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How many times is it ok for a restaurant to get it wrong?

If you have a restaurant you love, where you really like the food, how often is it ok for them to get your order wrong? 10% of the time? 50%? Where do you draw the line?

I have a local place I like to go but about 40% of the time, my order is not right. Like I get takeout, and something is missing. Or I order something with an addition or slight modification, which they've acknowledged I can make, and it comes in the original state, without the addition or modification. One time I got an upcharge they did not tell me about, when getting the daily special as part of a soup/salad combo, and when I complained about it, all they did was apologize for not mentioning that it would be more, because they "usually do that."

They try to make it right most of the time. I've had dishes remade while other sit and eat, and gift cards more than a couple times now. I don't want to be seen like a chronic complaining customer who is always looking for a handout, because I am not, but you know, how many times on average is this acceptable? Everyone has their off days, right?

This is a lunch place pretty close to where I work, and locally owned, so I frequent it about once a week or so.

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  1. I'm a 3 strikes kind of person but it depends on how much you really like the place and what you're willing to do about it.

    At this point, if it is a small locally owned place and I liked it, I would have a conversation with the manager/owner and just say "hey, this keeps happening - is there something we can do about it because I really like it here" and see what happens.

    Good luck - don't give up on them if you like them. Keeping a restaurant running smoothly is much harder than people think. If they want the place to work the manager/owner will figure out a solution.

    1. Don't frequent it once a week.

      Everyone has their own threshold for dealing with that stuff. I don't mind when people make mistakes, because we all do it. I start to draw the line when the mistakes get repeated, because then they aren't mistakes - they are errors. In my opinion, there are plenty of good, locally owned restaurants that do it right and you can patron their establishments. Although, I would also send said restaurant a letter letting them know why you will no longer giving them business. A smart business person will figure out how to fix the problem.

      1. I actually HAVE had a conversation with the owner about this and suggested maybe there is something in expo to be looked at, someone checking to make sure things are right before they go out. He responded that he was proud of his kitchen staff and thinks they do an excellent job, so what can you do?

        I do like their food a lot, and there aren't as many local places near where I work as I would like, so it tends to be the same folks repeated week after week on the days where I don't bring lunch. Cutting them out of the rotation would be disappointing, but could be necessary if this keeps up.

        4 Replies
        1. re: rockandroller1

          If you've spoken to him and brought up the problems, yet he refuses to acknowledge them..... well, I'd likely find a new lunch spot.

          You sound like a much more patient person than I could ever be, tho.

          1. re: linguafood

            You've been here. The indie places are good but largely bank-breaking, so when you get down to a reasonable price point, there are just only so many GOOD choices, and even fewer if you are not only looking for an independently owned place, but one that SOURCES local for at least some of their food. I mean, I've never had an incorrect order from Jimmy John's, but I feel kind of dirty ordering from them, an out of state owned chain sourcing food from who knows where. So it's a bit of a trade off.

            1. re: rockandroller1

              What about that tomayto-tomuhto joint? Obviously I don't know if that's close to your work (and I also don't know if it's good, as I didn't have a chance to eat there). That's local, tho, no?

              1. re: linguafood

                Locally owned, products not sourced locally. They are in the rotation but only rarely. Much of their food is very, very fatty. Grilled sandwiches, pizzas, salads all have cheese and bacon and stuff. What I really liked about this local place was that it has really healthy food. If I want to blow calories, I'd rather blow them at Lola than a sandwich shop.

        2. Twice. Once, O.K., twice, not good. If he thinks they are doing a good job and didn't listen to your suggestion, the I would definitely cross it off my list for good. And tell folks about it on fbook. yep.

          1 Reply
          1. re: wyogal

            I rarely go back to a restaurant that I don't like but 2X is my limit.

          2. I think you guys are probably right. Once I use this last gift card from them, that will be it.

            2 Replies
            1. re: rockandroller1

              I don't think you necessarily have to cut them out completely, but maybe take a break from them for awhile? Don't go for a couple of months, and then go back in. Perhaps the service will have changed? Perhaps you will have realized that you either really miss it and are willing to put up with their issues, or you will realize that you really don't miss it. Hopefully the manager/owner will notice that one of their regulars has stopped coming in and will comment on how they haven't seen you for awhile. That would be a perfect opportunity to say, I got tired of having my order incorrect 40% of the time and have been frequenting places that get it right. Hopefully at some point (probably not at that exact moment, as based on your previous interaction) they will see how it is losing them business and decide to make more of an effort to get things right. Wait a few more weeks/months, go back again and see if things have changed.

              1. re: pollymerase

                Thanks. I doubt they will notice my absence but will take a break.