Category: Tips & Guides

Restaurant Deal “Benders”


Recently, I read an article published by Zagat – the company whose “members” review restaurants (among other businesses), entitled “Restaurant Deal Breakers: 10 Things That Will Make You Never Come Back”.

It was a good read, particularly because I’ve lived on both sides of that particular equation, having spent a great deal of my career (as well as my personal life) as both a restaurant chef and as a restaurant patron.

Interestingly, many, if not all, of the 10 deal breakers mentioned in this article were both unforgivable and easily fixable by the restaurateur because ALL of them (unlike airline disasters) were “restaurant pilot” and not mechanical errors. That is, they’re human issues, things that the people who are “piloting” the restaurant and its employees can correct to prevent the business from crashing, and in many cases, without spending a dime.

Smells can be controlled, there is a volume knob on the music, there is no shortage of soap and management can be professional, just to mention a few.

What’s the cause? 

What it mostly boils down to isn’t ignorance.

They know what to do.

It’s indifference–the lack of “will” to actually do it.

And in many of these cases, ownership and management show little regard for setting a good example to lead the way.

Restaurant employees reporting to work rarely walk through the front door but instead walk past the same smelly garbage that customers see (or smell). And you can bet that management that has the audacity to be belligerent with a customer is just as likely to be so with its employees.

These same employees are then expected to be the happy and professional “face” of the business out in the dining room. You see, ownership and management can sometimes fail to realize or remember that employees are their business’ greatest ambassadors. The old adage “charity begins at home” has never been truer.

As you might imagine, when I’m dining out, my antenna is up and my head is on a swivel. And nothing annoys me more than unprofessional “antics.” If fact, I can tolerate bad food more than bad “acting” i.e. acting like they’re really “there” or acting like they really “care.”

That, to me, is borderline “personal.”

So, what drives me crazy?

Well, a lot of things actually, but when it comes to dining out in restaurants, I could easily add 10 of my own “Deal Benders” to the 10 “Deal Breakers” in the Zagat piece.


My 10 restaurant deal benders include:

  • Management disciplining its staff in front of you or within earshot.
  • Overhearing two employees berating a customer.
  • An employee vacuuming the dining room while you’re still dining IN THAT SAME ROOM!
  • Dirty, obviously soiled menus.
  • Anyone (especially employees) clapping when a tray of dishes is dropped.
  • Graffiti in the bathroom.
  • Lipstick on supposedly “clean” glassware.
  • Any employees I overhear saying, “I can’t wait to get the #@!*# out of here.”
  • Restaurant employees who are using the same bathroom as the guests (especially during the dinner dining period.)
  • People who can’t help you because “it’s not their area.”


What drives YOU crazy out there in “Restaurant World?” I’d love to know.

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