(Pressed publish too soon. This is the full version).
This is going to my longest post probably. But it is a long time coming.
If you have like 30mins to kill…..?
Hi guys, just got a 1-Star review on Google:
The service was very bad. 1. Waiter made a face when he realised that we were only having drinks and desserts but not mains. 2. We were a party of 4 and was shown to a larger than usual table at the back of the restaurant. Halfway through our drinks, we were told that we had to vacate our table and make way for other guests. We were not happy but obliged thinking that it was a bigger group…we were shocked that we had to give way to a party of 3! 3. We were asked to move to sit outdoors…but we were not told where. So we waited at the door for a good 5 mins before we were ushered outside. In the meantime we saw our original table being cleared with no intention of our drinks and desserts being moved to our table outside. 4. When our drinks were brought to the table, they looked like they had been fished out of the wash basin in the kitchen. Needless to say, we did not finish our drinks. This situation could have been avoided if we had been told from the start that should the need arise, we would have to shift outdoors. However the boss told us that if he had made known this earlier, we would have been angry too. So either way we would be angry…he also spoke in a rather condescending tone. Anyway, this will be my first and last visit here.
Here is my response:
Hi, I was really hoping you would give me a bad review so I can respond.
I shall give me side of the story as follows:
You and your friends came in during peak hours during dinner (about 7pm) and ordered just 2 teas , 1 soup n 2 or 3 desserts. You were given a larger than normal table because I had none other left.
Not that we want to be calculative but we are a restaurant and we sell food as our main business. Not drinks, like a cafe does.
To make it worse, you guys took out your laptops n started working. Unfortunately, we are also not an office as no rent is charged.
It is notoriously hard for a restaurant to make money, especially these days and I can’t afford to let customers do this, especially not during peak hours on busy nights when we do the bulk of our business.
I explained my reasons to you and told you that we may have to move you because we have no more free tables. You could see that yourself actually.
Many customers won’t sit outside because it’s hot in Singapore and I have far too often lost customers because we ran out of inside seats.
I fail to see how the number of people your table was given to was relevant and anyway it is only one less. The point is, I had no more tables for them. But really, what kind of person goes to a restaurant to do their work, especially during peak hours?
As for your wait, I do apologise for that. I thought you guys wanted to leave. It was also a little crazy then so I was delayed in attending to you. For that I am sorry.
As for your drinks looking like what you said. I can assure you that we don’t have time to do anything to it. If they looked bad, it is because you left them that way. I should have the cctv footage to prove that.
About the face I made, frankly I was shocked that four of you would order so little. I know this may sound calculative but again, we are a high cost operation and you came in during our precious 2 or 3 golden hours. At that time, it is rather a frowned upon thing to do, not just by me but by any F&B operator.
I did tell you that at other times, I would accommodate you as much as possible but really, we are not Starbucks/Coffee Bean/MacDonalds or some other cafes.
As for not telling you earlier, I had no idea how you were going to order. Despite that, I would have left you alone despite it being peak hours if we had tables to spare. Basically, I was trying to avoid bringing up anything unpleasant unnecessarily. It is true that you would have been unhappy if I did tell you earlier. I will upset you either way so I tried to not do it.
We had many understanding customers who have even quickly finished up to make way for others during busy times. They understand that table hogging is bad etiquette. There are other examples of bad customer etiquette and I have included some links below for your kind reference.
Btw, I did apologise for having to do that. Repeatedly and at the end after billing, I apologised again and told you that in future, I would give you the same consideration as I did for the customer I gave your table to.
Your review and my response will be posted on my FB……running out of characters. Kindly continue reading there.
End of my response.
Guys, in the nearly four years I have been operating Pasta J, we have had the privilege of serving many, many great customers.
But there are those who have really made life hard for us too unfortunately. These customers make us feel taken advantage of, abused and disrespected.
Some of these cases I will mention later but I would like to frame it as some learning points on how to be a fair to businesses. As will be listed below, each and every point is a result of actual experiences.
Again, the following points are the hard truths of running a very high cost business like a restaurant.
I have been putting off writing about this but recently things have been really bad.I am far from the only restaurant owner facing this but I guess, we all try not to rock the boat.
1. Waiver of Corkage: We pay rent, renovations, furniture, staff and amenities and utilities to earn a living (I have also continually reinvested to make improvements). Why should we then let customers bring their own wines, provide expensive, easily breakable wine glasses and serve them their wine for free?
Who will pay if the wine glass breaks? Why should we be paying staff to serve that for free? There is a cost for everything and we pay for it. And this being Singapore, we pay a lot for it.
I have had customers get indignant for charging corkage. I am afraid I don’t get it.
2. No Shows: A reservation is a commitment taken too lightly by some. Often, the no shows don’t even pick up the phone when we contact them to see if they’re coming.
We lose customers this way because we either have to put others outdoors (often disliked) or we have to turn them away.
How would customers like it if we don’t honour their reservation?
For big reservations, we make special arrangements like getting more staff, preparing ingredients and if they don’t show, we feel kinda of let down.
3. Having less guests than reserved: This happens for too often than I can tell you. Again, we lose customers this way and it really hurts when the customer treats it like nothing. I have lost many,many customers this way.
2 such cases are particularly bad. 1 was a reservation for 22pax by a group of army personnel in 30mins. We hustled. At the end, only 7 turned up and the entire group of 7 acted as if nothing happened and didn’t tell us the rest were not turning up despite seeing all the other tables joined to theirs with the menus laid out.
The 2nd was recent. Despite telling the customer that we will be making special arrangements to cater for his reservation for 24pax, he had 8 less turn up, didn’t bother telling me until I asked upon which he admitted to reserving for more just in case.
Well, I certainly felt stupid to cancel my own lunch off and for calling back another staff who was also off.
No apologies for both and other other cases.
4. Late arrival n/or partially very late arrivals: This happens all the time for big groups. Sometimes, the entire party can be seated only 1.5 hours later. We will then have hold empty seats for that long.
5. Changing the recipe: The way I see it, you come to a restaurant to enjoy the restaurant’s dishes, not to enjoy your own recipe, which logically, you would have to cook yourself. Why insist on changing it? Especially to remove the main ingredient? We have even been asked to remove the clams from Clammy Addiction!
6. We have been trying to educate customers that it is wrong to add cheese to every pasta or other dishes. We work very hard to craft and produce our dishes, so forgive us pls if we refuse.
From experience, adding cheese to everything is a practice allowed and done mainly at places where the food is bland and the standards are low. We believe our customers know better because logically, cheese doesn’t go with everything.
7. Ordering too little and Non – Eaters: going to a restaurant should be an experience and restaurant owners like myself put in a lot of resources to make it a good experience. It hurts us when customers make use of us for meetings, to hang out or just to socialise without being fair to us.
We had cases where customers come in and order just for a fraction of their group size and then have friends join them and worse still expect us to serve everyone. I have even had 8pax come in and ordering 3 main courses and that’s it. Then they ask for sharing plates for everyone.
Some think that since we are not full anyway, they are actually doing us a favour by filling up the seats. I have had this said to me to my face. But when we allow it once when we are not busy, can we refuse when it is busy?
Frankly, we don’t mind occasionally serving such customers but it has been happening too often. Case in point above.
8. Not complaining then giving a bad review: Actually, we are grateful for opportunities to improve but I believe your dining experience is more important than a opportunity to give a bad review.
It is probably more of a Singaporean thing to not confront issues head-on but this doesn’t help the customers. If we were wrong, I insist on making up for it and you would then still have a great experience. If you complain only after, nothing can be done about your time with us.
9. Hogging tables: On busy times, we need to be able to turn the tables because that is mainly when we can make money and make up for slower times.
Other customers also want a chance to dine too.
It is really not right to expect to have the table to yourself for the whole meal service. There is no such thing as unlimited service.
10. Don’t abuse the staff: I have found that when I am not around, my staff sometimes get bullied. Someone criticised us for not asking for the doneness of our pork chops and when told that pork chops don’t come in doneness, he got angry and then picked on something else. At the end, he threw his receipt into our menu basket in front of our staff in a fit of anger. Don’t do that……
11. Pls take care when using our amenities: For example, pls don’t mark our sofa or let your children damage anything. We had a case just now but the customer was very responsible to inform us and offered to do something about it. I really appreciated that and thanked him for it. Just please do try to prevent it in future.
Again, I hope everyone reading this understands that I am not trying to be personal. What I have written about is what we have been facing since the beginning and I have put off publicising it.
They’re only basic considerations, basic manners and only what is fair.
Everything costs us and restaurants are famously a high cost operation. We are not a cafe. Our main business is selling food, not just coffee, desserts or soft drinks. The bulk of our business is done during peak hours, they are thus very precious.
On the whole, we have been blessed with a growing business and probably more than our fair share of great customers.
Basically, we hope to keep it simple. We want to serve food, really good food and provide great service to customers who will be fair to us because after all, we are running a business.
Hope you all understand.
FB post by Pasta J