Thursday, November 11, 2010

Has true hospitality been toasted?

I am WAY behind on my updates on this and I have A LOT to share with you all. We have had a ton of things going on to make this transition of our lives happen. We have purchased the RV (The one below that I posted the pictures of on here a few months ago.) and have been living on the road fulltime for the past few weeks and it's great! We are super happy and very excited to get to our next stop. I will certainly get back to that in a bit. But, I wanted to touch on the subject of Hospitality in the food/coffee/wine industry. We eat out quite a bit and tend to tip big and rack up a pretty good size bill. Between the two of us for dinner and drinks our average tab is around $70 to $80. Also, I would consider myself a patient person and sure most of you that know me would agree…almost to a fault. When we go out to eat we don't expect the staff to welcome us with a hug and jump up and down with excitement or anything. However, we have noticed that with the food, restaurant/coffee shop "trend" there are a lot of places popping up that have very cool creative local organic concepts and I am all about supporting in them with my money. But I will tell you what, I don't care if you have the BEST food or coffee on the planet, if your service isn't good and your staff is not at least somewhat friendly enough to act like they enjoy their job on some level. We will never return. I would rather have good service with mediocre food any day of the week, than great food served by people that think they are too cool to be courteous and pleasant. I hate to sound like and ageist but honestly I find it with younger 20 to 30ish folks. Maybe they grew up with so much technology based interactions, that they didn't develop adequate social skills or something I don't know. I don't find that I experience this as often (but have) at established "fine dining" places such as Wildwood, Lincoln, Pazzo or Nostrana. Typically, and unfortunately it is a places that are great conceptually that I would honestly like to support and help succeed. Toast in SE Portland one of these places for example. I have tried it twice, hoping that the first time I just had pulled a bad card. Super cute place, great menu concept, and pretty good food (not great) but the service, is super-duper lame. I also seem to experience this same service in several coffee shops around town. There almost seems to be a cocky, quiet, reserved, arrogance that goes with it (Particularly in the Hawthorne/Alberta / Mississippi District). It seems like that crowd that is like…"I'm so cool in my grungy, artsy, alternativeness that I don't need to have manors or any kind of customer service etiquette". Again, I'm just saying… smile and say hello with some eye contact and be polite. Don't act like the customers are an inconvenience and your time is so damn precious. I don't know, maybe I'm just getting old or becoming a snob. I hate to just pick on one place I have experienced in several places in Portland, Seattle and Bend. It seems to be happening a lot more often and my fear is that I will have to spend $80 for dinner every time we go out to get decent service. I was just curious of what your thoughts are on this and what you have experienced out there. I don't want to turn this blog on a negative note, but I have heard it from other people too. I would especially like to hear from my friends in the industry.
Thanks all,


  1. Unfortunately, I have to agree with you. I suppose the best way to rebel is not to tip. See if that gets their attention! I will not tip well if the service is bad. Sometimes I will not tip at all. If I'm in the mood I'll tell the manager about my experience. I too am pretty patient and will mostly give a place at least 2 tries. It is a very unfortunate trend indeed.
    Annie G

  2. "Service" Industry ?
    We constantly are dealing with this issue too Becky (& Chris). Of course Erica is much more leanient than me, but because I've worked & basically lived the life of a server/manager of servers for 15years, I have an informed/personal opinion about this topic.
    I feel it's really not that tough to be present, attentive and curteous to people. I'm just not sure why servers don't do it more often?? And being genuine, happy and appreciative is basically nonexistant these days... and I miss it!

    Trust me- from the server's point of view, we act as a middle (wo)man most of the time. It's a talent and it that takes a careful eye, and a codependent type of attention. But if you aren't that person please, for the love of god and my hard earned money, get out of the industry! Please find another job where multitasking and quality service/interaction isn't that important.

    Ironically, I also know that sometimes as a server, there will be times you bend over backwards and get a very little or even zero compensation for your efforts. But what most servers don't understand/remember is that their "job" is to entertain and care for the dining patrons. At times, it's unfortunate that the reprecutions are demoralizing... BUT, as a server, it's also your job to continue on and not take it personally---Either you can laugh it off, or bitch about it later to others, but the show must go on. You have a job, and be thankful for that :)

    Becky, I 100% appreciate what you're saying and I wish there were better standards for the service industry. I wish there was more support for our servers. I wish the pay was higher so there would be better quality people. And I wished insurance was provided for everyone in the industry (paticularly therapy :) but it's not.
    Bascially anyone can get a job serving.
    And it's too bad.
    And it shows.