Wednesday, 15 October 2008

The good, the bad and the ugly

You know how Rita likes to balance a negative with a positive? Well I have 2 stories tonight – one of each.

The first involves an example of really uncomfortable customer service which I observed in a local restaurant, and it pissed me off because it was so unnecessary. A female customer walked into the restaurant and seated herself at a vacant table for 2. The owner walked across to the table. She pleasantly asked if it would be OK to have lunch for one person. He replied that they had reservations, to which she immediately went into apologetic mode and asked should she move tables. He brusquely replied that it would be fine, went off and returned with a menu which he gave her, and left her to it. She perused the menu for a few minutes then got up and left.

Now Rita was merely an observer of this scene, but felt extremely angry on a few fronts. Firstly, in this time of economic belt-tightening, I reckon you are an extremely foolish business owner if you don’t do your utmost to get and retain customers – both new and repeat. Here was a ‘live’ one – all primed and ready to spend money in your establishment, and what do you do? You treat her with no respect, no genuine courtesy. OK, so you weren’t overtly rude or insulting. But the way you handled that situation was totally unnecessary and rude. It was the unspoken body language that told a whole different story. Secondly, you made her feel stupid. That was handled really badly, and I lost a lot of respect for you and your restaurant.

BTW – that table was never filled at all over the lunch period – so that table (and the three others around it) actually wasn’t booked at all.

My second story is a joyous one. I have found a souvlaki bar that actually serves food that is made with love and care, and with great ingredients by a bloke who CARES! It’s Europa in Sandy Bay Road, right next door to Mykonos. Their food is fresh and tasty. Their roasted chicken pieces are Nicholls free range chooks. Their Seafood Souvlaki ($8) is all genuine and tasty seafood, not seafood extender. Their Lamb Shanks are slow cooked in a beautiful tomato concasse and flavoured with specially imported Greek peppercorns which have a flavour that is a combined pepper and cinnamon taste. Their Lamb Souvlakis are actually made with real lamb, spit roasted, not that sausage meat concoction that other kebab places seem to use.

I will add Europa to my Cheap Eats section. Good one Europa.
Posted on by Rita


Miles McClagan said...

Lousy damn customers, how dare they demand service and food! Still, that owner has a career for him working at Boost Juice if he ever wants it, sounds like he'd fit right in!

sir grumpy said...

Didn't I mention Europa to you, Rita. Oh, no I think I only mentioned Mykonos.
Mind you, I did get one or three chips (yes frenchie fries) in my souvlaki there!
Otherwise it was great. Hold the fries there, people, that's a London thing.
Mykonos uses real lamb too, mind you.

Anonymous said...

Sir Grumpy - you can't be serious and we all know that you probably already know this. I've never had a "gyros pita" anywhere in Greece that doesn't have fries with it.Good on you boys at Mykonos for sticking to a true greek tradition - which it is, not a London one.

Anonymous said...

there's nothing quite like an octopus gyros in Santorini with fries on the top!


Anonymous said...

It is amazing how many places deal with people dining on their own poorly. On a recent holiday on the big island, I ate out regularly on my own in some pretty well known restaurants.

I think single diners make restaurants (even half empty ones) uncomfortable for some reason. In the course of one week, I was either given extremely over the top service and practically not left alone for a moment, rushed through the courses without time to draw breath in between, seated "at the bar" rather than at one of the many empty tables or ignored all together.

Other diners sometimes also seem to find it uncomfortable and feel the need to strike up conversation.

I love my food and the whole dining experience - and often dine out on my own. I find it a shame that so few places get it right.

Anonymous said...

Some restaurant owners really do have ATTITUDE.Doesn't make those of us who care very proud. On another note, read your comments on MB -What's happening at Coal River these days? - used to be one of my favourite places to visit but seem to not be open so often these days.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Ms falconer has 'walked-oot' on yet another place?

Forde Montgomery said...

This is why whenever I have to eat alone (work, travel, gf dumped me) I always go to a place that has at least one communal table. Though I've got a friend who recommends taking a note pad and speaking in a slight accent so the staff think you are doing a review.

sir grumpy said...

No, I didn't know about the Souvlaki and chips thing. But inside the pitta? It's gross.
And it was from Europa, which is otherwise great.
The Greeks probably started putting chips in their souvlaki to appease the millions of Poms on holiday there or escaping the gloom of Britain.
Make souvlakis chip free, I say.

Anonymous said...

I dont agree with people walking in and just seating them selfs. Then getting crappy with waitstaff for not having already given them water or menus. When in most places you should wait at the counter and ask for a table to be seated at. That way menus and water are given to you right away.

A few things to note, if you seat your self, yes the table might be booked esp if a window. I have even had a few times people walk in sit them selfs down. Then people who booked that table esp walk in 30 seconds later and are then annoyed because someone is sitting on the table they booked.Or the other way round you tell the person who just sat down the table is booked and they say "Well cant you just kick who ever booked it off this table" .

The wait staff might not have seen you walk in(if they are really busy). So please dont give the evil eye and be rude to staff if you have just walked in and sat your self down.

In the case of the owner being grumpy he should have noted that she was sorry and looked after her well.

But if someone is in by them selfs I always try and be extra nice and tell them that I can get them a paper of a magazine to read if they want.

love and peace :)

sir grumpy said...

We are all Alone, essentially. Scary, innit?
Hate and war.

Anonymous said...

Does Europa still do char-grilled octopus? I remember it as being to die for - how is it that we forget about these places. Thanks Rita for reminding us about it.

Rita said...

Thanks all for your comments. I agree with Anon 11.14 - restaurants DO deal poorly with people dining on their own.
Anon 12.46 - don't know what's happening at Coal River - haven't heard anyhting about them for ages, and not sure whether Claire Falconer is still there or not.
Anon 6.03 - thanks for your insightful comments. It's nice that you make the offer to get them a magazine or paper.
Yes, Sir G, when push comes to shove we really are all alone.
Anon 10.19 - yes, I did see octopus at Europa. I love it, so will be returning to Europa for more of the same.

Tassiegal said...

hmmm Europa is a nice walk from Uni.....I see a long lunch in my future if I EVER get home....

Anonymous said...

Coal Valley supposedly re opening in November. Probably can't get anyone to work there. Not so great on staff treatment.

Christina said...

On your recommendations Rita and Sir G, I had lamb souvlaki from Europa for lunch yesterday and it was great. Very impressive for $6. Chock full off lamb right to the end. And Sir G, not a chip in sight!

Rita said...

Anon 11.55 - Coal River had the Open sign outside when I drove past last Monday as I went to Meadowbank, so they must be open now.
Christina - great you went along there and had scrummy souvlaki. I now feel the need to confess that I myself haven't tasted one from there - but on your say-so will make it a priority! I spoke to the guy there about his food, and how he makes it, and what ingredients he uses etc, but didn't have one!

sir grumpy' said...

My missus prefers Mykonos, so as she is the one getting out the car to go for it, I takes what I gets.
We went Saturday and she chose Mykonos again, even though I said let's try Europa again.
What a woman.

Anonymous said...

Europa must be cheaper eh Sir G?

sir grumpy said...

Pray, tell, anon, what have I done or said to offend you?