Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Do You Give Restaurants A Second Chance?

Recently, Heavy Table did a restaurant review that created a lot of discussion, one comment that really caught my attention said it wasn't fair to review a restaurant based on one visit. This got me thinking, doesn't the average person decide on a restaurant's value based on one visit? Do many of us have the expendable income to revisit a place where the service or food was not up to our expectations just to make sure that first visit was representative? I don't think so.
#97 - The Tasting
Here's an example from my own experience. There is a restaurant in town that everyone talked about how wonderful it was. We decided we had to check it out. We made reservations and dressed up for the occasion. From the minute we walked in the door we were treated horribly by both host and server. You would have thought we were two high schoolers on a date at the fanciest restaurant in town instead of two adults who eat out often and appreciate food. The food may have been excellent (not that we were ever told the specials or anything), I don't remember because everything was clouded by the rest of the experience. We never went back. Why would we when there are so many other wonderful restaurants in Minneapolis where we will be welcomed warmly and served by someone who cares about our experience and what they are serving. I'm happy to give them my $100+ dollars any night of the week.
#174 - End of a Good Meal
That restaurant seems to be the culinary darling in town again with everyone talking about it and writing rave reviews. I find it hard to believe we are the only people who ever had such a bad experience there. Still, we can't bring ourselves to be excited about going back and giving it another try. When do you give restaurants a second chance? Are you more likely to give a cheaper restaurant the benefit of the doubt and expect more of higher end places? Are we missing out by not giving this restaurant a second chance?

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21 comments:

HungryinSW said...

I'm a one and done kind of guy when it comes to bad restaurant experiences. You hit the nail on the head - there are lots of great places to eat in this town. A huge piece of criteria for me is being consistent, so if it's a miss on the first crack it will likely be a miss again. The only time I go back is if we are out with friends and they want to go. If my/our initial experience was horrific, I at least mention it, and will roll with it if they still want to try. I can't say I've been converted back on any place yet, but I do have a "never again" list...

Kitten with a Whisk said...

Yes, I do. For the main reason being that I worked in hospitality for 10+ years so I know that everyone can have an off night.
When I had a table complain (I was a manager) I almost always invited them back to give us another try and offered them brunch on me.
It never failed.

Now if I speak to a manager and they don't resolve the issue in someway then I won't return. If the manager doesn't care, then you can bet your ass the staff doesn't either.

Silvia M. said...

I think for the most part we don't go back to a place we didn't like, especially if we were treated badly. And yes, I believe there are more expectations for a high-end place, they charge us way more so the service should correspond.

Amy P. said...

I agree, there are so many other good places to go in the Twin Cities, why go back a second time? Maybe that's not fair to a restaurant having an off night, but that's just how it is. First impressions matter.

Anonymous said...

My philosophy: No second chances for bad food.

I will give a restaurant the benefit of the doubt for bad service, and even if the service is awful I will tend to keep eating somewhere if the price is right.

kat said...

Kitten - I agree everyone can have an off night & I would have thought that if it was just the server or just the host but since we were treated poorly by everyone we came in contact with that night I felt like it was more than that.

Anonymous said...

We find that when we're treated poorly at an establishment, more than likely, it will fold (it just might take some time). A restaurant cannot sustain itself on great food alone. Service is a huge part of the equation. This is true of both the cheaper and more expensive restaurants. We typically don't give a restaurant a second chance, mainly because Mpls does have so many great places to eat, that I think it would be a waste of our time.

Bonnie said...

If I'm trying a restaurant for the first time, I usually give it just one shot. However, I will consider the circumstances. Did I order what they are known for/what was recommended? Was there a reason for poor service (ie a reception). Usually I will complain if the food isn't up to par. If the management either offers to replace my food or takes it off my bill, then I will likely give them another chance. If my patronage doesn't matter, then it isn't worth my time, money, or effort to return.

Restaurants that I have been to and enjoyed in the past get more leverage. They have to be bad a couple of times before I give up.

Barbara said...

There's a restaurant in town that everyone seems to love. We've given it THREE chances! It failed each time. I can't figure it out.

shopgirl said...

No. Emphatically. And it's not just a matter of money. With a toddler, the number of dinners that we get out are precious, few and far between.
It is harder to reconcile when it is the service that is lacking, or even horrible, and it's not about the food.
Really, I would have to say something. Not cause a scene. Not freak out. And maybe even not that night. But I would ask. "Hey, nice to meet you, are you the owner?" And if the host that night is the owner, done. Game over. But if the host is not the owner - I bet the owner would appreciate knowing that there is an attitude parade at his/her place. The poor chef didn't get a chance.
You were VERY kind not to mention the restaurant here. That is VERY lucky for them. They know not who they are dealing with.
And, the top picture in this post cracked me up. : ) A 'good appetite' 'stock photo'. Thank you for the warm memories!

kat said...

Shopgirl - I do believe from further research that the host may have been an owner...not good. I thought you would get a kick out of that picture...

shopgirl said...

If the host was the owner, then they showed an appalling lack of judgment.
Never return. There are so many other innovative Chef's in the city that are worthy of your attention.

I think that the theory of "don't judge after one visit" is for professionals. That is the straight out of Ruth Reichel's books, going back in different disguises. Wear a wig, and go back. (not)

Anonymous said...

No second chance here - why would I, given all the other options in town.

I even have an issue with "pointing it out and giving them a chance to correct it". As far as I am concerned they may just have ruined an evening out for me, why should I bother pointing it out to them and prolong the agony. A free desert does not un-ruin the evening.

Trout Caviar said...

I've also been baffled by the apparent willingness of many people to throw more money at restaurants that treated and/or fed them poorly. I suspect most of the apologists are folks in the industry and not in the general public. So, no, I don't give second chances. Places I know and like, I'll cut them slack if one visit is sub-par. A couple models of quality and consistency in both food and service are Obento-Ya and the original Punch pizza in Highland. I eat at both frequently, give a silent prayer of thanks that this kind of hospitality still exists, and tip generously.

Thanks for hosting this interesting discussion. I've enjoyed reading the other responses.

Brett

Anonymous said...

So - Here is a question - I'm pretty leniant when it comes to restaurants. Unless I'm being obviously lied to (and yes - you can tell), or the food is inedible, I don't outright ban the place. And if they have food I like but there is some other screwup - I may revisit them in the future. But my wife is much much less forgiving of any faux pas and her list is getting pretty long.

My question would be - at what point do you give a restaurant a 2nd chance? 6 mos? A year? Two? A new owner/chef/menu? And don't banned restaurant stories make the best stories? :D

kat said...

Interesting questions regarding when you would give them a second chance. I think if the issue was bad service then a new owner might make me go back. If the issue was food then a new chef might.

Lori said...

I'm with you, Kat. There are way too many good choices out there now to go back to someplace that gave a mediocre first impression. I won't necessarily judge them as being bad on one single visit, but I likely won't be back. Don't want to risk wasting hard earned money.

Amy said...

It really depends on how bad the experience was. If it was truly horrible, I'd never go back. If it was just "bad", I'd probably give it a shot 6 months or a year or more later.

http://alittlenosh.blogspot.com

Amy said...

The same thing is happening with us. A chef in town seems to be the local darling. We had a terrible experience at his new venture and people think we're crazy that we won't go back. With so many great restaurants in the world, why would we?!?!

Lori said...

I do. Nobody's perfect right? Though there are a few exceptions to that rule.

One of my favorite restaurants kinda bombed out on me a few times, with coldish rice and beans. I contacted the restaurant and the owner gave me coupons to come back along with a follow up email some months later. I still go there but I have noticed there have been some fundamental changes.

Foodycat said...

It depends for me - you can usually tell if it is basically good but the chef came in drunk and the only waitress has just broken up with her boyfriend. Those I will give a second chance to. But if it feels like a totally cynical exercise in extorting my money, I will not go back.

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