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When you have a GREAT experience at a restaurant ...

ipsedixit Apr 24, 2007 02:55 PM

... how often do you let the restaurant know about it afterwards?

I ask because, it seems, people tend to complain more often about horrible service (or experiences) than they do about complimenting a restaurant for a great dining experience.

I think that it is important to let a restaurant know of both -- when it was bad, and what it was good.

People should be praised when they deserve it.

For example, the other night we went out to dinner and brought our own bottles of wine. Ponied up the restaurant's corkage and ordered. When the staff realized the wine we were drinking, the kitchen decided to throw in an extra appetizer to compliment our wines. They didn't have to do this and we didn't ask for it, but it worked out really great.

Later, we e-mailed the restaurant to note our sincere appreciation for the attention and service that they provided that night ... and they were very happy to hear from us and they even agreed to waive the corkage (should we BOYB again) on our next visit.

  1. a
    AnnaEA Apr 27, 2007 05:00 PM

    Whenever a dining experience blows me away, I tip extravagantly, and make sure to thank the server and manager of the place in person before I leave - unless they're slammed, in which case I'll leave a note for them, or pop back in the next day. When I talk to the manager I make sure to name what it was that made me so happy - be it service, a particular dish, the work of a specific chef, etc.

    I take a certain small personal pleasure in catching the server before they've cleared the table and picked up their tip -- doing my bit to discredit the idea that people who praise don't tip well. If I'm so impressed I'm telling you about it, there's at least 40% waiting for you, if not more.

    1. cayjohan Apr 26, 2007 10:19 PM

      Don't just be generous with praise with the restaurants; remember your purveyors as well. A call to say " your employee (insert name) was a great help in selecting my salmon for gravlax" and telling the GM why you found this appealing; takes about 5 minutes. I've done this numerous times...but always anonymously, as I don't want to taint the waters and make it look like I'm looking for a freebie. The GM of a restaurant or a purveyor will always snap to attention, as they are used to getting complaints ("my salmon mousse made with your salmon failed to please my mother-in-law" or "I'm still burping the bell-peppers in your fajitas"...and the like). Everyone loves to hear something good.

      Try it . As the OP says: "People should be praised when they deserve it."

      And we'll all eat better when the GOOD is praised, versus when the BAD is trashed endlessly.

      IMHO.

      1. b
        baconstrip Apr 26, 2007 10:02 PM

        From the restaurant's perspective, the best thing a happy customer can do for us is to come back and tell friends about us.

        1. j
          Jase Apr 26, 2007 04:05 PM

          Having worked at various service jobs during school, I usually try to do it not just at restaurants but at any other service oriented business. The employees and managers usually only hear complaints and often they're in shock when someone takes the time to praise them.

          Also I try to be specific about why and what they did to earn the praise. I figure its positive feedback and much more helpful than a generic, "we had a great time" or "he/she took really good care of us" They're more apt to take it seriously too and not think I was a friend of the employee or something like that. Of course a generous tip on top of the praise. Few things worse for a server than a big verbal tip but no cash.

          Its also amazing how much mileage I get out of it now in the corporate world when I take the time to thank someone for that exceptional job. I usually get top priority from vendors and they also address my complaints faster than other customers.

          1. Splendid Wine Snob Apr 26, 2007 10:32 AM

            I've sent thank you notes, let both server and manager/owner know, and tell as many people as possible about the great experience.

            Nothing works better than word of mouth.

            1. jinet12 Apr 26, 2007 07:31 AM

              I tell the manager how much we enjoyed the restaurant, and then I suggest to others that they should dine there....

              1. orangewasabi Apr 25, 2007 07:03 PM

                Thanks for posting this.

                I am travelling right now, and tonight I had a wonderful service experience . . . sitting alone at a four top on the patio, I might add. The server truly made a difference in my day. Though the 50% tip was a thank you, I wanted to do something more and this thread inspired me to dig up the contact info to send a written note of praise. A great server can be a beautiful thing.

                1. amyzan Apr 25, 2007 05:05 PM

                  Yeah, I've had wonderful conversations with owners/managers after a fantastic meal, even one that merely had fantastic moments. I don't do it every time, though.

                  1. hotoynoodle Apr 25, 2007 12:11 PM

                    i have sent thank you notes and also commented on my way out, with chefs, managers and servers. i know how nice that positive feedback feels. i'd rather spread honey anyway!

                    1. scubadoo97 Apr 25, 2007 07:38 AM

                      I recently sent a thank you letter to the chef/owner of a small restaurant in our area. I don't do this often as food and service rarely exceed my expectations at most restaurants.

                      1. z
                        zin1953 Apr 24, 2007 08:24 PM

                        As laurendlewis says, it's exactly the same as a complaint -- you email, call, or wrtie the restaurant and compliment them.

                        I often review the restaurant online, and include in the email a link to the article.

                        1. jfood Apr 24, 2007 08:18 PM

                          Jfood loves speaking with the manager after a great meal. We ate at Commanders on Sunday night and I spent 5-10 minutes chatting with the manager (noone was waiting for a table). They are there to please and when they hit the bid they should know about it. Love doing it.

                          1. Sam Fujisaka Apr 24, 2007 06:56 PM

                            Such great experiences make me willing to walk on burning broken glass for the restaraunt and staff.

                            But that's extreme, I usually just put them in my will, give them my car, and invite them to my place for dinner.

                            1. p
                              phoebek Apr 24, 2007 06:10 PM

                              I had a dinner party for my husband's birthday at a small restaurant, and was extremely pleased at the way everything was handled. But I was somewhat disappointed to get absolutely no reponse to an appreciative e-mail I sent the next day. I wasn't looking for anything other than a "you're welcome," and the lack of any response didn't sit well.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: phoebek
                                Katie Nell Apr 24, 2007 06:43 PM

                                I totally get where you are coming from, and I have to admit that I was a bit crushed after I sent the above thank you note and the owner didn't recognize me the next time I was in, but... it's really not necessary to thank someone for a thank you... then, it just makes that person feel like they need to thank you back, and it's just a neverending cycle!

                                1. re: Katie Nell
                                  m
                                  mojoeater Apr 24, 2007 06:50 PM

                                  Everyone should realize that there is no telling who checks the email or opens the mail. Some restaurants don't even have computers in their offices, so the email probably gets checked very rarely. My experience in the biz showed me that while they might embrace electronic ordering with a little push, it takes an old school restaurateur a very long time to embrace email and the internet. That's why their websites aren't updated.

                                  Oh - and how are they supposed to recognize you if you thank them by email or letter?

                                  1. re: mojoeater
                                    Katie Nell Apr 25, 2007 05:38 AM

                                    Because my situation was special, and it would have been recognizable in my note.

                              2. tatertotsrock Apr 24, 2007 03:35 PM

                                I dine solo quite a bit and at odd hours...usually around 1:15-1:30pm (I'm a personal trainer and I start at 6am and usually don't get my first break till 1pm).
                                I usually try to go to a nice place with a good wine list if I don't have anymore clients for the rest of the day...sometimes I will get rushed or ignored if the place closes for the afternoon and it really bums me out...I was a server back in the day and I am always a generous tipper (even with shitty service I'll at least tip 18% to cover their taxes) so it gets on my nerves when I get under par service...still, I don't complain. However, If I get exceptional service, I make it a point to write a little note on the credit card slip thanking the server for the excellent attention, and I wish them a good day.
                                Serving can be a thankless job regardless of how well you treat the guests...especially in higher end places where some people on expense account with new found power try to make themselves feel more inportant by belittling the server...I have seen this many times and have always wanted to say something to those bullys.
                                Hopefully more of us will take the time to write a quick thank you to the server or to the manager...it really is so simple and it can really make someone's day.

                                1. ccbweb Apr 24, 2007 03:20 PM

                                  I send a note to the manager/owner and try to be very specific about what was good and why. i'm actually more likely to send a note praising the restaurant for excellent service than I am to criticize for middling service.

                                  1. b
                                    boltnut55 Apr 24, 2007 03:20 PM

                                    It is SO much more pleasant to write or say something positive. About two weeks ago, our party of 14 went to Mimi's while on vacation... so I think I was in Long Beach. It was late, we were all tired and hungry, and waited too long to look for a restaurant. Four in our group were children; two of the children split a child's plate, and the rest of us ordered a meal. No one ordered drinks - we REALLY rather drink water. We asked for more bread, more water, honey mustard to go with the bread, and she served us graciously. She offered to split the child's order of soup and salad, and I piped up, "is there a charge?" and she exclaimed, "No, of course not!" Well, okay! Halfway through the meal, my daughter whispered, "Mom, we've got to tip her more on top of whatever Grandpa is tipping!" Grandpa was paying the bill and normally tips 15%. Down the table, I heard another child quietly saying something about tipping more (not when the waittress was around). After everyone left the table, a couple of us discreetly looked at the receipt, and Grandpa tipped something more than 30% because he even recognized how well the server treated us.

                                    Yes, it was later in the evening, but she still had several other tables to tend to. I'm sure she was very tired after the regular dinner crowd had left - we arrived around 9:00 p.m. Yet she served us with a smile and willingness as if we were her first and only table of the evening. I called the General Manager's office, and someone took down the information to give to the district manager.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: boltnut55
                                      b
                                      boltnut55 Apr 25, 2007 10:26 PM

                                      By the way, the GM called me this afternoon, thanked me profusely for taking the time to give her positive feedback, and told me that she's going to make sure that my server is recognized in front of all her peers with lots of praise. What a pleasant phone call!

                                    2. Katie Nell Apr 24, 2007 03:05 PM

                                      I wish I did it more often than I do. Even just the stupid, simple things, I wish I would make a point to thank someone... for instance, one time, I had the *nicest* carhop at Sonic, and it wasn't a big deal, but I just wish I would have let someone know how great she was. Too often, I think about it after the fact. I'm a thank you note writer, and my mom (the queen of all things proper) says it's never too late to write a thank you note, so I often take that into consideration. When we had our Thanksgiving meal catered to bring to my husband's grandma who had just had a stroke, they were so kind, the meal so good, that even though it was six months later, I still sat down and wrote a thank you note.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Katie Nell
                                        yayadave Apr 25, 2007 07:12 AM

                                        Sending it 6 mos. after the fact may mean more just because it shows that the memory of your experience stayed with you. You're only responsible for what you do. You can't control how or when your message is received or by whom.

                                      2. m
                                        mojoeater Apr 24, 2007 03:03 PM

                                        I agree. I actually take a great deal more pleasure in complimenting the chef, server, etc. than I could ever take in complaining. It seems that it's easier for people to focus on the negative. Plus, if you like/love the restaurant and want to go back, the staff will be more likely to remember you. I don't know how many times we've gotten free drinks, tastings of new menu items, or invited to special events simply because the restaurant values our business.

                                        1. l
                                          laurendlewis Apr 24, 2007 02:58 PM

                                          I do the same as I would for bad service - make note to the server and manager.

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