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Chef/Owner Customer Interaction


sp1187
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My wife and I went to a restaurant this weekend that we usually go to 2-4 times a month. I ordered oysters on the half shell as an app, and prime rib with a garlic mash. The oysters weren't seperated from the shell.

The garlic mash had zero garlic flavor. The onions topping the prime rib were under cooked, in my opinion, based on how they had been served in past visits.

The Chef/Owner stopped at the table and asked "How is everything?" I told him the PR was cooked to perfection but the mash had no flavor of garlic. His reply was most people don't like a heavy garlic flavor.

I then said I didn't think the onions were completely cooked. His reply was, "Right....5 hours under the prime rib and the onions aren't cooked." .

I was a little put off with his answers, so when I got home I hit their websight and sent a private message.

I explained that in my previous visits the onions were carmalized, they weren't this time. That the garlic mash actually had some garlic flavor, and in my opinion, if people don't like garlic they probably shouldn't order the garlic mash.

I asked about the oysters, and his reply was that they serve them that way so I would know they weren't coming from a can like everywhere else I ordered them. (not true, because in my previous visits they were seperated).

Then I was told "I donate 200 meals to the needy. You should be greatful you can go out to eat. Get a life.".

I wasn't rude with my answers. I didn't ask for anything to be sent back.

I'm curious to what you Owner/Chefs think. Was I out of line for answering what he asked?

Was I out of line for emailing with further questions and comments?

respect the food, something died to provide

Lotto winner wanna-be

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I'm an eater, not a chef. This guy made the classic error of asking a question that he didn't want to hear the answer to. Too bad for him. Honest feedback is helpful esp from a repeat customer.

Assuming you were as civil as you seem, you couldn't have been out of line.

I would say that his snotty response should earn him an outing on Yelp or Trip Advisor. I'm not a fan of revenge reviews, but this creep has crossed a line of decency. Its nice that he's the owner too...innocents will be spared in this case.

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You're fine. He has issues. And anyone who can't tell the difference between a fresh raw oyster and a canned one is awfully slow. How the heck are you supposed to eat them still attached to the shell? That's just BS.

You go that often and he didn't recognize you? There is really no excuse for his behavior, but I'm guessing that he's under a lot of stress or has serious issues going on and you just happened to be someone there to lash out at.

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I wouldnt go the 'descend to his level' route. No one benefits.

Just consider not returning to the restaurant. 4x a month is a solid customer to lose.

Or if you are feeling forgiving, try the place once more, then decide if you want to go back or if the food has gone for the worst.

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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I wouldnt go the 'descend to his level' route. No one benefits.

Just consider not returning to the restaurant. 4x a month is a solid customer to lose.

Or if you are feeling forgiving, try the place once more, then decide if you want to go back or if the food has gone for the worst.

Agreed. There's no need to get into a pissing match. He was rude to you, the food was bad: don't go back.

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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Just not going isn't going to communicate much since there's a thousand reasons why a regular would stop. Instead, I'd gently tell him that you used to enjoy going but will no longer due to the interaction you had.

PS: I am a guy.

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Yes, of course let him know why, politely and privately*. He needs to know that the behavior had a cost.

* Since he's show a short pattern of hostility, perhaps by letter rather than in person.

Edited by Kouign Aman (log)

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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I'm just walking away.

Not going to post any bad reviews.

Not going to have any further contact.

The last contact was in private and polite on my part thru email.

I think his "Get a life." response sez he doesn't care if I'm a customer or not.

respect the food, something died to provide

Lotto winner wanna-be

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I think his "Get a life." response sez he doesn't care if I'm a customer or not.

Until now, your of idea of having a life was going out to enjoy his food. If that's not life enough for the chef, he doesn't want or deserve your business.

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Just not going isn't going to communicate much since there's a thousand reasons why a regular would stop. Instead, I'd gently tell him that you used to enjoy going but will no longer due to the interaction you had.

This.

The food was bad, his attitude stunk. So politely tell him you won't be coming anymore because not only did you not enjoy your meal, but his attitude was very rude and unnecessary.

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I'm just walking away.

Not going to post any bad reviews.

Not going to have any further contact.

The last contact was in private and polite on my part thru email.

I think his "Get a life." response sez he doesn't care if I'm a customer or not.

Yep. Best move. Shame it happened, though. It sounds like something I've observed in a very few places where, over time, they tend to become rather cavalier about their regulars.

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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of course I left a tip.

not the servers fault her boss is a chump.

she did her job.

respect the food, something died to provide

Lotto winner wanna-be

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Assuming he really is the owner, and not just the chef/manager, I'm with the folks that say to vote with your feet by simply not going back. I don't think you need to tell him why, either with a nice polite note, or angry outburst, or any other which way whatsoever. I don't think it's necessary. He knows why. He doesn't expect you back. He told you to "get a life." So basically, he's told you to F-off. He thinks that's the end of it and he's right and you're wrong and you're gone and he's fine with that.

It's the same thing as though your girlfriend broke up with you. She told you she doesn't care what you think and to F-off. Or your boss said the same thing. I'm not interested in your opinion. Go get a life. F-off.

Do you really need to call the next day and say, "No wait, I break up with you! I quit! Here's why! So there! Take that!"

Of course not.

For me, your only rational choices are to just leave with dignity and class.

Or go the "revenge review" route.

I don't get the point of explaining yourself further. He knows what you think. You told him. He said he didn't care. He said that you should feel lucky enough to be able to afford a meal out that the quality of that meal shouldn't matter. He told you to go get a life.

So I'd go get one that doesn't include him.

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I don't think a measured review of how the place treated you is lacking class. Its all in how you do it. I would contend that people oughta know.

Right you are. And probably the best choice.

It's the "revenge review" that, to me, can be immensely satisfying, but pretty classless. Should have made that clearer.

.

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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He is the owner.

There are bad, as well good, reviews already out there.

As I said in my original post, I was wondering what other owner/chefs opinions would be.

Not that I don't appreciate all you fellow foodies commenting. :)

@Jaymes "PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN."

one of my favorite movie quotes.

respect the food, something died to provide

Lotto winner wanna-be

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  • 4 weeks later...

As an owner, the options are aplenty. First off, I don't what level of restaurant this place aspires to be but if it's doing prime rib and the like, perhaps it's fine dining? If that is the case, then this is underscored even more.

What we do is about hospitality. It's accommodating guest desires. And while other owner/chefs many not share this sentiment fully, it is the essence of what we do. No operation is perfect and certainly that chef/owner could have been having a terrible day which led to his response. Restaurants will have their off-dishes or off-days, but does the chef/owner see the opportunity when a guest comes with criticisms?

It's difficult to hear criticisms when you're trying your best to create a great guest experience, and many of my peers absolutely HATE places like yelp and other review sites because of it. However, I see these as opportunities to expand the guest experience.

In the moment, in front of the guest, it can be difficult to maintain composure, but one must. The bottom line is that a guest is disappointed somehow with the experience and remembering that most people will say that everything was just "fine", that those who are willing to speak frankly are to be listened to and considered. A simple "I'm sorry to hear that [about your potatoes/oysters], can I bring you another round?" should suffice. Or "thank you for telling me these concerns." For the most part, people just want to be heard. They want to know you're listening to what they are saying. That what they say has some weight and validity.

Maybe it does and maybe it doesn't. The wise operator listens, acknowledges and takes those comments under consideration. It doesn't mean that things will necessarily change (or need to) due to an untold variety of factors.

Later, if you're writing to the owner/chef, or if he's responding to comments on a website and he still acts like that, then he's a complete and utter fool. Written responses, unlike in-person responses, give the owner/chef the opportunity to get over whatever anger he's feeling about the comments and craft a thoughtful and carefully written response that demonstrates to other readers the care and understanding the owner/chef has about the business and its guests.

I'd say write the review from a neutral standpoint, stating all the facts and then leave it at that. Never go back to that restaurant again. Four times per month? You now have the opportunity to try 48 new restaurants over the next year!

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The problem is that walking away from this eatery doesn't send a message, it just allows people to get away with this crap. When are we going to stop rolling over for individuals that are a**holes. Call him out on it in a public forum, take command of the issue. Stop being a pushover.

"I drink to make other people interesting".

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No reason for an attitude like that, and his response were...wow.

Oysters still attached so you can tell they didn't come out of a can...right.

Five hours under the PR doesn't mean their cooked right.

And yeah, don't order garlic mash if you don't like garlic.

Personally, I'd leave a review based on the facts of what was wrong with the meal, not return, and leave it at that. Nothing wrong with a poor review when warranted.

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