We speak a lot here on ChefTalk about what constitutes good food and service.
It is very important that we in the culinary community, put our money where our mouths are and take this subject seriously.
Still though, there are still those places that are still stuck in a rut they can't get out of. They cant seem to unlearn old, bad, out of date, habits and re-establish themselves and evolve with the times.
This past weekend I found myself in a small town American staying at a well know franchise hotel chain.
There is only one "fine dining" venue in town and they do it well.
The Chefs are ACF accredited and care very much about what they do.
The place is packed each and every night, so they must be doing something right.
They are not open on Sunday so therein lies the rest of my story...
Decided to take a chance on another hotel's restaurant on the waterfront. The dining room was full but there still were tables available.
I was told there was a 20 minute wait, so I went to the bar and ordered a bottle of wine.
After 20 minutes, I could still see those tables not yet occupied.
To me, this is wasted revenue. Why hold a table when you have waiting customers who want to give you their money NOW, instead of waiting for it later. There'll always be a table "waiting" to be sold.
I decided to eat at the bar and ordered an appetizer, a salad, and entrée.
My salad came. I asked where my appetizer was. I was told that as a bartender, he rarely serves, so he was not aware. I had it sent back. 45 minutes later and still no appetizer. I paid for my wine and left. And by the way, those empty tables were still empty.
Went back to my hotel's restaurant only to find it was closed on Sunday's. Lack of business was the reason.
Back to the car and down the road to a newly renovated and opened Italian place under new owners.
Owner's father is the host. He is like a little plantation slave owner, the way he dictates orders. Yelling out orders in full earshot of the guests.
Multiple tables available but dirty. Girls servicing other guests, no busser, and this old guy just stands by the register shooting the breeze with the drunk at the bar.
I finally get to sit down and order. Antipasto was excellent. Alfredo sauce was simply Béchamel with sour cream added, dumped over barely cooked.....as in super al dente, fettuccine. Meatballs smelled like the back of a goats end...........and the vegetables were the frozen kind and overcooked.
I asked myself what good would going all "Gordon Ramsey" on the place do, except to make myself upset and the jerk at the register could care less anyway.
I don't have an answer to my question as to why places like this seem to thrive.
At many of the places the median age of the guest is about 70 or so.
I believe that puts these people in the population that grew up on mediocre restaurant food before restaurant became more culinary aware perhaps.
Menus are also stuck in a time warp. The food lacks any originality and is the same old thing that's been on the same menu for years.
That first place on the water still used paper tickets. The owners refuse to switch to POS so said the bartender.
I know I am not alone, and that all of you have examples of places just like these near you.
What's it going to take to change the old habits and re-learn?