Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hospitality---Wherefore Art Thou?

I sincerely hope this becomes a meme and goes viral, or whatever the terminology is.  What I hope is that more people in the hospitality industry read and heed.  And remember why it's called "hospitality industry."

This is a post, in it's entirety from friend and colleague Maxine Borcherding, blogging on her website blog at (with which I am deeply affiliated, full disclosure).  And since I and my wife were the two other people mentioned standing huddled in the high wind and heavy rain...we took it personally.

Here is Maxine's post.  She speaks for the three of us:

Hospitality---Wherefore Art Thou?
Wine and spirits are so often a part of social occasions, especially at restaurants and bars, that when you go to a business to enjoy good drinks, good food, and the company of friends, warm hospitality is something you have a right to expect. So why are we so frequently disappointed?

Last night, it was raining. A cold front was coming in, and the wind was picking up. I’d arranged to meet friends at a well known local lounge at five pm- the advertised opening time.

I arrived at three minutes to five. Looking through the door, I saw two young men sitting at the bar (employees? friends of employees?) and the bartender. The door was locked. I huddled just outside the door and waited.

My friends arrived at two minutes to five. The rain was falling harder. The wind was gusting, blowing the rain under the awning. The young men at the bar and the bartender studiously ignored the three people standing, shoulders hunched, just outside the door.

One minute to five. Door still locked, still being ignored.

Five pm. No eye contact. The door remained tightly locked.

At that point, we left- walked half a block up the street to another restaurant- newer- less well known. It also opened at five, but here, the door was open. We were greeted warmly by a smiling young woman, seated, and immediately approached by a server with menus to take our drink orders. The drinks were well made, the small plates delicious and beautifully presented, the service attentive without being intrusive.

I probably won’t go back to that first place. I’ll more than likely tell others about my experience. My not returning as a customer won’t particularly hurt their bottom line. But if other customers have the same experience, it might.

I wonder why, when a restaurant is successful and expands here, and beyond here to other communities, they so often forget the most basic principle of hospitality and the factor that originally made them successful: that customers will forgive mediocre food and drink, but they will not forgive bad service; and they won’t tolerate being ignored.

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