Whatever happened to good, old-fashioned service?
By Judi Gallagher
If you’re a professional server who may take offense—click off this blog immediately, please. In the past I have received fan mail from guests and angry mail from those in the industry when it comes to my lamenting about customer service. First, let me explain that not only did I bartend my way through college, I also waited tables in my own restaurants a few days a week (as well as mopped a few floors). Back in the day (oh, my gosh, did I just sound like my grandmother), service with a smile, an apology for a mistake and an overall attempt to please was the norm. These days, however, that is not always the case. Witness what I observed this week.
I ventured into the new Pan Asia take-out restaurant on Clark Road with hopes of real Chinese—not Florida Chinese, which I do not have time to go into! Although it’s a bit unusual to serve Asian fare and gelato in the same location, the menu seemed quite promising, with Vietnamese, Chinese and Korean barbecue specialties. The menu is beautifully printed on the wall, and the place had been open a week, so I had high hopes that the order taker would actually know the menu. After a longggggggggg process of explaining what I wanted, I sat at one of the two tables to wait for my order, which consisted of four different dishes. In less than 15 minutes (quite efficient for cooked to order) I received one bag. I questioned the order taker who told me everything was in there. Of course, the better judgment came at a red light a few miles up the road when I opened the bag to find only the spare ribs and beef fried rice; the lettuce wraps and ginger broccoli (which was a struggle for the order taker to understand) were noticeably absent.
Pan Asia's menu looked promising...
When I called to report the problem, the original order taker (aka bag stuffer) not only did not apologize, he merely said “Oh.” Fortunately, I asked for the owner, who was quite nice and embarrassed; I sensed this was not the first or third phone call since opening. Will I give them another chance? You betcha! The fried rice and pork ribs were wonderful, and I can only dream of fresh lettuce wraps and ginger vegetables if they get it right next time.
Make note: The unsmiling and bored cashiers at Morton’s Market today did not exactly make me thrilled to spend the extra money to shop there. At least fake a smile, kids. And the tank-top clad order taker at the new (and less than spotless) Last American Burger joint on Bee Ridge sent me home without so much as a ketchup packet and thought of returning.
Do you have a service gripe—or plaudit? Please post below.