The key to driving customers back to your restaurant is giving diners a great eating experience. That’s nothing new. On the other hand, are you sure you are doing all you can to make the experience great? Might you be making mistakes that annoy your customers without realizing it? Read our list of things that annoy customers, and ask yourself if there’s anything you need to change in your restaurant.
Charging for extra bread or water
Want a sure way to annoy your diners? Make them pay for something they are used to getting for free. Better to increase all your prices by a few cents, and liberally refill your bread baskets and water carafes.
Peppering your menu with spelling errors
A blatant disregard for spelling makes it look like you believe your customers to be ignorant and uncultured – and, as such, people who won’t notice or won’t mind reading that your dish of the day is “Omilette with mushroons”.
Re-read before you print. If English is not your forte, have an editor read over your menu. Don’t make it look like you don’t care, or don’t know any better.
Checking in on the diners too often
It’s fine to send your server to the table once to ask if everything is ok. More than once, though, is annoying. I come to your restaurant to eat and enjoy the company of the people I am with, not to be constantly interrupted with questions. Everything is delicious, now will you please leave me alone? If there’s a problem I’ll flag down a waiter myself.
Enumerating a long, unwritten list of specials
If you only have one or two daily specials, sure, let your server read them out loud. More than that, though, belongs to a written list. I don’t want to ask to repeat – and I don’t want to have to ask for prices. “The grilled langoustine, how much is it? ... No thanks, I guess I’ll take the onion soup.”
Writing incomprehensible menu items
We get it: you are different, and your plates are culinary work of arts. But please, write your menu in clear language. If your menu includes “Sublimated organic blackcurrant soufflé with activated almonds”, here’s the hard truth: you don’t sound sophisticated - you sound pretentious.
Putting more ice than liquid in your drinks
If you need to add ice to your drinks, a couple of small cubes are enough. I don’t like my drinks to be watered down, and I want to get what I paid for – which is the drink, not the ice.
Playing loud music in the background
If I come to your restaurant with company, chances are I want to talk to them. If I come alone, chances are I want to be left in peace. Whichever the case, please keep the music low – it is uncomfortable to scream to my family over rock songs while we are trying to eat.
Offering the first taste of wine to the man
One of those habits that used to be charmingly old-fashioned and have become plain rude. Don’t put your guests in the uncomfortable position of having to say “Actually, that’s for her”. Just ask the table who’d like to try the wine.
Adding ingredients without mentioning them in the menu
I was really looking forward to the sole with capers and olives – until it arrived, covered in coriander. Why do so many restaurants omit key ingredients in their menu? With an increase in food allergies, this is a big no-no.
Have anything to add? Let us know in the comments below.
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