I recently paid a visit to a local newly reopened garden centre that has undergone a major capital expenditure and boasts a new restaurant called “Kitchen”.
Now call me old fashioned but to me a restaurant is one where one expects a level of service and there now seems to me a real movement in these type of places to make the experience totally devoid of all service.
We the customer are herded into slow moving dithering lines bombarded with choice and herded like sheep to a till where there is a lack of social interaction with the customer as they are tasked to fleece you of your money as quickly as they can.
The amount of money they have spent here to make the place look stunning and it has given it a real sense of theatre but the one thing lacking was for me a real basic. Service.
I absolutely abhor the self service concept these and many like minded places adopt and their argument is they are cheaper to run as staffing levels are less. Well as a customer I can tell you they are totally wrong.
From the moment we arrived they had staff plentiful all looking as though they were busy but the whole concept was flawed as they did little to direct the customer as to how to order their food. A small queue to pay at a till ensued and the hot food ordered duly got cold – another pet hate.
They were not that busy and I could imagine it would be carnage when they are.
The local butcher that has a major concession within the food hall showcased his sausages on the menu and whilst they might look good they were pretty average and tasteless. Items in the food hall that tempted my wife could not be purchased and eaten in the restaurant… where’s the logic in that?
My wife in a wheelchair had no way of independently gathering her desired purchase and payment as there was no where to place her tray – obviously no thought had been given to this sector and for that matter for a single parent with young children as well would similarly struggle to collect their food and make payment.
An open plan kitchen revealed a plethora of staff and management seemed to be visible and hands on but for me it all lacked a soul or character. It looks fabulous but failed to deliver a memorable experience. If it had been mine a smaller menu and full table service approach would have made this place something to be proud of and very memorable.
It can be done, they should look at a place not that far from them called the The Twig and Spoon. It very nearly went the same route but a last minute ownership decision to provide full table service meant they have created something far more pleasurable and commendable than yet another self serve nondescript cafe.
Who ever makes these decisions might think on paper they look good but operationally they need to think the process through as to what sort of customer service do they truly offer.
They have totally missed an opportunity to provide a unique and I am sure very profitable eating establishment…maybe one day they will learn or perhaps there will be customer revolution and the masses will rise up and boycott them… then again!