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Feb 18, 2007 11:33 AM

Choosing a Restaurant Because of the Service

Just wondering how many people find themselves returning to a restaurant primarily because of the service that they've received, not because of the food. And if you do so, is this in conflict with a CH-orientation, where one is seeking out the food, regardless of location or service?

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  1. I don't think food is the only consideration when dining. Service definitely play a huge role in how a restaurant is perceived, regardless of how good (or bad) the food is. I would return to a place with okay food but excellent service anytime over a place with great food and terrible service, or where I did not feel welcome. Years ago my SO and I went to a restaurant in Providence RI that had acceptable, but not great food. The staff, however, went out of their way to make us feel welcome and well-looked after, going so far as to give us an umbrellas as we were leaving because it looked like rain. We often remember that when we think about how service can make or break a place. A restaurant's success is based on food and service combined, IMHO.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Kbee

      I SO agree on all your points! We went to a restaurant in San Mateo in the San Francisco Bay area last night. This was our third time for dinner and I really, really wanted to like this place. The food was pretty good but not so amazing that we can overlook the fact that each of the times we went, we didn't feel like the staff cared about our dining experience. It wasn't like one server was rude or anything. I feel that this is a poorly managed place. This is an upscale Chinese restaurant and there were plenty of guys in black suits standing around waiting for something to happen and yet we had to work very hard to even get their attention. We did not feel welcomed and this is dropping over $500 for a dinner for 10 (No expensive items like shark fin soup). I didn't expect 5 Star service and actually didn't want that but we didn't feel like anyone there felt responsible for our dining pleasure. The final blow was when they casually served a dessert completely different than what was ordered and didn't tell us. When we asked, they said the cook didn't like the result of what we ordered and decided to just give us something else. The something else was what they served for free to everyone. No apology and no adjustment to the check. We will not be going back to that restaurant no matter how famous that chef is. To bring this back to the OP's question, I would put up with bad service if the food is really good and the staff is doing the best they can (eg, understaffed, not well trained) but I would not return to a place that makes me feel like they're doing me a favor by letting me eat there.


      1. re: margret

        I am curious what the restaurant was. I had a somewhat similar experience at a restaurant in San Mateo that has been getting raves. Once was enought for me so I wont go back. Curious if it is the same restaurant.

        1. re: tomritza

          Chef Wai on 4th Ave in San Mateo?

    2. i started a similar thread not long ago:

      i'll reiterate that if a place has lousy service, but good food, i'll give them a second chance. but if they fail again, i'll never go back. i don't care how good the food is. one of the reasons i eat out is to relax. if my server is surly, or m.i.a., or a mess, it's not worth the trouble for me. plenty of other places that get the formula, so i'm not throwing good money after bad.

      2 Replies
      1. re: hotoynoodle

        Sorry about duplicating the thread - this search engine situation is driving me batty!

        1. re: ElsieDee

          oh ! no worries, i had to search my own posts, it didn't show on the board search engine. grrrrrrrrrr....

      2. The original comment has been removed
        1. GREAT service cannot make up for bad food.

          However, there IS a time when GREAT service and okay food are just what the dr ordered. Certain client lunches, for example

          Crap service and GREAT food -- yep, I'll take it

          1 Reply
          1. When Lolo at Manor and Mt. Pleasant, was Scoozi- there was this hilarious waiter there. Hilarious in that he appeared to be hanging on by a thread or have just been beaten up, this on a consistent basis. The food was fine, not special. Whenever we went, we'd have a litttle chat, he'd pour out some wine (at the end of the meal) and we'd spend a few minutes. He always seemed genuinely pleased to see us. For some reason, we found ourselves going on a Tuesday night, or when we'd just flown in from horrible eating-with-our-families weekends- even though the food was not special. It was close to our place, consistent, and enjoyable, though not technically excellent or even really great!