Dear restaurateur,

The good people at Consumer Reports surveyed 1003 people (I know, why 1003?), in March of this year to find out what customers gripe about when it comes to restaurants. And very few of the gripes are about the food….so listen up! Most of your customers’ complaints are very very fixable. Here they are in order, and I’ve grouped them by color to distinguish between food, service and design issues.

  1. Dirty utensils or table, 76%
  2. Dirty or ill-equipped restroom, 73%
  3. Impolite or condescending servers, 72%
  4. Servers with a sloppy appearance or poor hygiene, 67%
  5. Meals or beverages served at the incorrect temperature, 66%
  6. Meal served not what was ordered, 62%
  7. Feeling rushed by the server to finish or leave, 61%
  8. Server removing plate or beverage before finished, 59%
  9. Food does not look or taste as described in the menu, 54%
  10. Slow service, 51%
  11. Gratuity of 18% or higher automatically added to bill, 50%
  12. Table not ready more than 15 minutes past reservation time, 50%
  13. Inaccurate calculation of check by server, 48%
  14. Tables too close together, 39%
  15. Poorly situated table, 38%
  16. Loud or distracting diners at other tables, 38%
  17. Diners nearby talking or texting on mobile phones, 30%
  18. Servers not bringing water until asked, 27%
  19. Server referring to guests by pet names such as ‘honey’ or ‘dear’, 24%
  20. Server confusion about who gets what meal, 17%
  21. Too much nutritional information, 16%
  22. Not enough nutritional information, 14%

Oh dear….that’s an awful lot of blue. And unfortunately I’ve got to concur, service is a problem much more often than anything else. Servers not caring, servers padding the bill, servers who were clearly never trained to be servers. Please step up the training restaurant owners! I worked front of house for years and know how hard it is and that it’s not for everyone. Don’t do it if you don’t love it, and if you do it, do it well! Speaking as a diner, I’m more than happy to pay for excellent service. That’s why I go out to eat…plus it eliminates that messy kitchen.

And what about number 2? If you’ve been reading me for a while you’ve heard me rant about restrooms. Equip them properly, keep them clean, design them (or call me to help you design them) so that they look like they belong in your restaurant! We care what the restroom looks like, and we presume that if it’s nasty, so is the kitchen.

So there you go….do what you will with this list, but understand that if we don’t come back there’s probably a reason.

Keep in touch,