It was not me but the co-owner of a nice restaurant, the wait staff, and the restaurant's wine buyer who separately complained to us about the state of business at their upscale restaurant during dinner there the other night. Makes for a less than fun evening.
A little background: We frequent this place all the time, normally have only good things to report, rated them highly on Yelp and for Zagat. Something has changed, perhaps the economy, the realization that the folks are not streaming in as they used to for a forty dollar alacarte fish entree, or that things are not that good for the New Year's Eve bash they've planned.
I guess the issue is simple--we all know that times are tough. We all know that more economical choices are out there, but felt this was a special treat for one night, even a mini-budget buster, and tried it. The complaining did not enhance the meal of the experience, and that's too bad.
Has anyone else been given the "woe is me" speech anywhere while dining? Hope not but just curious.
Interesting that you should share that observation!
We had similar experiences two out of the last three nights in Nashville at two very nice places. New Years Eve, at Opryland's, Old Hickory Rest., where it was slow. Likewise, last night at a highly recommended, Jimmy Kelly's Steakhouse, where the staff seemed to be lackluster, due to business "Slowness".
The independent owners had better "Seize" the opportunities now, and stay ahead of the chains (Which tend to respond to market changes much slower), that it is going to be really tough for upscale places to survive in 2010.
As you indicated, there are just too many choices for people to spend $100, without drinks, today. Likewise, we want to feel "Welcome", in a nice place, not just "In the staff's way"!
Seems endemic to places these days. Interestingly in New York and Washington DC as well as other vacation spots we've frequented, the complaints, if there were any, were kept to themselves among the staff. I worry that the complaining is also part of a larger skimping on the part of the kitchen, and that's not good.
I have had the unpleasant experience of hearing the "woe as me" stories. I don't know if the staff is looking to get a better tip or just annoy me. Actually, it makes me not want to come back. When I am dining out, I want to enjoy the atmosphere. I don't want to hear anyone complaining!! It reminds me of the beggars on the street.
The managers should survey the customers to see if they are hearing these types of stories. If you are hearing this from the MANAGER, you should not return to the restaurant. I feel that shows a lack of professionalism on their part; as well as a lack of appreciation for their job and the company they represent.
At the Common Man Restaurant in Concord, NH it's the opposite. Common Man is among a handful of places that received a Best Place to Work Award. Happy servers enthuse customers. No one expects an attitude when you go out to eat. Although the FI had several recommendations, two of which we explored, we opted to return to Common Man a second night.
The motivation was twofold. First, the menu offering, service and atmosphere exceeded expectations on Saturday night; second, 50% of the amount spent on food was being donated to the local Red Cross to support the rescue and rebuild effort in Haiti. To that point, a Red Cross staffer thanked us as we entered saying, 'Thank you for supporting the Red Cross'. And, there were several Red Cross staff members dining near our table.
More than gimmick, Alex Ray, Common Man's founder is philanthropic. Based upon our server's comments, Ray spends alot of his time volunteering and supporting non-profits. Far from being common, Alex Ray is distinguished as recipient of the National Restaurant Association’s 2009 Cornerstone Humanitarian Award.
In the hardest of times, the Common Man founder, Alex Ray provides an excellent model for leadership. Rather than complain, 'Woe is me', Alex Ray sees an opportunity to give back and his employees AND his business make evident that doing the right thing pays off, IMHO.