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Per Se Fire, Reopening, Rescheduling


ellenesk
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one thing that's been overlooked in this discussion is that press releases have little effect if no one will pick them up. it's no longer my call, but if i were still editing the section i would be hesitant to run something in my newspaper about tentative opening dates until i had it straight from thomas that the date was very firm. otherwise you wind up in a game of constantly running updates correcting stories you've already run. i suspect most editors feel the same way. anyone who has ever worked with a contractor on a project of any size knows that until the thing is 80% done, any finish date they give you is, at best, wishful thinking.

this doesn't fully explain why they haven't addressed the issue on their website, but i suspect the reasoning is the same. Until you get a date certain, all you'd be doing is fanning the flames. i suspect that if they were keeping us regularly updated on the contractor's predicted finish dates, this thread would now be filled with posts about how much we hate the restaurant for leading us on. "bastards said April 15 and I planned my trip and now they say May 1!"

Sometimes, in the absence of real information, silence is the best policy ... a dangerous thought on the internet, huh?

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"treat the consumer like mushrooms - keep them in the dark and feed them a lot of shit."

Hey they stole eGullet's policy!

Well, the complete eGullet plan for "mushroom management" is: keep everyone in the dark, covered in shit... and if anyone sticks their head up, cut it off!

--

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one thing that's been overlooked in this discussion is that press releases have little effect if no one will pick them up. it's no longer my call, but if i were still editing the section i would be hesitant to run something in my newspaper about tentative opening dates until i had it straight from thomas that the date was very firm. otherwise you wind up in a game of constantly running updates correcting stories you've already run. i suspect most editors feel the same way. anyone who has ever worked with a contractor on a project of any size knows that until the thing is 80% done, any finish date they give you is, at best, wishful thinking.

this doesn't fully explain why they haven't addressed the issue on their website, but i suspect the reasoning is the same. Until you get a date certain, all you'd be doing is fanning the flames. i suspect that if they were keeping us regularly updated on the contractor's predicted finish dates, this thread would now be filled with posts about how much we hate the restaurant for leading us on. "bastards said April 15 and I planned my trip and now they say May 1!"

Sometimes, in the absence of real information, silence is the best policy ... a dangerous thought on the internet, huh?

It's not a binary choice between promising a date and remaining silent. All anybody here has asked for -- and I hardly think anyone here was hell-bent on complaining until Per Se dropped the ball -- is some basic information, which could be as simple as a statement that they don't know when they're going to reopen but they'd like to reassure those who had reservations that they'll have first crack at the book when it does open. Instead, there has been an uncoordinated release of bits and pieces of often-conflicting information. An official statement from the restaurant would be virtually cost-free and would go a long way towards restoring goodwill.

I also think it's worth mentioning that The New York Post is a print publication, not a Web site. And although some of Per Se's disgruntled customers are participating in online discussions, there are probably hundreds who are just sitting at home asking "Why the fuck didn't they call me in March like they promised, and why won't they answer the phone?" Per Se's failure to address the information vacuum is a problem beyond the scope of online media. There were, moreover, no flames to fan until Per Se clammed up and people started getting annoyed by the restaurant's non-responsiveness.

From the Post:

Keller said that because of his "great insurance" he's managed to keep his 100-plus staff together while repair work continues on the fourth floor at Time Warner Center. "So far, I haven't lost a single one," says Keller. During the lull, the employees have been taking courses to improve their service and management skills.

Again, let some of those 100 employees, who are working hard to improve their service and management skills, make some phone calls to the restaurant's in-the-dark customers.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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it was my impression that everyone with a reservation had gotten a call saying that when the restaurant was ready to reopen, they would be given a chance to reschedule. perhaps i was wrong (if not, figure roughly 4 months of reservations, at 20 tables a night, six nights a week, plus three lunches ... that would seem to be a pretty heroic effort in itself).

i'm hardly impartial. thomas is a friend and i know a little of what he is going through with all of this. more to the point, he's a guy who in all the time i've dealt with him -- friendship and before --has always held himself and the people he works with to the most rigorous standards as far as taking care of customers.

(further, granted the nypost is a print publication, technically, i think anyone would agree that it--and particularly page 6! -- operate under a slightly different set of criteria from most.)

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I think it's 16 tables and 2 months of reservations, but whatever the number it's not huge and it's not as though Per Se's 100 staff members are busy running pipes and securing sheetrock to the walls. Put 3 people on the job and you can make all those calls in a day.

Thomas Keller has a stellar reputation insofar as caring about service and his customers. Which is why I'm surprised that, after receiving a call saying I would be called back during March in order to schedule a new reservation for April, and after the reopening date got pushed back beyond April, I never received a follow-up call. And, as far as I can tell, all those who were called were told substantially similar stories to the one I was told and nobody has received a follow-up call. And even those who wish to be proactive -- by going online or calling the restaurant -- are having a difficult time getting any information.

Russ, you're friends with the guy. Maybe you'll suggest that he put something on the Web site, make a round of calls, and issue a press release. I believe all this griping will go away instantly if he just takes a few minutes to give his customers (not to mention those in the press who have championed him) a signal that he still cares about them. Then the focus can shift back to what we all really want to talk about: eating at the damn restaurant.

(edit to add last sentence)

Edited by Fat Guy (log)

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I'm sure this is not Keller's fault. With all the re-construction problems he's having, plus the major concern of re-opening the French Laundry, PR is probably the last thing on his mind.

But he's paying a PR firm big bucks for their expertise and he's not getting his money's worth. This firm has dropped the ball from the beginning (2/21) and continues its "ostritch" mentality. I agree that saying nothing in certain situations is best, ie when someone makes a ludicrous charge that should not be given any credence or further publicity. However, this is not one of those cases.

As a destination restaurant, the cancelled "reservationees" deserve more information than they have received. As a major restaurant, and one that has a goal of being the best in the city, the media should be receiving periodic updates if for nothing else than to keep "Per Se" on their minds and notepads.

Edited by rich (log)

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

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Wow thats awesome. My question is I had two reservations cancelled within the time period, but only received one call. Do people think i am going to be able to get two reservations now.

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Just received a call to reschedule my Feb. 25 reservation to a date in May. A very nice and user-friendly process.

When was your original reservation?

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Just received a call to reschedule my Feb. 25 reservation to a date in May.  A very nice and user-friendly process.

When was your original reservation?

docsconz,

Are you feeling alright today or are you just as excited as I am? :biggrin:

Robert R

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Just received a call to reschedule my Feb. 25 reservation to a date in May.  A very nice and user-friendly process.

When was your original reservation?

docsconz,

Are you feeling alright today or are you just as excited as I am? :biggrin:

I guess it helps to read the whole post! :shock::raz::raz::biggrin: and yes, I am excited!

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Just received a call to reschedule my Feb. 25 reservation to a date in May. A very nice and user-friendly process.

I'm now more convinced than ever that Per Se handled this in the most reasonable manner. I think it's terrific that they're taking care of their diners and communicating with them on a personal basis rather than through a serious of regular press releases.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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It's nice to hear they have begun to reschedule. Of the people who were called, has the staff mentioned when the re-opening date is?

I've called both the reservation number and the confirmation/cancellation number and there was no mention of the date on either.

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

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just got the call from sonya, rescheduled for may 27,originally had feb 26(i think) .... she was reasonably flexible with the dates, she called early this afternoon and then called me back when I said I need a little time to think it over, very pleasant....

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Just received a call to reschedule my Feb. 25 reservation to a date in May.  A very nice and user-friendly process.

I'm now more convinced than ever that Per Se handled this in the most reasonable manner. I think it's terrific that they're taking care of their diners and communicating with them on a personal basis rather than through a serious of regular press releases.

I think it's terrific that Per Se is now in the process of recovering from its month of customer and media relations incompetence. Now on with the business of being a restaurant.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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My question is if they open around the same time, where will Chef Keller physically be?

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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I was also rescheduled for May 23rd (our wedding anniversary as luck would have it).

I asked and she said mid-May reopening and the last date they are currently taking reservations for is June 20th

Bill Russell

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