Recently we took a trip out of town for a birthday party. Friends and family were all gathering for a multi-day celebration. All the lunches and dinners were going to be a chance for everyone to get together but one morning we checked Yelp for a nearby breakfast option.
We scrolled past a bunch of nearby restaurants and came up with a café that had perfectly acceptable reviews. We hopped in the car and drove over to a long strip mall that had all kinds of little stores and restaurants. It was hot! We were pretty hungry and we grabbed the first parking spot we could find. It was right in front of a place that specializes in hot dogs. I’d seen it listed on Yelp and the reviews were fine but I didn’t really consider it for breakfast since hot dogs… but it had a breakfast menu posted on a chalkboard out front and it sounded good so we went in.
It was tiny. There were bar stools at the counter, a couple of tables and a few low stools at a makeshift counter by the window. The staff was super friendly, the food was delicious and the whole dining experience was terrific. However, I write a marketing column so…even when I’m not actually writing the column, I am always thinking about what the next topic should be and, most importantly, how it will relate to O&P.
The friendly staff? They were lovely and attentive to us and to all the other customers and there were clearly a whole bunch of regulars. But, they would NOT stop talking about their boss. It was pretty clear the boss was the owner. We were so happy with the food and the service that we went back the next day for breakfast. Saturday morning – we went earlier than Friday and it was jammed. Were the staff talking about the boss again? They absolutely were. In addition to talking about him, and actually mentioning him by name, they were also talking about his business partner or significant other. What did we learn after two breakfasts? He’s very strict and the staff does things all day long that they’d get in trouble for IF he knew that’s what they were doing.
An example? Someone froze the barbecue topping they use and the boss would lose his mind if he knew that it had been frozen because that is a major no no. Everything from the way they cleaned the grill, to how they prepped certain dishes and what the boss’ take on it would be was discussed in full detail right in front of all us paying customers. This town is a tourist destination and it’s pretty busy down there year round but not all the people in there were from out of town. I know because the place was so tiny that you were eavesdropping on everyone in there just by being in the room.
When we left the restaurant on Saturday morning I knew our breakfast adventure would be the topic of the next column. I learned a lot about “Boss guy” during our two meals and I’m fairly certain that he would be looking for a whole new staff if he knew he was the main topic of conversation every day at work and that the customers could hear every word.
It shows a lack of respect for the customers if you think they are so invisible or unimportant that you can air all your dirty work laundry for them to hear. How disrespectful is it to the guy paying you while you’re supposed to be working for him? What about the “no no’s”? What is one of those customers was the health inspector or, god forbid, some kind of blogger or online columnist?!
Like I said, the food was so good we went back a second time and the staff were friendly and the service was great. I’m sure there are some business owners out there in O&P land who have friendly staff, that provide good customer service and whose devices and services are top notch but who have no idea that their employees are publicly venting, either in person OR ONLINE about things that they shouldn’t be. If I were “Boss guy” I’d send a couple friends from out of town in and have them give me some feedback and then do some (re)training!
Have you had a similar experience? How’d you handle it? Let me know!