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Watch Your Attitude

So many restaurants spend money on publicity and then practically chase customes away by the owner's attitude.Stop to think, please, who is really more important, yourcustomers, your chef or your own cost-saving ideas? True, youhave to keep your chef happy but not if he refuses to cook whatthe customer wants and you, Mr. Restaurateur: what good issaving a few cents here or even a dollar there, if the customernever returns?

No names here to protect the guilty, but if you recognize your-self, you're guilty! Awhile ago a friend and I had dinner at arestaurant I had passed. (Thankfully not a client.) It wasFrench and it seemed charming. The owner greeted us, seated usat a nice table and we looked around. On a Saturday night, theplace was practically empty.

We ordered and my entree was not as well done as I had orderedit. No one approached us to ask how we liked dinner so I keptquiet and ate it since it was obvious things were not runningsmoothly in the kitchen or the dining room.After dinner and over coffee, I was smoking a Gauloise, theowner came over (by now we were the only diners left), asked ifhe could join us and smoked with us. I told him about myentree not being well-done enough and, to my astonishment, hesaid, "it's lucky for you the chef has left for the nightbecause he would kill you if he heard you say that." I asked,"who's more important, a customer or the chef?" and theowner replied, "the chef, of course."

When we left, I told my friend if the restaurant lasted morethan six months, I'd be amazed. Well, I passed by aboutsix weeks later, and, you guessed it, they were closed.

A few years earlier I passed another seemingly charmingrestaurant. A friend and I were looking for a place for dinner and decided to try it. The owner approached us immediately,seated us and explained that the restaurant had just opened and didn't yet have a liquor license. So, he was pouring a glass of wine for everyone free of charge. I had a small glass and we looked at the prix fixe menu.Among the appetizers was fresh fruit although I had somethingelse. With my entree I asked for another glass of wine. Theowner refused even though 1) my friend hadn't had any wine atall and 2)this was jug wine and a glass cost him 25 cents tops.

We enjoyed our dinner (the food was good) and laughed over the owner's attitude. When time for dessert, I said insteadof the desserts, I wanted the fruit listed under the ap-petizers. Again, the owner refused, saying I couldn't havetwo appetizers. I was so annoyed I told him he knew nothingabout running a restaurant and shouldn't even be in a business dealing with people. For spite I ordered cake andthen didn't eat it, but smashed it with my fork so he couldn't serve it again. With his attitude, I'm sure hewould have! P.S. Within a month he, too, was out of business.I doubt he even had time to get a liquor license.So here we have two restaurateurs who knew nothing aboutpleasing customers. Why did they even go into business whenthey were so penny-wise and pound-foolish?

One time I was in a well-known steakhouse. I ordered thesteak and explained that I only eat meat when it's very well-done. "The chef won't make it that way," the waiter saidin a huff. I asked to speak to the owner and asked him whether he was concerned about his diners' pleasure. He saidyes, but...and I decided not to order steak and never toreturn.

As a publicist, I have often been in a client-restaurantwhen a waiter missed an opportunity to please a customer,usually because the waiter didn't care. I would immediatelyrise from my table, speak to my client who would rectifymatters and the diner was happy and likely to return. Truth-fully, no client of mine would ever act like the aforementioned restaurateurs.

Too often restaurateurs forget this is a service businessand you have to please your customers.

Miriam Silverberg is founder and owner of Miriam SilverbergAssociates, a publicity firm in New York City and has extensiveexperience working with restaurants. She can be reached

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