Factors and Variables - The Slippery Slope of a Bad Guest Experience
It took me three tries to pass college Algebra… but I did it. Since owning Geppetto’s I have dealt with more factors and variables than I ever did in a math class.
I ask a server as he flies by… “Need Anything?”
“Yes please, he quickly replies, Dr. Pepper to 27.”
I bring Dr. Pepper to 27 only to find it was intended for 32. At 32 I find they also wanted a refill on Coke. I returned to the table with the Coke and I notice the woman looking strangely at me.
“Everything okay?” I asked.
“Well, no.” She said, while smiling. “As a matter of fact… this has become one of our favorite places for Italian. And tonight it’s just not the same. Everything is terrible. Did you get a new cook or something?”
Whenever I hear that… I know, deep down, EVERYTHING can’t possibly be terrible. I know there must be more to the story.
“Please, tell me what you mean by EVERYTHING is terrible? What happened here tonight?”
“Well, she said, I didn’t want to say anything but it’s just not as good as it was the last time we were here. The marinara isn’t right. It tastes like nothing. Like it’s watery. It has NO flavor. It tastes like NOTHING.”
I then noticed she has hardly touched her lasagna. Lasagna has nothing to do with the marinara. I thought to myself… she just isn’t happy. Something more was at play and I was determined to get to the bottom of it.
I excuse myself to taste the sauce. It tasted just like our marinara. In my opinion… delicious. The only thing I could think was that maybe the pasta was not drained properly before plating which would add water to the sauce. Was the cook moving too fast? When he cooked off the pasta… did he remember to add a dash of salt to the water?
Wanting more information I asked the server, “What’s up with 32?”
“Well… he said… they started out with (the other server)… then I took over. She wanted her mozzarella bread the same time as her entree. Her entree wasn’t ready so the mozzarella bread sat and was cold when I brought it to the table. She was not happy.”
Timing between two separate kitchens takes some getting used to. As a server you need to know how to communicate with both kitchens in order to ensure the best possible guest experience. Asking that an appetizer be delivered at the same time as an entree… is… believe it or not… a complicating factor… not impossible… but like a next level, improved gamer move. Perhaps a task a new server hasn’t had to complete… yet.
Side note: We’re doing what we have to do in light of staffing issues. It seems… only in COVID season… is it possible to have a bigger Monday than a Thursday. So much… impossible to predict. Never ending variables! We did not expect that night to be busy. Note to self: If you can avoid it… never schedule two new servers in the same shift.
The couple didn’t want me to but I took care of their meal and encouraged them to give us another try another day. By the time the encounter had ended… I was spent. I think trouble began when customer service felt unsettled. They were passed from one inexperienced server to another… while I was on delivery. She didn’t get to eat her mozzarella bread with her lasagna and I really think that ruined everything.
Factors and variables… service… timing… food quality… and unmet expectations can ruin an appetite and change perception. It’s a slippery slope.
I hope that couple comes back and when they do they have a better guest experience. Meanwhile… I pray for grace… for myself and for those we serve. #ihatemath