Fascinating service moments

What restaurants do wrong, all the time: a list, to help owners and managers


Over the course of my adult life, I've spent an inordinate amount of time at restaurants.  A couple of times it has even been enjoyable. But it feels like I've seen more places run horribly than run well. Owners, managers and servers have been making the same mistakes for so long it's clear they are not paying attention to what people complain about at all.

Because I'm a helpful sort, I've taken it upon myself to compile a list, with peace and love of course, of things that servers, managers, and owners of restaurants are doing wrong. Horribly, horribly wrong. I should note that to my mind, service issues are management issues, and management issues are owner issues. The buck stops with the guy who is taking the financial risk. And too often that person doesn't care or know any better. To that end, this entire list could be directed toward owners. But, I've broken down into the functional areas for ease of review.

Owners and managers, maybe this list will help you. Or not. I do know that putting this together sure made me feel better.

Readers may disagree with some or all of these issues. As always, if you do, keep it to yourself, because I don't care what you think.

And here...we...go...

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Fascinating moment in service at Federal Grill: Allentown, PA [CLOSED]


I ordered myself a glass of (red) Zinfandel from Renwood to go with my burger.  It was a modest pour at the modest price of 7 dollars, and in a decent glass.

Server: How is the [red] wine?

Me: [Elated] Very good.  And it's chilled.  That's wonderful!

S: That's the only red wine we chill.

M: [Perplexed, but not necessarily surprised] Why don't you chill all of them?

S: Red wine isn't supposed to be chilled.

M: [Defeated already and knowing it]: Sure it is.

S: [Adamant] No it's not.

M: [Requesting logical explanation] Why do you chill this (red) one then?

S: [Not providing, to my mind, logical explanation] Because that's the only one that's required to be chilled.

I'm not sure at what temperature the Federal Grill is serving their non-Zinfandel reds, and I'm not interested in finding out.  I'll stick to the Zin.

As I always try to stress, it's my opinion that a lack of wine education isn't the fault of young servers, but rather it's a management/training issue.   In the case of Federal Grill, they actually do have a wine education program for their servers, and the servers taste and discuss all of their wines.  I think that's fantastic, and more restaurants should take their lead.  Hell, there's no doubt in my mind that this young server knows more about wine and food than I did at her age, and I bet a lot of that has to do with the fine job that the management is doing with this program. 

BUT, and here's the rub, red wine isn't meant to be served warm or room temperature, and the fact of the matter is that it always tastes better somewhere in the 60's...preferably the low 60's.  Wine that is too cold will lose all nuance and nose (and taste).  Red wine served at "room temperature" (in my house that's about 71 degrees) tends to be too "hot" (a blast of alcohol in the nose) and just not all that pleasant to drink in general.  The reality is that restaurants serve, and people drink, white wine much too cold and red wine much too warm.  I'm guessing the three top reasons for this are 1) ignorance, 2) cost, and 3) cost.

Methinks that this concept is lost not only on the general public, but on people in the wine industry as well.  So, it might take some time for everyone to come around.  I'll wait (I gots no choice).  Until then I'll continue to order reds with a bucket of ice while attempting to change the world one server and one restaurant at a time.

On to the burger...

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Fleming's Steakhouse: lots of wine, but no clue


Fleming's Steakhouse is a chain that serves USDA Prime wet-aged beef.  They offer over 100 wines-by-the-glass, and that's a good thing.

My second visit left a bad taste in my mouth.  Specifically the taste of TCA and poor customer service.

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