A Tale of 2 Restaurants

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A Tale of 2 Restaurants

My family and I were on vacation in the U.S. Virgin Islands last week and we had an interesting experience with 2 different restaurants. We started with the Roma Café, our favorite Italian restaurant on St. John. My family loves the ‘Ragin’ Cajin’ entre. It’s a spicy pasta dish with a creamy sherry sauce. I know this doesn’t sound very Italian, but trust me it’s goooood!

We had the same waitress for the last several years and we’ve become quite friendly with her. She informed us that there was a new owner. We inquired about the ‘Ragin Cajin’ and she assured us that the menu hadn’t changed. We felt assured and waited with anticipation since had been over a year since we’d had it. When the waitress brought the dish out, it didn’t look right but we were famished.

William, my soon to be 16 y.o. grandson commented that it didn’t taste the same but ate it anyways. My wife and son in law picked at it. When the waitress stopped by to ask if the meal was OK, they inquired more about the new owner, It seems that the new owner lives in Pennsylvania and bought the restauranrt for his daughter and son, who now run the restaurant. There really wasn’t anything our waitress could do except apologize.

We talked amongst ourselves that they didn’t keep their signature entre the same. Common sense would tell you not to change anything for a year. We sensed the waitress’ concern as jobs are scarce on St. John after Hurricane Irma. If the restaurant doesn’t do well, they could be out of a job.

We didn’t complain and we were prepared to pay the bill. Imagine our surprise when the waitress took the 3 Ragins off the bill ($81). My guess is that she spoke with the owner and they decided to comp us. Now that’s what I call WOW customer service. You see customer service is we ordered 3 Ragin Cajins, we got 3 Ragin Cajins, Thank You very much. WOW customer service is the unexpected gesture that goes the extra mile. Because they made the gesture, we’re willing to give them a second chance.

Our second restaurant experience was quite different, We booked a table for 7 on the balcony at the Terrace reataurant overlooking Cruz Bay to watch the fireworks on the 4th of July. When we got there at 8 o’clock a DJ was playing rather loud Reggae music in front of the restaurant. He had the bass throbbing so loud we couldn’t hear ourselves think, let alone talk. 15 minutes into our stay we all had raging headaches and asked if we could sit inside. The maitre’d apologized as they had no control over the DJ that someone had booked. Sitting inside, we ordered appetizers and wine, they brought us some delicious bread and seasoned butter. It was becoming apparent that the noise was not going to abate and we couldn’t see paying $400 for a meal we would not enjoy. We called our waiter over, apologized and said we wanted to return the next night to have a full dinner. then made a reservation, While we were finishing our appetizers, we asked for more bread and our waiter said she’d have to charge us for extra bread. Interesting, as our appetizers and drinks came to $200. I didn’t thnk too much about it until my daughter mentioned it on the way home. The more I thought about it the angrier I got. We decided that we weren’t going to return the next night. Out of integrity we called to cancel our reservation the next morning. That’s when we found out that the Terrace restaurant would be closed. So, they went through the motions of taking our reservations knowing full well they were closed the next day. So much for customer service. What do you think the chances are we will ever return again? And obviously I’m putting this on tripadvisor.

The Terrace used to be one of our ‘go to’ restaurants while in St. John. Not anymore. Go Figure.

I’m a firm believer in ELITE CUSTOMER SERVICE. I am a general/cosmetic dentist. Consider what I do for a living. I’ve got to convince someone to do something they’d rather not, that’s gonna hurt and cost money. What’s the problem you may ask? It means is that I’d better have my office’s customer service act together. It’s already a given that the dentistry I provide had better be top notch.

Believe it or not in our team meetings we discuss our experiences with customer service at fine dining establishments to help us raise our game.

Think about it, even at the finest restaurants, if you figure the raw cost of the drinks and ingredients for a meal for two, it’s may be $50-60. And yet we are willing to pay multiples of that. The difference between what the raw cost of the food and the actual cost is the perceived value of the experience. Granted, Chef’s have raised their game in the last 20 years, and there’s a lot to be said for the preparation and presentation of these ingredients.

So, what percentage of the experience is the actual food and how much is the customer service that surrounds the meal? My experience is I’m willing to forgive the occasional misstep in the food preparation if the customer service is exceptional. Meaning I’m willing to revisit the restaurant. The same cannot be said when the food is great but the customer service sucks. The lack of attention to customer service says a lot about their attitude towards the people that frequent their establishment.

If you serve the public in any matter, what is your attention to customer service?

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