I was having a discussion with my Sous Chef the other day about what was more important for a restaurant, the food or the service. While we both agreed that a restaurant that has great food will make up for poor service and a place with bad food will not be saved by great service I was wondering what everyone else thought. I am particularly interested to see if having worked in the industry will affect your point of view. I personally have been to places where the food was great, but the service was less than stellar. Because the food was so good, it made up for the service and I have been back.
Food vs Service
Poll Results: Which is more important to a restaurant, food or service?
50% (6)Food. I would go back if the food is good or great even if the service was not.
8% (1)Service. If they treat me right, I will go back regardless of the food.
41% (5)Both. If they fail at either, I am not going back.
0% (0)Neither. I go to a place for other reasons.
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I never voted - as
Your question is missing a parameter.
The cost of said food.
It is the great equalizer.
Billions of people have chosen crappy food with pretty much no service time and time again - McD's (etc.)
As a Chef if I go to a place and get crappy food - I often leave without eating it.... I also will leave without ordering if the service is crappy also.
It makes me very nervous about food quality and cleanliness in the BoH if the owner / manager can't give a damn about what the customer experiences / see's upon walking into the place!
Personally I don't generally try a new place until I have 'heard' a lot of feed back on it - one of the perks of working in a restaurant is you get to hear and talk with so many people.
Now all that said - i'm almost always willing to give that made-from-scratch street vendor a chance if I hear their food is good - no matter what the service / atmosphere is like. I do tend to hover in the distance and make an evaluation on hygiene first though... and apply any observations to the type of food being served.
I have to admit to eating a lot in little ethnic holes in the wall where the service is pretty awful and communication is challenging but the food is amazing. I always go back for good food. There's one South Indian place I've been going to for 20 years where the service has always been slow, inattentive and sometimes verges on rude but the masala dosas are to die for. I'm not sure what they'd have to do to drive me away.
On the other hand, one mediocre meal will put me off a restaurant for good, no matter how stellar the service is.
I was a server in a former life.
I think you are posting a question to a pretty biased study group. There have been studies done in the past by consulting groups and maybe even the NRA (can't remember who exactly), asking the same question. Those surveys consistently seem to suggest that service is more important than food to the average restaurant customer.
My theory on why that is, is that the average customer can't recognize "great food". You mentioned you thought that good service can't make up for bad food. I would point to Applebees and Hooters and say there are a million chains like them that would prove that assumption wrong. One thing you won't find though, is a successful chain with consistently bad service. You can get people to pack your seats serving dried out, bland grilled chicken breasts on a bun with two pickles and a pile of cold fries if it is served to you by flirty, semi-attractive females that treat you well and keep your beer full. Staff that same restaurant with balding, overweight, middle-aged male servers with bad attitudes though, and it won't matter how great the food is, no one is going to come.
Asking cooks and chefs whether food is more important than service isn't going to get you an objective feel for the truth. Of course we all think "great food" is the most important aspect of running a restaurant. Thing is, the general public doesn't know what "great food" is.
Edited by Brandon ODell - 6/24/13 at 10:16pm
Ain't that the truth, eh?
2 buck pop-eye's fried chicken dinners anyone?
All you can eat buffet dinner for 8$ in a strip mall?
I went with food being the primary. I do have a low tolerance for "terrible" service, like if I sit for 15 minutes without a server even bringing water. Or a particular pet peeve of mine is if I order an app and ask just because I know it can be an issue "the app will come out first, right?" and then they bring the main course and the app shows up 5 min later - that pisses me off bad. But for good food I forgive.. I'll come back and try again.. if the service is garbage every time eventually I'll just find some other place.
One of the best was this place in town my friends raved about. I went during my lunch break, you order and pay then they are supposed to bring you your food. 10 min, 20 min, 30 min (friends have their food at this point) and I express concern to our server, 40 min - at 50 minutes I said look.. I have to go back to work now and I don't appreciate that I never got to eat. They tried to find my ticket.. gone. In my opinion the server didn't even take a concern with me not getting my food.. that place is now out of business.