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