Malls offer different dining options for customers. Every corner offers different cuisine type, different atmosphere and vibe suitable for all types of mall-goers with different tastes and different budgets. But set aside all the type of cuisines first, mall-goers usually choose between casual dining or fast food (very rare do we get fine dining restaurants in malls, do we?) before they fine tune their cravings according to what their palate dictates.
There are people like me, who are not as adventurous as other diners. I really don’t try out new restaurants or new cuisine unless and until there’s something so extravagant about it that everyone’s raving about or at least there’s something to die for. Other than that, I’ll stick to my usual choice. Either a restaurant that I have been dining in for some time already or if my same old restaurant is not within the vicinity, I’d go to any Italian or Pan Asian restaurant or sometimes but very rare, I’d also go to an American Diner.
To sum it up, I’m a loyal customer. I’ll always come back to a particular restaurant for a particular food and most often than not, I’d order the same old stuff. Then there are times when I’d come back to a restaurant for other reasons. Either the ambiance is too cozy for me to hang out or I like the service.
I think this is where the problem lies with loyal customers like me, or if we are the problem at all.
Going back to the same restaurant over and over again makes me notice the decline of the food or service or sometimes the opposite – it’s not, anyway, negative all the time.
Waiters nowadays become just mere order takers rather than F&B Professionals. They’d greet you whenever they see you, if you’re lucky enough to be seen by one upon entering the restaurant.
They’d hand you the menu and place the special of the day placard in front of you without even explaining what the specials are.
Gone were the days when they’ll introduce themselves and explain the soup of the day and inform you which items are not available so you’ll not drool over it while browsing through the menu only for you to find out in the end that it’s an 86 item.
Gone were the days when they know the menu by heart and they know what to suggest when you ask them what’s their signature dish.
All they do today is take your order, punch it in the POS system, wait for the kitchen call and place the plate on your table and you are off to yourselves. I used to complain about the intrusiveness of some waiters before as they try to communicate with you while you are eating. They do this specially to lone diners. But this was few years ago. And I have to admit that now, now that this type of service seem to be deteriorating, I am starting to miss it.
Nowadays, they don’t even ask if you are happy with the food that you got on your table. They don’t do the “check back in two bites” anymore unless they have their managers around. They won’t check on you unless you start complaining.
The services in the casual dining restaurants are now declining (or at least in some restaurants that I know of). I understand that if I want a silver service, I should go to a Michelin Restaurant and pay a fortune. But hey, why would I go to a casual dining restaurant and pay more if the service staff of fast food chains offer better services?
I’m not sure if I am just lucky enough to encounter rude service staffs here in Dubai and in the Philippines but I really think, services in several casual dining restaurants are becoming lousy.
Let me share here in bullet points some of my experiences and let me know if you’ve shared the same agony:
- A waiter was taking our orders and his eyes were glued on one of his colleagues. He’s making gestures, like he is communicating something to his colleague while I was telling my orders and I had to stop talking just to let him know that he needs to listen to me or maybe at least pretend to (this happened in one of the Asian Restaurants in SM North)
- A waiter took our orders and placed the cutlery on the table afterwards. He moved the salt and pepper shakers towards the other end of the table and there are sauce marks on the area from where the shakers previously stood. He saw it (or I think he saw it) but he did nothing. I wiped the sticky sauce with the tissue paper, then I crumpled it and placed it at the center of the table just to check if he will remove it or if he will even notice it. He served our dishes without even removing the crumpled tissue on the table. (This happened to me in one of the Italian Restaurants that have branches in most of the malls in Dubai and Abu Dhabi). After serving our food, he never came back to us till we as for our bill. He was happier chatting with the bar staff than checking his guests. This used to be one of my favorite restaurants but now, I dread even coming close to it and the only time that I visit this restaurant is when I don’t have any other choice.
- We were waving like drowning people on the beach just to get the attention of wait staff chitchatting by the reception area (this happened in one of the Casual Dining Restaurants in Deira City Center, one of the most popular and longest running American Diner)
The only thing common now about these waiters / service staff is that they all become nicer when they are about to hand you your bill or if they want you to fill in the comment cards.
I completely understand that service staff are all humans too, therefore after almost eight to ten to twelve hours of work, I wouldn’t expect them to be as energetic as they were by the start of their shifts. However, this is what people need to understand before signing up in the F&B Industry. No matter how tired they are, as long as they are in the restaurant, they need to provide the service that the diners came and paid for.
If you as a casual dining restaurant can’t deliver the service that you market, and the service that people expect when they walk in your door, then maybe you need to think about changing your concept from a casual dining restaurant into a fast food outlet.
Revisiting your services or conducting refresher service trainings won’t hurt your restaurant at all.