Category Archives: Glorious Food

An Open Letter to Lucille’s BBQ and Other Chain Restaurants

Dear Lucille’s,

Let me start by saying that I don’t mean to single you out specifically.  I mean, I could probably throw in your brethren over at Chili’s, El Torito and BJ’s, and many others too, but last night I visited your fine establishment, so I am writing to you today.  Don’t misunderstand me either, there are many positive aspects of eating at your restaurant, specifically with my kids.  Overall, I don’t love going to restaurants with my kids, you’ve got to believe me.  The thought of dragging two kids who are pooped from a day’s worth of non-stop kidlet action into your eatery is not my idea of fun, but neither is cooking and this has become a game of survival.  I’m tired, and when I walk in, it’s because I just want someone else to cook and do the darn dishes.  And provide coloring.  Oh how I appreciate your crayon packs, activity books and kids’ menus with drinks included.  I know that there are many of us who do and this is what keeps up coming back.  Whether or not you like us.  You need us and frankly, we need you too.

But here’s where my love begins to fade.  I beg you:  PLEASE stop training your employees to follow a strict script and upsell every customer who walks in and sits down at the expense of good, efficient customer service.  Allow me to illustrate.

My younger son just had a meltdown.  Even though we agreed to eat at Lucille’s, he has since changed his mind.  Whatever.  I can handle his nonsense.  I tell you this only to illustrate what my life looked like for a solid 15 minutes, while standing in front of your restaurant.  May I offer a suggestion?  Assume that everyone who walks in with young children has had a similar experience as they walk in.  It’s not bad, it’s just our reality and at that point, your mission should be clear:  Get this family fed as quickly as possible and out the door unless their actions indicate otherwise.  Trust me, we’ll buy drinks and/or dessert if we can and tip your servers well if they become our ally.  And, I should mention, we will be back and tell our friends.

After waiting several minutes, our server walks up.  Before he can say hello, the same son who just came down from his hysterics, starts whining to me that he is so hungry and thirsty.  I assure him that we are going to get food and drink shortly.  I am then able to say hello back.

“Can I get started taking your drink order?”

“Actually, we are all set to order everything, thanks,” I reply.

“Well, can I interest you in an appetizer? How about some Onion Straws or Spinach Dip?  Maybe you’d like a cocktail from the bar?”

I don’t know if this is covered in training, but your agenda as a server to stick to script cannot successfully override a crying preschooler.  Ever.  When your customer says she is ready to order, listen to her.  Especially if she has kids.  She will pay you extra if you listen to her- no one has all day and if you are the first, you will be rewarded handsomely in your gratuity.

Once, I remember being at Island’s and we had a server who totally got IT.  When she came up and saw me with two little kids, she jumped right in.

“Mom,” she said, “have these guys decided what they want to eat?  Let’s get their order in as soon as we can because I bet they are hungry!”  She was fully aware of our family’s needs for our visit.  She brought out crackers with the drinks, just in case.  She gave us extra napkins immediately, without us asking.  She was either a mom or a psychic or superhero or some freakish combination of them all.

But the best thing, I mean the best thing EVER, was what she did when she came to check on us after we had our food.  She brought me the check.  She explained that even though everything seemed to be going well at our table, she knew it could change at any moment.  If we wanted dessert or coffee, by all means, she’d check back in a bit, but just in case, the check was there.  That, my friends, is how you upsell and guarantee a good tip.  The coffee was hot and the ice cream pie was delicious, by the way.

By contrast, last night, my total visit lasted well over an hour, with most of our time spent waiting for our server to come back to us.  There was no indication that our server understood was interested or aware of who sat at our table.  When I asked for the check, the second time, he ignored me and asked if we were ready for some Cobbler or maybe some Red Velvet Cake.   One kid was dancing and doing ninja moves and the other was sitting in my lap, ready to fall asleep. As calmly as I could, I just said, “No.  Please just bring me the check.”

Understand, I’m not entirely faulting the server for this.  I’ve had this experience happen at many different restaurants (see list above), several times, with and without my children.  It is clear that servers are trained to suggest additional items to increase the total bill.  I get it, and I know it is part of the sales process and that is fine.  But if I may, allow me offer you this suggestion from those of us who eat in restaurants WAY TOO OFTEN-  when you train your employees to stick to script and focus strictly on the upsell, we can tell and probably won’t be ordering extra, sometimes just out of spite.  I submit that an alternative is to train servers to assess their guests and determine the level of customer service needed and gauge opportunity to upsell.  This is a genuine interaction, much quicker and will probably increase the amount many of us spend.

For the record- we did get dessert and coffee.  AFTER we left.

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Filed under Glorious Food, Mom Rant, parenting, What Really Happened

Eating the Golden Rule

I’ve been thinking about trying a vegan diet for a month.  I’ve always been a sorta vegetarian- mostly because I don’t like the texture of meat- but certainly not serious about it.  Now I know that pretty much EVERYONE has an opinion on this topic and really, that’s fine, but it’s also fine for everyone to do whatever works for them.  This post is really just my ramblings about my recent thoughts.

When I think about how I want to live my life, I really try to abide by the Golden Rule.

Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself

I try and be kind and mindful in my actions with others.  I try to treat others as I would like to be treated.  I am not always successful, but I try.  Lately, I’ve been thinking about how I eat and the concept of putting good things in my body, in order to live a more positive life.  The idea is similar to the Golden Rule, except in this case, I am putting good things in, hoping that goodness will come out.  If I eat healthy, I live healthy.  It’s kind of like “you are what you eat”.  If I eat like garbage, I feel like garbage.  If I eat well, I feel well.  Pretty simple, right?

But lately, I’ve been expanding this idea to include how my food is produced.  If farmers, plants, even the animals are treated poorly, how does this affect my life after I consume the food they produce?  I don’t have any answers, just questions and again, I know there are as many opinions and perspectives as there are snowflakes.  None of these seem to help me get any closer to the right thing for me.  So I’ve been thinking… and thinking… and thinking.

What I think I would like to try is to eat a Golden Rule diet.  And that means thinking about how the food has been produced before consuming it.  For example, most of the time, I plan to eat a plant-based, vegan diet, but I would like to also add in dairy products, when and if I can eat them knowing that the animals and humans who produce the food are treated as I would like to be.  I imagine that this might take some getting used to, but it shouldn’t be impossible, should it?  It might be pricy, but if I can’t afford something, is that reason enough to buy a less than ‘golden’ product, or do I just go without?  I mean, in every other area of my life, I try not to compromise my values when they don’t align with others or my circumstances, right?

Uh-oh.  I totally do this sometimes.  But I think, truthfully, a lot of us do this.  We take a job that compromises our needs, either personally or financially, because we need a job.  We spend time with someone we don’t really like because we don’t want to be alone.  And we eat what we know isn’t ‘good for us’.

Do you think there is benefit to changing this.  Does anyone want to share an adventure with me?  Do you want to join me on the eating the Golden Rule?  I have no science or anything to back this up, if you need it to do this.  Of course, if you know of any data, feel free to share.

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Filed under Glorious Food, I was wrong.