I’m hungry; menu excites. I go for a 10-minute walk.
5 p.m. Door still locked. Peer in again; no one looks my way. I knock; no response. I knock again. Young, hip, unsmiling waiter opens the door with a questioning look. I look at my watch, I look at the gold lettering, I look at the cool waiter as he asks, “Can I help you”?
Huh? Can I help you? I want to say, “Yeah, brother can you spare a dime?” But I ask, “Are you open?” In an exasperated voice, he says, “Well, we’re setting up right now.” I process this for a beat. “Well, it’s 5 o’clock and it’s hot out here; can I come in?” It feels like I’ve just asked him to help me move furniture to my fifth-floor walk-up.
5:05. I seat myself. The waiters charm one another.
5:10. I go up to a chatting duo and say, “You know, if you’re not really open at 5 you should change your signage. And you could have at least offered me a glass of water.” They look at me silently. I use the ladies room, walk out, and fume for the next three hours.
Restaurants are in the service business. In a town like New Orleans, where we have 500 fabulous choices per night, service matters more, not less.
Good service doesn’t mean that there are four forks, three spoons, and fine crystal. Service is about caring. Little things, big things, but mostly the feeling that you are welcome.
The menu at this restaurant looked really good. The interior, the wait staff looked really cool. But when cool turns to frigid, it’s better to be in the refrigeration business than the restaurant business.
I may not be a 25-year-old hipster, but until there’s an age requirement in gold lettering on the door, I’m still a customer.