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.