I know, at least by sight, most of the customers who frequent my restaurants. After all, I have met some of them while they were still being carried in their mothers bellies...
Two couples have been coming to our restaurants EVERY FORTNIGHT for the last TWENTY YEARS bar holidays. Is this a record? I am honestly very flattered, but what kind of a life can it be when you know exactly what is on your agenda every other week?
What happened to spontaneity?
There are also those customers who come to celebrate their anniversary and insist on the same three-course meal every year. "I stick to what I know!"
What happened to the sense of adventure?
One has to really keep an open mind when running a restaurant. After all, if you really dissect the whole concept, it is like inviting strangers into your dining room, day in day out.
The only difference is that they are paying customers who can afford to be critical if your food or service are not up to scratch. On the other hand if they are complimentary, then it means that you've done your job.
My motto has always been:
"The customer is always right...until he's left!"
Within the confines of the restaurant, this has to be the only rule. The worst thing one can do is antagonise a customer. If I am told that a fillet is tough(!?!?) then the fillet is bloody tough and I am changing butchers in the morning!
All that unhappy customers want is to be proved right in front of their partners or guests. And all you need to do is agree with them this once and you've won them for life.
On the whole, over the last twenty two years I have met some great people, from all walks of life, all corners of the Globe... I believe that if you remember to put yourself in the customer's shoes, you are half way there.
The one single thing that sometimes spoils a good evening is when someone says:"So, where do you keep your yacht, then?"
I feel like saying: "If I had a yacht, I'd be on the Med right now, instead of listening to you!" but instead I just smile as I put the money in the till.
I think I should keep a copy of the above photo in my pocket for the next time someone asks that question.
But honestly, when things are right and the sun is shining inside my heart, my job is plain sailing...
(The Royal Yacht Britannia on her way down the River Clyde. Copyright Scottish Media Newspapers)
Labels: Food, life, Travel, Work