Nici Wickes: Don't mind us, we're just your customers

By Nici Wickes


Oh, don't mind us, we're just your customers.

It feels as though some eateries may be forgetting that. I've never been the "customers are always right" kinda girl, even during my decades of being a business adviser. Yes, it's important for business owners to listen to their clients and to show a keen interest in their wishes and demands but looking for "patterns of wants" is far more important for longevity than bowing to any individual's needs. I get that.

Yet when I turn up at a busy, casual, fast-paced restaurant the other night I couldn't help but feel like we're losing the middle ground where gratefulness and generosity used to live, where, indeed, hospitality is derived.

I'd lost track of whether this particular restaurant was of the no-bookings or bookings type but I'd figured as it was only 6pm (i.e. hopefully before the main dinner rush) and we were only two, we might be okay.

Hostess (I'd call her a maitre d but she was dressed more like a hooker): "Have you booked?" she barks.

Me: "Ah, no."

Hostess: "You can sit at the bar," she yaps.

We did try, but it was draughty and the high stools offered no comfort, we just needed to be lower to the ground. Besides, there were plenty of regular seats in the dining room.

"Could we sit in the dining room, we'll be quick?" I offered meekly. I cringed at the pleading in my voice.

"You'll have to be finished by 8.15," yap yap.

We sat, we ate, we were done by 8.12pm. The service was terrible (erratic and lazy), the food was gorgeous but I left with a bad taste in my mouth. I may not always be right, but I don't need to feel that wrong either.


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