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Apr 3, 2007 09:46 AM

Is once enough?

There is a restaurant here in my town that generally gets good reviews here on CH and is often recommended to posters from out of town looking for good chow. There was one post a few weeks ago from someone local who was really disappointed. The restaurant read the post, figured out who the customer was and contacted them to try and convince them to give it another go. BTW the poster has said that they have decided to try again based on this encounter.

Later I read another post by someone who had gotten stale bakery product and while a refund was issued no questions asked, the poster said they would never go back. Someone else suggested that they give the bakery one more chance and only not to go back if the product was consistently bad.

I understand about life being too short for bad food. And I'm not talking about chain food but small independent restaurants that might have had an off night. Do you assume one bad experience only leads to more? Does this relate only to food or does service only get one shot as well?

So, how many chances does a restaurant get to win you over?

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  1. For me, it depends on the overall experience, what went wrong and how it was handled if it was addressed with the staff/management. Also price point is a factor. I'm much less forgiving of a $25+ entree than an $8 one.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Janet from Richmond

      Is it also true that in addition to being much less forgiving of a $25+ entree that you also have higher expectations to begin with?

      I think that is true for me anyway. If a restaurant is at a higher price point and has been recommended by several people I trust I have higher expectations. Sometimes if the restaurant has been hyped enough it is very difficult for them to meet my elevated expectations.

      And of course on the price point issue, do I really want to put out more money when I did not like the food the first time?

    2. So funny, I was going to ask this question today as well! There is a local restaurant here that gets rave reviews from EVERYONE and wins a lot of top awards and recognition. The one time we went, we were extremely disappointed- there were a couple of top notch dishes, but overall our three course meal (both of us with different three courses) was nothing to write home about. This same restaurant is very expensive. I would like to give it another shot because most times I will give a restaurant two or three chances, but I just can't bring myself to pay out that much again. Especially when I've had much better food for half the price at an equally nice restaurant.

      In general, I think it depends on how bad the situation was. I think I will usually give, like I said, two or three chances.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Katie Nell

        ITA on "how bad the situation was." Bad service/bad food can often be a one-off.

        I once had such terrible service at a restaurant (we waited over an hour and still our food wasn't served) that I won't ever go back. I emailed the restaurant and they never got back to me.

        Another restaurant contacted me after I mentioned the slow/unattentive service; they asked that I give them another shot. I did and they've won me over as a repeat customer.

        1. re: Katie Nell

          Katie Nell, I think this was the problem with our local restaurant. The place is very well received locally but they were not at all impressed by their dishes and could see no reason to go back. But now has decided to give the place a second try. Like you I very rarely will write off a restaurant after one visit and that prompted me to ask the question.

        2. I think it also depends on what I'm getting at a restaurant. I've been known to visit a steakhouse and get something other than steak. If I go outside of a restaurant's specialty, I tend to give a little more leeway than I would otherwise. A good restaurant should only provide quality items, but I also realize they may be providing these items in an attempt to accomodate situations where not everyone wants the same thing.

          That said, if I go into a burger joint and the burger is bad, I never go back.

          1. i'm very impressed by the pro-active management that tracked down the chowhounder for another chance. wow.

            if a meal is a complete disaster, i won't go back. if it's limited to one sphere, like *just* bad service, i'll give another go.

            based on recommendations from here, i've been to a few places that i thought were just so-so. not that i won't return, but they have moved way down the rotation. i also live in a fairly large city, so am not surrounded by chains. i have far too many options to eat a crummy meal or be served poorly

            1 Reply
            1. re: hotoynoodle

              While I knew that the owner/chef of this restaurant read the reviews of this restaurant on this site, to take someone's CH handle, the date of the post and your reservation book and make it all work was impressive to me as well.

              I think your point about options is very valid. While we do have many people here who do appreciate a good meal, this town is not a foodie town. That is one of the reasons why they said they were going back, to encourage a local independent restaurant that really cares in a city that needs more like it.

            2. Very good question. For me I put a lot of weight into how much I care about a restaurant succeeding. If I encounter a place with an interesting menu, fair prices, convenient location I won't just "give a second chance" I'll actually seek out the owner and let them know what they have to do better.
              OTOH if I'm hustling to get someplace in a hurry and happen upon a spot that seems interesting but is a disappointment I'll probably just write it off.

              Now for a MINOR thing like a less-than-fresh roll or soup that is only warm instead of warm I MIGHT just let the wait staff know and see how they react -- if the place is not a dive I would expect SOME effort to correct this on the spot.

              Something that is so 'un-fresh' as to be unhealthy might be enough to keep from going back...