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Restaurant Owner responses

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I am curious what you folks think about whether an owner/manager responds to you or not.
If you email an owner/manager about an unsatisfactory experience, do you expect a response?

I did just this last October. I did not get a respponse from the person. I have done this a few times in the past and ALWAYS gotten a response.
Needless to say I was disappointed when the owner did not respond or consider what I had to say important enough to respond to.

This past week in a local internet story about the restaurant, I left a short comment saying I thought they were overrated and I had an unsatisfactory experience and got no response from management about it.

Well now, 8 months later, the owner emails me and says he thinks I owe them an apology for what I posted and proceeds to tell me why I was wrong about what I had emailed him 8 months ago.
One of the things I emailed them was that perhaps they could have more than 3 red wines. I did not think they were good and I could not pick one to get a bottle of.
So if my opinion is you should have more than three Italian Reds, how can that opinion be wrong? There IS no right or wrong....
But he managed to call me "lack of experience" in wine drinking the reason I did not understand his selection.
What do you guys think?

FOTD

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  1. I absolutely expect to be contacted if I email an owner and am disappointed if I don't. This guy sounds like a complete a-hole! It'll be very interesting to follow updates on this place...With an owner like that, I don't see much longevity.

    www.thelunchbelle.com

    1. The owner is out of line, and totally clueless as to the definition of "hospitality". I would consider posting another comment in the web venue where you posted your opinion, relating the harassing email you received and note that you and your friends and associates got his message loud and clear, and will all steer clear of his establishment.

      1. His response was definitely inappropriate, however without more info it's difficult to decide if his original no-response was rude. Was there more in your original letter than suggesting that they should have more than 3 red wines?

        2 Replies
        1. re: pollymerase

          Perhaps before we prepare to tar and feather this owner, we should consider that every story has two sides...After working in this industry for nearly 30 years, in all capacities, i have seen a few guests who simply must complain bitterly and spew non-helpful venom. I know that most owners work ridiculously hard to create what is essentially an extension of themselves and their neighborhood and would gladly address and rectify situations "gone bad". However, if FOTD sent an email that was insulting, aggressive, condescending and one in which the owner perceived as an "attack" of sorts, then no, those rude actions don't really require a civil reply (in my opinion). It is difficult to judge what exactly was stated in the original email, i suspect FOTD batters restaurant owners/servers often as he states in this post "i've done this several times". Just because a man or woman owns/works in a restaurant does not mean he must accept or be subjected to cruel and viscious criticism. Also, as i said after being in this business for so long, i can honestly say most of this type of behavior stems from folks who have never worked in the industry, which is fine, just my observation.
          My mantra is always to try to deal w/ the said problem, dissatisfaction, or error when it is taking place.... some folks tend to be more hateful behind their keyboard....

          1. re: burntsugar

            28¢ in postage on a postcard acknowledging receipt of the complaint is often enough to assuage 99% of the public. 41¢ and a letter addressing points from the complaint is even better but sometimes too difficult. (One owner I know can't write a complete sentence -- let alone a letter -- without going into cold sweats so he delegates this task to his accountant.)

            But, as you also point out, a minor amount of those complaints received are from cranks that have never worked in the industry. A postcard acknowledging receipt is still a good bit of PR.

        2. I'm confused, did you e-mail him directly or leave a post in some website's comments section? If it was the latter you're lucky you got a response at all. That's like dropping a letter on the ground and hoping the person it was meant for finds it and picks it up.
          As far as his response, I agree. A limited wine list is a valid criticism, and he should have said "Thank you for your input. Do you have any suggestions?"

          2 Replies
          1. re: ajs228

            I think initially there was a personal e-mail that was not responded to. Months later, a public comment by the OP in response to an internet story actually garnered a response from the owner. That's how i read it.

            1. re: iluvtennis

              That's how I read it too. iluvtennis has it right.

              To ignore your email and then to lambaste you for your posting is outrageous.
              I would definitely cut & paste his email to that same site with your original email. It speaks for itself.

              Your opinion is your opinion. It was not defamatory or "false". Owner has his opinion. To take you to task because you disagree is inexcuseable. Why not give us the restaurant's name?

          2. Dear Friend:
            My DH and I had a horrible experience at a restaurant that is a fave on this board. We were seated directly next to the kitchen, and had terrible service. After the order was taken, the server managed to slip our check on the table at about the 30 minute mark before we had even eaten. After we waited over 50 minutes for our breakfast but could not get the server to come to our table, we got up and left. She waived goodbye to us!
            I sent an email to the manager, and never received a reply. I sent a letter to the owner. Never received a reply. We waited six months and went back. We had a very similar negative experience. I again sent an email and a letter. Never heard a word from the owner or the manager. I did expect to be contacted by either the owner or the manager. I can't understand not contacting a customer that has a bad experience.
            The owner that you dealt with has no clue. He won't be in business for long.

            1. One of my best and worst experiences regarding owner feedback:
              Good: When the River City Brewery first opened in Wichita, we had a bad service experience (basically ignored by the server, couldn't get refills on drinks, couldn't get the check, etc.), so I picked up a comments card, filled it out, and dropped it off on the way out. Two days later, I had a handwritten, 4-page letter from the owner, apologizing, detailing what they had done in response regarding staff training, and included a $40 certificate to ask us to try them again. Which we did, for several years, until an out-of-town company bought them and took everything off the menu we liked.
              Bad: A new aviation-themed restaurant opened up near the Wichita airport. I thought it sounded fun, so I was looking at the menu on-line, and saw that all the menu categories were air-themed: Pre-flight for appetizers, Departure for sandwiches, Inflight for main courses...and Hellcats for the children's menu. Now, I know about the Hellcat fighters in World War 2 and I understand their importance to the war in the Pacific, but hellcat has another meaning: a women regarded as bad-tempered and evil. I don't want my daughters to fall under the menu classification of a "hellcat". So, I emailed the owner, and several days later got a response in the form of several fighter plane pictures, a history lesson, and an accusation of over-sensitivity. We won't be eating there, especially after my parents DID eat there and had bad service, a steak that was ordered medium, served rare, and when sent back, was returned incinerated. Aside from the decor, there was nothing to recommend a visit.

              1. I wrote a letter several years ago (just before computers became ubiquitous) to a local restaurant detailing why I was disappointed in my meal the night before, and got a reply a few days later, telling me that I was insulting his chefs with my claims. Don't go there anymore, even though it was our favorite restaurant at the time.

                1. Fellow CHers, this topic always intrigues me because I have this impression that the restaurant biz attracts certain personality types with specific skills and that responding to customers in writing to address issues is not necessarily one of their best skills or a priority given their long busy hours. I sincerely wonder if I have it wrong (honestly, my intention is not to suggest that the industry is filled with incompetent people, or to insult a whole profession ) and if so, could someone set me straight about my misconception? I have never had an owner response to either positive or negative feedback that I have sent in writing. A little more success if I've made my displeasure known in person at the time of dining but overall, I just don't think it's a priority for most owners (which I don't agree with but that's just how I see it). And perhaps it also varies by region?

                  1. Yes, as a matter of fact, I do expect a response to A Letter.

                    I won't use email because I've seen too many owners and managers pull the "I'm not savvy enough on email/with technology" card to trust it. Even those that use email regularly seem overwhelmed and tend to ignore responding to many emails.

                    A Letter, as one regional manager explained to me, is worth 1000 customers. The person took the time to not only find a blank sheet, it was usually on personal notepaper, so they're using time and personal resources to contact you. Then they posted it. The least you should do is acknowledge receipt of the letter. You don't have to agree with their stance but thanking them goes a long way to retaining them. And when they're right, it's something you can fix immediately. When I don't receive a timely response, it's a confirmation to the experience which prompted A Letter.

                    I've only been contacted electronically by an owner once. It was a pleasant exchange. I'm not sure what would be the benefit of being nasty in email (as an owner) other than it would get posted to multiple forums in "soundbytes" -- which would be a pr nightmare!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: The Ranger

                      very long story short, not only did i get a response, i got a phone call at home from the owner apologizing for the terrible time & he gave me a $100 GC for next time. ( start to finish the worst dining experience of our lives, too many things to even list! ) it was great customer service.

                    2. I don't understand this at all. I write a food column for the local paper. Readers sometimes take exception to something I've written and email me to tell me I don't know what I'm talking about. Every one always gets a response of at least: "Thank you for taking the time to write." Whether they're reading your words or eating your food, if someone cares enough to communicate with you, they deserve an answer.

                      1. A few months ago, we were having dinner at the Boulevard Café on Harbord with some friends. While we were there, a film crew was oustide in the street, working on a film. At some point, we later learned, they evidently complained to the restaurant management that the light from the restaurant was interfering with them, so the staff immediately turned out all the lights in the restaturant, leaving its patrons sitting in the dark.

                        Now, I don't mean a romantic dimming of the lights - I mean complete darkness, and deboning fish in the dark is not my idea of the ideal gourmet experience.

                        The next day, I wrote a polite letter of compaint to the restautrant's management - after all, their first responmsibility should have been to their customers, not the film crew. I thought that compensation in the way of a free meal might have been nice, but I felt I would setlle for an apology and a free cup of coffee.

                        But, I received no answer at all, and it will be a long time before I ever go there again.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: ekammin

                          I would have complained on the spot, and if not satisfied maybe even leaving while refusing to pay.

                        2. Thanks for all your comments.

                          I did go to the restaurant, write an email the next day and got no answer. It was indeed when I posted on a public internet page 8 months later, that I got the response.
                          I am a bit blown away to by the back and forth with this owner and how he insulted me...
                          He eventually backed down when I suggested that while I admitted I knew nothing about running a restaurant, he knew nothing about Customer Service.
                          He ended up thanking me (very begrudgingly and sarcastically) for my input.

                          Also of note, his web page had a very large link for his email and he is young and internet savvy so no email excuse there. He admitted he did not answer my mail.

                          Thanks for all the responses. The thread got moved and it has taken me this long to find it again.

                          FOTD

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: FriendOfTheDevil

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