Wednesday, July 03, 2013

A Tale of Two Restaurants

In June, my wife and I went to two small restaurants that we'd never tried before . Both are fairly new. They provided very different experiences.

Physical surroundings: Both were spartan. One was somewhat more upscale but the other was fine.

Atmosphere: In one, the owner - who happened to be at the front corner - enthusiastically greeted us, asked if we'd ever been there, and then explained the concept of the restaurant, why it is different, and how the food was made. Six other customers were there when we arrived and more came while we ate. In the other restaurant, we were greeted by a young woman who gave us some dirty menus and then wandered off. The manager waved from a back table. A very sweaty employee emerged from the kitchen crew, belched, and then took a break at one of the tables. Another employee went out the front door and smoked a cigarette a few feet away. There was one customer picking up an order when we arrived. No one else was at the tables and no one came while we were there.

Service: Everyone at the first restaurant was friendly and seemed happy to be there. The owner came by before we left to ask how we liked it. The service at the second restaurant was minimal and would barely pass for friendliness.

Food and Price: Although I was skeptical of the first restaurant's offerings, the food was quite good and reasonably priced. I'd been eager to try out the second restaurant but it served one of the worst meals I've ever had. And it wasn't cheap when put up against comparable places. It also cost more than the first restaurant.

Summary: There is always the chance of catching a restaurant on a bad day but judging from some comments on the Internet about the second restaurant, our experience was not unusual. What struck me about the two places was that, aside from the glaring difference in the quality of the product, there was a huge difference in pride. The people at the first restaurant seemed genuinely proud of their business and their product. The people at the second place were their polar opposites.

Neither place was a chain. Each one is family-owned. I'll be very surprised if one of them is still open a year from now.

You start with positive values and work out from there.

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