w(h)ine free….

Happy 2016 world! I just read a blog post about a restaurant customer who complained about the service she received while the staff was caring for a customer who had suffered a heart attack. Oh dear…in our world of instant communication, some of us should really take a beat before we type. If you haven’t seen this story, head on over to my facebook page.

But speaking of complaining, this time of year always brings the round-up of just about everything. Including dining complaints. So just to keep us all on our toes, check out some of these thoughts. If you see yourself here, maybe it’s time to repair what’s broken in your restaurant and enjoy a whine-free 2016.


Marcia’s list of complaints she calls The Bore. I never find it boring….sometimes a kvetch is kinda fun. This year she’s off deviled eggs (they are everywhere, but I love them so I’m not complaining), too much sunchoke, octopus and bad versions of anything. And bone broth. I agree….WTF? When someone first suggested to me that I keep a batch of bone broth brewing on my counter for THE WHOLE WINTER and drink a cup everyday because my tongue is dry (or something equally odd sounding), it lasted about a week. Then we were all so sick of the smell that I ditched the whole thing. It’s not magic….it’s stock made with bones. And since we customers have all made such a freakin’ big deal about it, we now have to BUY the bones at the store. In the old days the butcher gave them away!

parti* notes

Another of Marcia’s complaints is rectangular plates. I get that…they don’t fit well on the table. The shape of the plate doesn’t bother me so much, but the size is important. When you design your restaurant, dear owner and/or chef, please please please purchase plates and tables that work together. When you lay out your restaurant for maximum customer bodies, remember that to get all of those butts in chairs you had to shrink your tables down to 24″ x 24″. That’s a cocktail table. Which is fine if you are putting cocktails on it and a single dish in the middle to hold the nuts. It is not fine if you are putting 4 plates on the table, plus bread plates, cutlery, a water glass, a wine glass and a candle. IT IS NOT FINE! Do not purchase your dishware until you have laid it out on a table and see that it fits. It might mean you need bigger tables, it might mean you need smaller dishes, or maybe it will mean both. Think about these things. Or you will piss off people like me who will never return to your establishment.

cocktail table

this is a cocktail table

these are dining tables. don’t be confused. they are NOT interchangeable.


Friends of eater have a lot to say about what needs to change. Prices, service (that was my rant last year and I’m afraid it still holds), tip confusion, noise. This one bears repeating. As our population ages and our senses dim, noise will become an even bigger issue. When you design your restaurant, or even after it has opened, deal with your acoustics! Yes, you will need to hire someone. And I know you are broke because you are trying to open a restaurant. But if you want to succeed, this is more efficiently dealt with before opening. If you’re already open, take care of it now, while you still have customers.

and then there are the customers

ifyoucantaffordtotip posts hilarious stories from restaurant employees about their customer complaints. I’ve waited on those people! It’s worth a look when you need to have a laugh at someone else’s expense. But honestly, in all my years in the restaurant business, only a few customers, out of hundreds or thousands, were really awful complainers. And only one left me with a story that I still tell. So honestly, most of the people I’ve waited on or dined with show good manners. And most, or at least many, complaints are worthy of a review to see if there is something that can be made better by listening.

Enjoy your dining in 2016!

Keep in touch,