as a result? To me, about the only thing that could have been done, and even *this* is wrong, is offering the food in carry-out form, just to be done with it/rid of the client. Sort of a "Here'syourhatWhat'syourhurry?" shoving out the door-type behavior.

Why? Why is it wrong to even do that much?

Because the restaurant loses no matter *what*. If they accomodate this instance, I can guaran-stinking-tee you that word will get around that Meme is a "pet-friendly" establishment, and you'll have everybody and their brother with a dog coming in to dine at the patio, leading to dozens more of this *exact* same situation, as well as dogs barking at each other, moving around, disturbing other patrons and staff, begging for scraps, etc. It may not even be the original poster who spreads the word...other patrons will see what happens, and the floodgates have opened, never to be shut again, until the Board of Health comes through.

If the restaurant doesn't accomodate the dog-wielding clients, the owner's seen as cruel, or uncompromising, or ill-mannered, or what-have-you...by two clients WHO DARNED WELL KNOW BETTER. The rest of the patrons, while probably at least a bit sympathetic, are certainly relieved that the restaurant isn't becoming what these two particular clients are intending to make it: pet-friendly. Food service and preparation do not mix with pets. Leader dogs or the like are permitted simply because the people who utilize them can't be without them. Again, though, the establishments are following the law by allowing this exception to the law...and thankfully it's a very narrowly-construed exception.

I realize that you're not going back, as you feel *something* could have been done, and I agree: something should have been done by the people responsible for the predicament, in this case, the clients. I, for one, am grateful to the establishment for sticking to their guns on this one. You obviously love your pup, and I'm very happy for the three of you...I'd probably want to stop and ask about him/her, and see if it was friendly.

However, in this circumstance, you took a bad risk, it backfired, and the restaurant itself should be applauded for not acquiescing to you. I hardly believe that if they'd put your food in carry-out containers, that suddenly you'd think the place was puddle-wonderful, and that you'd tell everyone and their brother about it.

I'm sorry that you don't appreciate what they did, because I certainly do. Please, leave Fido at home. He'll...somehow...SURVIVE!

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I accept the will of eGullet, but I think the owner could have done a 100 gracious things,

Like what?

You put the guy in a situation where ANYTHING he did could very well have upset you or someone else there. You chose to bring the dog. At least this way, he did not violate the law and did not upset any other customers who did nothing to create the situation and were just minding their own business eating dinner. Honestly, I do understand the idea Holly Moore is puttiing forth along the going the extra mile lines but it really seems kind of nonsmart to break in on other diners' time and ask them about you and your dog. That's a crashing bore in my opinion and, depending on the other diners' circumstances, could be seen as a real imposition.

By the way: dog lover here; often seek out places to dine with my dogs. I've also seen people cross the street to avoid my Boston terrier. Strange as it may seem, some people really, really want to dine dog-free.

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Wow, I was not aware that going for a walk with my wife and dog in my own neighborhood after a very hard day's work was "risky" behavior! We were not aware that there was an impending storm. Also, we do not go everywhere with our dog, on the contrary. But there are numerous restaurants with outdoor seating that benefit from dog-owners seeking places they can dine with their dogs. And the restaurants happily take their money. The couple next to us, who was brought inside, brought their baby in baby carriage, by the way, another "thing" some people don't like at dinner.

There are sillier reasons not to go to one restaurant or the other, that is why the restaurant business is so tough. I am not sure why my not having enjoyed my experience is not as good a reason as any not to return. I have probably boosted the business of this restaurant because people will queue up there to show their support to the couragious owner who stood up to us and did...nothing.

Edited by brescd01 (log)
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Not to mention the fact that in some areas, a health inspector can simply close a place down for a day, a week or until they are available to have a second inspection added to their calendar. There's nothing like having 'closed by County Health Department until further notice' signs on your front door to scare off business for years to come.

A very good point. A closed restaurant is providing exactly zero stars worth of service. In the area where the restaurant where I work is located, it definitely could and most probably would happen. All it would take would be a competing restaurant owner dining in the same dining room (even on a slow Monday), realizing how much he'd be able to benefit from our very busy restaurant being shut down, even temporarily, by the Health Department, and that call would most definitely happen.

Edited to add: Actually, I can imagine some of our competitors even voting, "Yes, let the dog into the dining room." And then calling the Health Department. Places around here are really hurting, and given that our restaurant goes on a wait every single meal period, it would be a tremendous boon for all of them if we were shut down for even one day.

Edited by TheFoodTutor (log)
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Honestly, I do understand the idea Holly Moore is puttiing forth along the going the extra mile lines but it really seems kind of nonsmart to break in on other diners' time and ask them about you and your dog. That's a crashing bore in my opinion and, depending on the other diners' circumstances, could be seen as a real imposition.

Yeah, I understand and agree with the impulse to go the extra mile in providing service. The manager should have made some suggestions to make his patrons more comfortable. (And in turn, it's the patrons' job to speak up and politely ask for what will make them more comfortable. Sitting there passively doesn't help anybody.)

Still, asking the other patrons to take a vote would be the worst possible solution to the problem. Interrupting their meal is rude. Worse still is putting them in the uncomfortable position of deciding the fate of other diners. Nobody- even dog-haters- wants to be the asshole who doesn't let Fido and his owners into the restaurant. It's the manager's job to make decisions, and take the heat for those decisions.

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so, if a patron decides to bring his or her pet to a restaurant, where clearly pets are not allowed inside, and an unforeseen event (storm) occurs, i don't see how it becomes the restaurant owner's fault, which is how this is reading to me.

sure, the restaurant owner could make a gracious gesture, but it seems as though that's being close to demanded here, and i just don't get that. the restaurant owner may have had all manner of other issues to deal with, vis a vis the sudden storm (reservation cancellations, etc.).

the dog owners have their dog to deal with. that's their responsibility. they chose to bring the dog. it rained. seems like it's nobody's fault. but certainly not the restaurant owner's responsibility. how does offering to pay to dryclean a suit even come into this equation? seriously. someone made a choice to bring their dog. it rained. now the restaurant gets slammed for poor customer service? i don't get that.

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Wow, I was not aware that going for a walk with my wife and dog in my own neighborhood after a very hard day's work was "risky" behavior! We were not aware that there was an impending storm. Also, we do not go everywhere with our dog, on the contrary. But there are numerous restaurants with outdoor seating that benefit from dog-owners seeking places they can dine with their dogs. And the restaurants happily take their money. The couple next to us, who was brought inside, brought their baby in baby carriage, by the way, another "thing" some people don't like at dinner.

There are sillier reasons not to go to one restaurant or the other, that is why the restaurant business is so tough. I am not sure why my not having enjoyed my experience is not as good a reason as any not to return. I have probably boosted the business of this restaurant because people will queue up there to show their support to the couragious owner who stood up to us and did...nothing.

Nobody has suggested that you should have liked it, but many are stating that the restaurant is not blameworthy here and we don't even have their side of the story. I believe that there is a bit of a difference between a baby coming inside under those circumstances (or any other - as annoying as it sometimes can be to other patrons, a baby in a restaurant is not a health code violation) - and a dog. Clearly, you did not choose to be in that situation, but neither did the restaurant. It was simply your misfortune, for which they were clearly unprepared to accommodate. Did you ask to change your meal to take-out?

One thing you did do, is name the restaurant, which is unnecessary for the purposes of this discussion and smacks of an attempt at retribution, which is unseemly, perhaps generating the irritated tone of a number of responses and lack of sympathy for your situation. Sorry, but you asked. :blink:

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The couple next to us, who was brought inside, brought their baby in baby carriage, by the way, another "thing" some people don't like at dinner.

Even my dog-loving hubby, treasurer of our state bar's animal law section, would be offended at the equation of human children with animals. Dogs are prohibited by the health code. It is patently selfish to expect an establishment required by law to follow certain rules to make an exception for you, regardless of the weather. It's not really about customer service at all.

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The couple next to us, who was brought inside, brought their baby in baby carriage, by the way, another "thing" some people don't like at dinner.

Seriously?!?!?! This is what this discussion has come to? If you wanted your food to go, you should have asked for it. Nobody's a mnd reader. I've been curiously following this thread, but now I'm done.

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There are sillier reasons not to go to one restaurant or the other

Yes, there are. If that's all you were looking for then you didn't need our opinion. Just don't go. I agree with docsconz that there was absolutely no reason to name the business other than to try to ease your unhappiness about the situation by drumming up support for your boycott.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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The couple next to us, who was brought inside, brought their baby in baby carriage, by the way, another "thing" some people don't like at dinner.

Seriously?!?!?! This is what this discussion has come to? If you wanted your food to go, you should have asked for it. Nobody's a mnd reader. I've been curiously following this thread, but now I'm done.

Ditto.

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First my assumptions on the situation:

1. It was pouring. Not raining, but pouring. Really pouring. "Not a fit night out for man or beast."

2. A neighborhood restaurant's Monday night clientele is more casual and laid-back than the same restaurant would attract on weekends.

3. Only a few tables were occupied. In the midst of the downpour, especially on a Monday night, the tables would not be filling up.

4. The dog and its owners were well behaved and house broken.

5. The restaurant owner did not talk directly with the couple in question about their problem.

6. The host had sufficient savvy to sense the sincerity of a guest's reply to a question.

------------

Voting:

I wasn't suggesting a dining room announcement requesting a show of hands. Rather I envisioned the host, having mustered his tact and charm, explaining the situation and his thoughts to the guests at each table. (Personally I would not object to being asked. I would welcome this sort of interruption far more than the robotic and inevitable question, "How is everything?")

If the table's guests smile and say something to the effect, "Of course, that makes sense," consider that a positive response. If a table's guests catch each other's eye and stammer, "I guess that would be ok," consider that a negative response. It is pretty easy for someone used to dealing with customers to know when someone is just being polite.

A single negative response keeps the dog out of the dining room and the host has to come up with a different solution. I suggested one earlier - leash the dog in the storeroom with a pie tin of water for the 20 or 30 minutes that the rain was really coming down. No one would know. In any event it is the restaurant's responsibility to try to alleviate the situation.

---------

"Rules are rules and must be obeyed. The Health Department will publicly shame the restaurant and maybe even shut it down."

The odds hugely favor a one time act-of-kindness/health-code-violation never making it to the Health Department. If it did, and if the health department considered the incident sufficiently serious to investigate, the likely response would be an inspector dropping by, asking about the incident, and telling the restaurant owner not to let it happen again. (Add an exaggerated wink at the end of the admonition if the inspector happens to be a dog owner.)

---------

For me it all comes back to hospitality - a restaurant customer is a "guest." The restaurant owner needs to go out of his way help a "guest" around a problem being experienced in his restaurant.

In a situation such as the one being discussed, the problem is obvious. The customer should not have to ask. The owner knew. He was alerted by the server. He was obligated to help his guests.

Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

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He was obligated to help his guests.

Why is the restaurant industry pretty much the only place where people feel entitled to much more than what they are paying for? I'm not saying nobody appreciates a business going beyond what is required in other areas but nobody becomes hyper-offended and spreads the word on the evils of the business if they don't get it. Nobody expects their local grocery store to valet their car if a rain downpour starts while shopping. If they don't have time to wait, they will suck it up and make a dash for the car. The next time they need groceries they will go to that store again without telling everybody that the store sucks for not making someone get their car for them or not holding an umbrella over them while they loaded their groceries.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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It is not that the customer feels entitled to more than he is paying for. It is that a savvy business person in any business knows that going out of the way to help a customer - be it a salesman running to the warehouse after hours and getting a copy center a couple of boxes of paper or a boutique owner finding a special pair of shoes for a customer or Ritz Carlton's legendary emphasis on service - develops repeat business and customer loyalty.

That grocery store might send a clerk with an umbrella to help the customer.

Edited by Holly Moore (log)

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I agree with you completely that people appreciate it and may even show loyalty when they get it no matter what type of business it happens to be. What puzzles me is that, outside of the restaurant arena, very few people actively campaign against a business for not going that extra mile above and beyond what the money is paying for. If the customer gets that box of paper after hours, they'll be happy and potentially loyal. If that customer couldn't get that box of paper after hours the customer would think "dammit, why didn't I do this earlier" not "why won't they step away from their dinner and run over here to do what I want, I'm going to tell the world that they suck".

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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I wasn't suggesting a dining room announcement requesting a show of hands.  Rather I envisioned the host, having mustered his tact and charm, explaining the situation and his thoughts to the guests at each table.  (Personally I would not object to being asked.  I would welcome this sort of interruption far more than the robotic and inevitable question, "How is everything?")

Personally, you would not object to being asked. A lot of people would. The host does not know what's going on in the lives of each guest and it is a hell of an assumption to think that they wouldn't mind having their meal interrupted to hear his/her "thoughts" on something like this.

The other thing is, when you (hypothetical "you" this time) are asking for unusual service, it's not just you and the host. It's you and the other customers. It is one thing for a host/manager/whatever simply to put forth extra effort on your behalf. But there are times when granting your request has an impact on the other guests. At that point, the host has to weigh it. It's not a simple case of "It would have cost him nothing to make a little effort." You are expecting him to ask something of the other customers.

This is all kind of superfluous anyway, since he couldn't reasonably have been expected to violate the code and was not asked to do anything else.

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If the customer gets that box of paper after hours, they'll be happy and potentially loyal. If that customer couldn't get that box of paper after hours the customer would think "dammit, why didn't I do this earlier" not "why won't they step away from their dinner and run over here to do what I want, I'm going to tell the world that they suck".

Actually, as a copy center owner (and I was) I would be upset if my paper salesman did not at least try to come up with a way to help me out in an emergency. As a result I would probably take the time to have a friendly chat with the next paper salesman that walked through my door.

Edited to add the quote

Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

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You're comparing a business scenario to a pleasure scenario. Nobody's bottom line is depending on the restaurant they're eating at going above and beyond with service.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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I wasn't suggesting a dining room announcement requesting a show of hands.  Rather I envisioned the host, having mustered his tact and charm, explaining the situation and his thoughts to the guests at each table.  (Personally I would not object to being asked.  I would welcome this sort of interruption far more than the robotic and inevitable question, "How is everything?")

though I find the issue interesting, I won't comment on the larger debate because it seems to already been done to death upthread. However, on the issue of voting -- Holly, yes, your approach is very reasonable. Consider if the diners were polled and unanimously voted to allow the dog and owners in. Then more customers showed up, saw a dog in the restaurant, and turned on their heels and left. (Yes, I understand that the dog being inside would only be for the duration of the worst of the storm.) Management gets no chance to poll these would-be customers.

there is the choice to provide extra service to guests, but I don't think it makes sense to do so at the sacrifice of _basic_ service to other guests (those who might not want dogs in the dining room). When comparing the desires of guests -- I think the ones who are hoping to have a rule-sanctioned dog-free meal are more reasonable than those who are hoping to keep themselves and their dog dry. That's not a rules-are-rules comment, nor is it an implication that the dog owners are totally unreasonable.

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My guess is that if the additional customers had fought their way through the downpour we had Monday night, they would have opted to stick around, til the rain eased off. When the rain eased off the dog was going back on the sidewalk, so the customers likely would have stayed. Happy endings all around.

My expectations in this one-time situation are simple - that the restaurant owner would go out of his way to help the couple and that the restaurant's few other guests would not be so stiff-assed as to object to a couple and their dog finding shelter inside until a thunderstorm eases off.

What got me started on this thread in the first place is that I can not imagine a restaurant owner (ie someone in the service and hospitality industry) watching a table of his guests outside getting drenched while eating his food and not being driven to find a way to help them.

Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

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I think people are right the restaurant owner did nothing wrong. Nevertheless he lost a customer. Because my decision where to eat is not a moral one. I can eat where I choose. And I choose to eat where I am treated well.

Fair enough but you asked for our opinions so you had to know there was a risk that not all of them would support your position on the matter. If you'd already decided on the matter and nothing was going to change the way you view it and you had no motive to smear the name of the business then I'm not sure what the whole point of this was in the first place.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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I think people are right the restaurant owner did nothing wrong. Nevertheless he lost a customer. Because my decision where to eat is not a moral one. I can eat where I choose. And I choose to eat where I am treated well.

Fair enough but you asked for our opinions so you had to know there was a risk that not all of them would support your position on the matter. If you'd already decided on the matter and nothing was going to change the way you view it and you had no motive to smear the name of the business then I'm not sure what the whole point of this was in the first place.

This. I happen to think that you were treated decently. You put the restaurant in the predicament. You. Not "their policies". Not "the Board of Health". Not "the jerk owner". You did. You state at the outset that you were "determined to take my wife out". I take that to mean that you were determined to take her out to eat at a restaurant. You are aware, I'm sure, that animals are not allowed in eating establishments unless they're disability-warranted. Then you go on to say, "The weather seemed so nice we brought our dog as well and walked in the direction of Meme."

And there you have it. Forget the weather, and whatever happened with the weather. *You* chose this entire course of action, not them. You know what might happen, and because it actually happened as a result of your actions, you want the restaurant to solve your problem for you.

You named the place. You *called them out*. For the most part here, you've been called incorrect for calling the service of the restaurant into question because of a bad decision you yourself made.

They lost a customer, but kept a bunch of other good, respectable, relatively unselfish people as customers, and more importantly, they did the right thing. I doubt you can defend what you did/have done here in the same way.

BTW: just for fun, I find babies/loud small children to be far more hate-inducing than just about any dog would be, but then again: where's the line? If you bring your pit bull, and it misbehaves, what then?

Your original post reeks of trying to smear Meme, and it backfired, no matter how you spin it now.

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1. It is a grievous Health Department violation to bring the dog into the dining room of the restaurant. Period. No rain, no spinning it differently, no anything. You might as well have asked the chef or the waiter to defecate and not wash his hands all in plain sight. They could be fined, shut down, etc. and as was mentioned upthread those reports are available online, as well as having that lovely notice posted on the door turning away/scaring off business indefinitely. It is absolutely not in their best interest to let the dog in the restaurant. Even for a minute.

2. Another customer could be seriously allergic to the dog, even if the restaurant was trying to be nice. Do you want to be responsible for setting off an asthma attack or fit of anaphylactic shock? Really?

3. Waiter isn't clairvoyant. If you want your stuff packed to go then just say so.

4. How busy the restaurant is that night is completely irrelevant to items 1-3. Even if the dining room was completely empty with tumbleweeds rolling through it, they can not let the dog inside. Another customer could show up and report them to the Health Department. Should they lose their business (possibly for good) because you got unlucky and it rained on you/your dog?

At any point did anyone consider tying up the dog outside under the awning and moving dinner indoors for the human members of the party? Why was this not an option?

Yeah - this is all quite unfortunate, but not the restaurant's responsibility to "make up" to the guest. There has been no slight here, either real or imagined. The guest chose to bring their dog to a restaurant where they would clearly have to sit outside. If the weather turned on them it sucks, but is not the restaurant's responsibility, anymore so than if I brought an elderly relative who got tired or cranky or ill and had to be taken home (and they're allowed to be inside!). The proper response from the guest is "Check please!!"...

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