I dine out a fair amount (ok, more than a fair amount. I dine out a lot.) I have favorite spots. Spots I always take out of towners to, romantic spots, fun energetic spots...I’ve got a restaurant for everything.
What makes me go back to these places? The experience. And what makes a good or special restaurant experience? The food? Yes, obviously! The food must be good. The company you're with? Most definitely! The service? More important than you know.
How you're treated at a restaurant can make or break your experience. From how you're greeted at the door to whether or not your server gives you the right amount of attention. I’ve sworn off restaurants because of bad experiences, and have returned to restaurants for the service alone.
I had an experience recently at one of my favorite restaurants that made me really think about this, and it has stuck with me for days and weeks since then.
I had walked in, and was waiting for my table with a rather large group of friends. My friends and I were lingering in the small bar area, sharing some bubbly, and casually chatting. At one point I was speaking to the hostess and I realized that after all the times I've come in and had brief exchanges with her, I didn't know her name.
I reached my hand out to formally introduce myself, and her response?
"Oh I know who you are. You're a FOC and FOT (friends of two of the chefs) and VIP4..." Then in a whisper, she said "That's the highest level. "
Wow. I had no idea. I'm in the business of promoting restaurants, so while we always tell our restaurant managers to make notes in the reservations system, they don't always do it.
And although from a professional point of view, it didn't surprise me that they had notations about me, I was surprised by how happy it made me feel. It was a rare moment when I had a glimpse into the inner workings of a restaurant-not as an industry insider, but as a guest.
And as a guest? I felt incredibly special. I was taken aback and actually left speechless (and friends know that I am rarely speechless!)
I guess they really hit the nail on the head. I know I’ll be coming back. Frequently. Because at the end of the day, don’t we all just want to feel special? I do.