On a recent Monday night, my husband and I took an old friend who was visiting from California to the bar/lounge at 11 Howard Hotel. The decor is great, and it has a nice bar menu, but the service was literally “in the toilet.” There was only one waitress on duty, and she was more interested in chatting with the cute bartenders than serving guests. The bar was not full, with perhaps only 6 occupied tables, meaning that service attendance should have been fine.

We experienced the opposite. When we walked in, the waitress came right over and took our order and everything seemed fine. We asked for water and everything went downhill from there, and forget about trying to get a second round of cocktails and some appetizers. We tried to hail the waitress a few times, but she kept looking away. It wasn’t until I stood up and walked towards her that she came toward me and asked, “How can I help you?” What?! How can you help? I thought you worked here! Naturally, I didn’t say this out loud, but it was rattling around in my head as I tried to order a second round of drinks in the middle of the bar/lounge.

The drinks came pretty quickly, as did the appetizers, and we chatted with our friend until it was time to go. Then, we tried to flag the waitress down for the check, but there was no reaction whatsoever. Yet again, one of us had to stand up and grab her, because she was too busy chatting with the cute bartenders!

We finally managed to pay, and we walked out talking about how f’d up the service was and wondering why the hell it was so difficult to get the check and pay!

The fix: Train your staff to keep an eye on the customers and not look down at their feet, mobile phones, or cute bartenders all the time. Make them walk around the room regularly and ask patrons questions, such as “Are you enjoying your drink/appetizer/food?”
A more aggressive method would be to ask the staff to leave their mobile devices in a locker room or wherever they store personal property during a shift.

I grew up in Iceland and was so athletic that my parents actually thought I was a unstoppable dancing, jumping, biking kid with way to many visits to the ER. My visits to the ER were so frequent that I was created with my first name when I arrived (some of the visits I can’t remember as I was unconscious). I played Valley Ball and was a professional gymnast and one time, I fell off the balance beam during training and landed on my back, bruising it from the tailbone all the way up to my shoulders, and the doctors said, “Oh, no! Not you again – when are you going to stop?”

I wasn’t the only kid that had experienced various injuries. All of the kids in my ‘hood” were active in sports and we loved to run around exploring the streets of Reykjavik and of course going to the countryside and exploring nature, which meant sometimes we’d bruise, break or cut ourselves and end up in the ER. No fuss, it just happened and no one would get upset with anyone or anything.

Where am I going with this? Fast forward to 2017. I no longer see kids with stitches on their foreheads or lips, or casts on their arms, legs, or fingers, or even bruised knees and toes for that matter. Does this mean that the parents don’t allow their kids to play and explore anymore? I’m not sure, I don’t see a lot of kids playing outside in NY or for that matter NYC…

The fix: Parents need to let kids be kids. Let them discover the world and let them play.
Fly your helicopter somewhere else.

No matter where or how posh the gym, price, member club, swimming pool, the overall locker room situation in this country is a disappointment. I really believe that the locker rooms in most cases are an afterthought and were probably given the least square footage in the spatial diagram (if they were even drawn up).

Let’s start with the locker itself, which is present in all gyms, luxury or non-luxury, yoga clubs, cycling clubs, bar method studios, pools, etc. They are always too tight and stacked too high. I’m 5′- 8″, and in some cases, I can’t reach the hook to hang my clothes up!

Then there are the restroom/bathroom facilities that are often placed right in the middle of the locker room and are not closed in. Meaning if someone is taking a number 1 or 2 everyone in the locker room can hear it and smell the “shit” coming out! I find this most annoying when I’m in the shower with my favorite body and hair care products and having to smell someone else’s urine or feces.

During high traffic hours, it is annoying trying to rush in and out of the locker rooms as everyone has multiple agendas and there isn’t enough space. People are blow drying their hair, spraying products under their arms and in their hair, and all this is happening in close proximity, where everyone is less 2 feet away from each other. Yuk it stinks!
No wonder some guests/members get aggressive and decide to spit on you or “accidentally” take something that isn’t theirs. This is called frustration…

The fix: If you’re planning to open a recreation/gym or a pool and make your costumers happy and enjoy their work out without any fuss, please do this:
Create a comprehensive business plan and figure out how many customers you need at high and low peak hours to be profitable. Then work out a schematic floor plan for the main recreation area, the locker rooms, bathrooms, break rooms for staff, and the reception area (in that order).

My favorite vendor for bags and anything retail-related invited me and my partners and friends to spend a Friday summer afternoon at his absolute favorite drinking hole in NYC.

We sat in the tea room. It was quite posh and proper with rose arrangements that were out of this world (to which my friend remarked that he was having sex with them as he stuck his finger into a rose ball arrangement). The food and drinks were superb and the staff was super kind and attentive for the first 2 hours, but then suddenly something snapped. One of our partners joined us at the 2 hour mark, and ordered a burger and a drink. We all ordered another round, and when the drinks arrived, they got randomly placed on the table so that we had to rearrange the drinks ourselves. Not a big disaster, but I wondered what went wrong, considering the service had been impeccable 30 minutes ago. Then, after trying to get the waiter’s attention to find out what was taking the burger we ordered so long, we found out that it was never put into the “system,” due to a shift change! We didn’t say anything nasty, but we shared a questioning look: did the previous waitress take it home? What happened? Or does no one communicate/report to each other when leaving or coming to work?

The fix: Team effort is key. Management needs to train their staff that communication is the key to flawless service and that it’s important to take pride in what they do. Pushing shit under a rug isn’t going to flush – it stays and starts to stink.