Heading back from an art installation a few weekends past my wife and I had a craving for some favored Peruvian food. Being we were close to a great restaurant we decided it was a perfect opportunity to stop in.
Over the past year, our lifestyle has changed to where we’ve incorporated a vegan diet. We’ve found many places that have vegan offerings and so we make it a priority to frequent businesses willing to undertake the challenge of modifying their menus and training to accommodate our needs.
Our dietary choice is of the equal importance of empathy to animals, environmental concerns and lastly dietary requirements. Luckily we don’t have nut allergies, gluten intolerance or milk allergies.
Our prior experiences in this restaurant had been quite memorable as we had waitresses that were also vegan and that both had a firm understanding of the ingredients that needed to be excluded in our diet. Our food was amazing and afterward, the waitresses asked us to fill out a survey card expressing our appreciation for the vegan menu items to reassure the owner of the decision to keep the various dishes on the menu. Of course, we complied.
Walking into the restaurant that beautiful fall afternoon we sat down and read through the menu which contained clear and distinct (v) and (gf) next to many dishes.
Over the past year, we have learned that we need to be responsible patrons and specify our exclusions such as no cheese or no queso, no egg, etc. Often the menu doesn’t specify certain ingredients that’ll often wind up in the dish and we recognize we need to remind the staff.
That afternoon we were as extremely detailed to our waiter as we have been in the past again specific that we were both vegan and therefore no meat, no cheese. We each had a lovely Peruvian drink as we awaited our food, hungry from the days hiking.
Out came our painfully frustrating food. My wife’s salad was doused in cheese and a white cream sauce. My meal included a creamy shredded meat substance in two of the three pieces of my trio entree topped with a sliver of hard-boiled egg.
We don’t like to make a scene and felt sympathetic to waitstaff based on the low pay and reliance on tipping to survive. Both my wife and I scraped off the offensives pieces and ate what we could. We paid our full check and left a 20% tip never to patronize the establishment again.
Harsh? Possibly however the systemic failure is real. The efforts to create a specialized menu to cater to specific dietary needs completely ignored is unconscionable.
Upper management who possibly is the owner assumably decides on what dishes the restaurant will offer. The conscious decision to attempt to list knowledge of dietary restrictions on a menu and fail miserably at following through to getting that food onto a plate and served to the consumer is dangerous. With food allergies on the rise and mistakes by the inclusion of ingredients potentially life-threatening why should I risk returning to this restaurant.
Mentioning the scenario to a friend I learned that they also had the same experiences. This is disheartening that a service-based business refuses to get it right. Am I extreme? Not really I’m just cautious.
Van Halen and Brown M&M’s
Back in the 1980’s arena rock was huge with Rock and Roll acts filling arenas and stadiums on huge often sold-out tours. Bands like Van Halen headed up by David Lee Roth a spectacular showman know to preform karate like stunts and often fly over the crowd suspending from overhead cabling.
Van Halen was an experienced roadworthy band and Diamond Dave Roth’s uncle was the owner of the famous Greenwich Village club Cafe Wah? Enter the Van Halen tour rider weighing in at over 50 pages included the legendary request for backstage M&M’s with a caveat of no brown M&M’s in the dressing room.
Once the bands’ management arrived at a venue they would verify if the M&M’s had been included and excluded the forbidden brown M&M’s. Eccentric? Hardly. It was a test to verify the promoter had read and was detailed oriented enough to follow the riders requests. So what if there were brown M&M’s? The band and management would request a detailed safety inspection of the stage and rigging.
The fish is stinky from the head.
Good customer services involve the entire staff.
If you have a broken part in a machine, it probably won’t run. And Ecosystems with a competent out of balance could upset the sustainability of the environment.
So why is a failure of the waitstaff a systemic failure? What exactly is the job requirement? To take a customer’s order, whatever that might entail and ensure it’s prepared and served accordingly. That’s it.
Modern restaurants have bus staff, runners, computerized cash registers. The job requirement is relatively low. Know your product and follow your customers’ requests. That’s it. Simple.
So why the issues? Lack of proper training and desire to care.
A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. One link breaks and you have a catastrophic failure. If there’s cheese in my dish or brown M&M’s backstage what other corners are being cut?