After two terrible dining experiences in one day, a plea for better customer service

Posted at 1:45 PM, Aug 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-30 13:58:55-04

Yesterday, I had not one, but two horrendous dining experiences. In no order, here is what happened to me:

Four different items that should have been warm were all room temp to cold

  • A 30-minute wait time after ordering- when only one or two other tables were present
  • Fries that were soggy and lumped together
  • No offer to refund my money
  • Sat over 5 minutes waiting for water
  • BOTH water glasses were dirty
  • Tasted room temperature sauvignon blanc (It was wine on tap, if that matters)
  • Wine glass was also dirty
  • The server didn't explain the menu, even though there was an extensive list of specials
  • Chopped salad wasn't chopped, more like halved

The server’s interactions were limited to: “Hello, your drink menu is on the table.” “You ready to order?” “Your food will be out shortly.” “Here's your bill.”

After sending my entree back because it was dreadfully overcooked (and the accompaniments that should have been cold were both warm), the server cut me off mid-sentence and said, “OK, do you want something else?”

I don't think I'm nit-picking here. These are big issues, but they are also pretty basic. Service fundamentals are lacking.

These experiences, by the way, happened at two ends of the spectrum – a food truck and a trendy establishment. Poor customer service can happen anywhere.

Hospitality folks, can we please stop cheating people? Can we make it our mission to ensure everyone who steps through our doors or attends one of our events has the best experience possible?

That means making sure people feel taken care of and that we (their hosts) are advocating for them.

Don't lie to or mislead guests. Basically, give people the sense that we are on their side and want them to return.

How do we do this? By taking care of the people that work for us and with us.

Treat your employees like gold so they'll, in turn, treat our guests like gold. Empower employees. Give employees the respect and and trust to take care of issues that you are confident they can handle. Learn to give up control.

These past couple weeks, I have experienced some really awful customer service. Awful customer service is learned. It comes from leadership. Stop blaming others and LEAD.

I firmly believe that customer service drastically improves when our leadership improves. Don't cut corners. TRAIN your people. INVEST in them. There is no easy way to run a business, but it becomes much more difficult if we treat our employees like they are replaceable. Moreover, if our employees feel replaceable, they will treat our guests like they are replaceable, which they most definitely are not.

Joe Hakim introduces new food and drink to us as “Joe Foodie” on He also works in a bakery and eats out A LOT.