A Restaurant Dilemma

A Restaurant Dilemma

The maitre d’ – what should he do?

restaurant-delimaIt had been a typical frantic Friday lunch with business people celebrating end of the week. One party of four came in at 1.00. All appropriated attired in business suits, the three chaps and one female decided to kick on. They had the restaurant to themselves as we reset for dinner. All the while they continued to enjoy the bottles of red we seemed to be supplying at regular intervals to their table.

A few patrons arrived at 6.00 ready to begin their evening in what would normally be the quiet, refined atmosphere of our up market venue. On this occasion, the atmosphere was somewhat more boisterous as our lingering luncheon table proved.

After a short time, I was summoned by one of the new diners. Would I speak with the offending group as colorful language seemed to punctuate their already disruptive conversation?

As head waiter, I was reluctant. My greatest recourse was to approach them about their language. But, I figured they would move on, eventually.

I moved the dinner patrons to a table further away, but our luncheon revellers continued, barely unabated by my earlier gentle approach. I explained to the dinner party group that this crowd had been there since lunch and ordered many bottles of our best red wine.

I guess the new crowd didn’t get it. I did what I could. After all, these guys had spent money.

What would you do in my situation?

The diner – what should he do?

We had been looking forward to seeing our long standing friends to hear of their most recent holiday. We don’t get to Melbourne as frequently as we would like, so this was a special treat. Our friends chose an exclusive restaurant in the city, one that promised an atmosphere conducive to great conversation over a special meal. We had planned a long night of good company.

We entered the restaurant to be met by our hosts. Embarrassed, they informed us that this party had been very loud since they sat down. We observed two bottles of nearly spent red wine on the table, so decided to sit it out for a while and trust they would leave in due course.

Time marched on and as we found it increasingly difficult to hear our own conversation, we called the maître d’. Our host was silently contemplating leaving but we had made a booking and were looking forward to trying this restaurant.

The maitre d’ looked sheepish and clearly reticent to approach the offending table. It took him 15 mins before he spoke to the group. Only then did the maître d’ suggest we move to another table further into the restaurant. It was clear that the luncheon party took umbrage at our concern and maintained their volume throughout. They continued until we had finished our main meal, just after 8.00pm. Our evening has been spoilt. No further effort or approach was made by any member of staff. We declined dessert and didn’t leave the generous tip we traditionally leave.

Disillusioned, disappointed and rather drained, we were keen to find another venue for coffee and dessert. A short walk revealed a modest, quiet cafe where we were welcomed and treated beautifully by each staff member. Breathing sighs of relief and trying to rectify our previous experience, we relaxed and enjoyed the remainder of the evening. One of our friends felt compelled to write a post on social media about our experience at the expensive restaurant.

What would you do in our situation?

Every action has a consequence. Inaction has a consequence, also.
As a leader, you are being observed each and every moment.
Every decision, or indecision, has impact.

If our reputation is our greatest asset, here are some questions to be asked.

  • If you were the owner of this high profile establishment, what would you want your staff to do?
  • Would the lunch crowd return?
  • Would the evening diners return?
  • What could be the cost of the action, or inaction, of the maitre d?
  • In our world of social media, what may be the effect of that situation?
  • Where was reputation compromised?
  • Can the restaurant recover, with either party? If so, how?

A reputation is based on how others perceive our actions, our inactions, our every nuance.
How can you ensure your greatest reputation is your greatest asset?

Written by Jill Sweatman


+61 (0)411 11 55 99

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