Archive for the ‘Restaurant’ Category

Service of It’s Dinner Time

Thursday, February 22nd, 2024

We ate dinner at 7 or 8 PM when I grew up and because of work schedules, I segued into similar timing in my own home, inching up to 9 PM on many a night. A bonus: Once he retired, my husband became a spectacular cook.

The pandemic has changed countless habits one of which is the time many white-collar city workers–who are not on a strict nine to five track–eat dinner. Restaurants acknowledge the change: Six PM is the new 7:00 or 8:00 PM crush for reservations in NYC as the city–famous for being insomniac–discovers sleep.

Thanks to the saved commuter time I suspect remote workers who didn’t get home from work until 7 or 8 PM, eat earlier these days too.

I wonder if the time change has altered the dinner table menu. Is less pizza and Chinese ordered in? Are there more home cooked meals? Has your dinner hour changed too?

Service of When “No” Doesn’t Need to be “No”

Thursday, February 15th, 2024

Image of bar stool by Daria Nepriakhina from Pixabay

A rule stickler

An out-of-town acquaintance in her 50s went to a favorite restaurant in NYC near her hotel.  It was late and the moderately expensive restaurant wasn’t full. She asked the hostess if she could sit at a table and the 20-something told her that because she was alone, she could either sit at the bar or in the lounge. She chose the bar even though she doesn’t drink.

She returned for dinner the next night asking a different hostess, an older woman, if she could sit at the bar and the woman asked, “would you prefer to sit at a table?” Hmmm.

Administrator will determine when your appointment will be–not you

At almost the same time another friend got a call that his imminent cataract surgery was rescheduled for a month away. He wanted it over with. He tried to persuade the receptionist to do better. “Not possible,” she said.

During his lunch break he walked over to the doctor’s office and one of the technicians measured his eye and did the pre-op procedure and rescheduled him for two weeks away. He learned that something had come up for the doctor the day he was originally to be operated on.

Is a declaration of “no” and inflexibility a sign of power for some? Do you push back when you hear “no?” Has “no” turned to “yes” more times than not?

Service of Can You Believe This Still Happens? Women Treated Like Second Class Citizens in Restaurants

Thursday, September 7th, 2023

After all the work to secure–and publicity to foster–gender neutrality in the workplace you’d think that some of the fairy dust would have landed in restaurant culture in a city like New York. Apparently, it hasn’t.

A friend who eats out three to five times a week brought to my attention something I’ve noticed on occasion: Women are still treated like second-class citizens in some restaurants.

Just as we were finishing our delicious meal last week, we told the waiter we wanted to bring home what we couldn’t eat. We subsequently overheard a man at an adjacent table say the same thing. We were handed containers to fill with our leftovers. His plate was taken away and the unfinished food was placed in a container–and in a shopping bag–for him.

Ironically, my friend had just shared her experience at a restaurant last week where she was meeting friends—all women. They were ushered to a terrible spot and they asked for another table. Two seats at the second table faced a giant, ugly blank wall. They asked for a third. The host was annoyed and told them—when they asked–that the better tables were for people with reservations. My friend piped up, “I have a reservation!” This doesn’t happen when she’s with her husband.

I had the same experience years ago at a restaurant I’d frequented often with my husband—and never returned after being seated in Siberia next to the bathrooms when celebrating a friend’s birthday without him. I thought we were over this discrimination against female customers behavior especially now that so many of us have expense accounts.

Is such bias a thing of the past where you live or eat or is it alive and thriving?

Service of Perks Denied

Monday, August 28th, 2023

This restaurant charges for [very tasty] bread.

The custom of offering free coffee, iced tea or soda refills has never been universal and differs between communities and restaurants but I’ve always enjoyed it when it happens. In 2010 in “Service of Bonuses” on this blog I remembered books of Lifesavers sent to my mother at Christmas time because she was a stockholder. I’ve never received any goodies from corporations in which I hold stock.

And who doesn’t love encores at a concert?

In The Wall Street Journal Dawn Gilbertson wrote “This Hotel Perk Used to Be Free. Not Anymore. Visitors wanting to check in early or check out late are surprised to find they have to pay up.” It can cost from $25-$150 depending on the venue, she reported.

One of my friends goes nuts when she’s charged for a cup of tap water and ice after she’s bought a substantial number of sandwiches and chips at a deli.

Restaurants used to provide a basket of bread and butter or olive oil with a meal. In many NYC restaurants you must now ask—and pay for—bread and even extra sauce.

Five years ago Beth Landman wrote “The most outrageous restaurant overcharges,” in the New York Post. There’s a notation that the article was updated since 2018 but it doesn’t specify when. Still, you get the idea. She reported:

  • $12 for freshly grated wasabi at Tetsu
  • $2 for a [homemade] marshmallow on hot chocolate at City Bakery
  • $9 per person for bottled water at the Pool
  • $3 for steak sauce at BLT Prime
  • $6 to $7 for bread and butter

My credit card rewards seem to have shrunk while my charges have increased.

Have you noticed that you are now paying for things that once were free?

According to a customer review on Yelp, The Smith offers both still and sparkling water free of charge.

Service of Custom-Made Fast Food at Pain Quotidien

Monday, May 15th, 2023

On my way to pick up a friend who had a few pulled teeth and surgery on her jaw requiring anesthesia, I remembered how she liked the yogurt at Le Pain Quotidien. She didn’t realize what she was in for. The day before she suggested that after the procedure we have tea at this, her favorite place. Knowing we’d not be going for tea after such an ordeal I didn’t want to alarm her, so I said “sure.”

Dashing in to buy some—a last minute thought because there’s very little that she will eat under any circumstance, soft or not–I stopped when I saw the granola on top. I knew that granola would be an insurmountable hurdle for her that day and probably that week. As luck would have it, a young man—Martin–was adding sandwiches and straightening the offerings at the branch on Third Avenue and 44th Street.

This isn’t a deli where the counterman or woman can leave out the onions in a salad or add mustard and mayo to a roll or slice of rye. Salads and sandwiches are made to grab and go. I hesitated to bother Martin and am glad I did. Turns out he is a chef. I asked if it would be possible to remove the granola and explained why. He agreed about the circumstances and didn’t hesitate. He said he’d have to ask the manager about the price and disappeared in the back.

Minutes later he returned with just what I’d requested.

I’m not a fussy eater and have never asked for an adjustment in an establishment like this. I was happily surprised at how accommodating Martin was. Do you have similar examples of custom treatment at a fast-food restaurant?

Service of Kismet or It’s a Small World

Thursday, May 4th, 2023

A friend who, like me, doesn’t answer a phone call from an unknown name or number, did one day. Long story short, the person on the other end of the line became his girlfriend.

Last weekend I went to a smashing performance of Gilbert & Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penzance,” produced by The Blue Hill Troupe. It was magnificent. Founded in 1924, the troupe’s mission is to create enjoyable theater performances for New Yorkers and make money for NYC charities. Members range in age from 21 to 100 and they put on two shows a year. So many actors want to participate that they had two for every major part—the chorus stayed the same– and divided up the performances.

As I arrived early, I spoke with the woman next to me who was there to see her son perform. After a few minutes it was clear she wasn’t from these parts so I asked her where she lived and she said New Hampshire. I mumbled that my stepdaughter lives in New Hampshire. Turns out this woman is the postmaster of that town, population 1,600.

But that’s not all.

There was a two-page spread in the playbill featuring troupe member pets—dogs, cats and a bird [photo below]. I mentioned that I was charmed by it and we began to speak about pets. She said that her son, who lives on the Upper West Side, had taken her to The Black Lab Café for breakfast. Here dogs bring their human partners for coffee and light refreshment. It’s also a great place for those without dogs who long for one to pat or scratch behind the ears. Most four-legged guests play along. Guess what? My New Hampshire-based stepdaughter had sent me a gift card to this café where I recently enjoyed afternoon tea with a friend! According to thecookingworld.com NYC has some 27 thousand restaurants. Some coincidence–right?

Do you have any memorable examples of kismet or evidence of how small our world can be?

Service of “No” IV

Monday, May 1st, 2023


Image by SplitShire from Pixabay 

I haven’t picked up on the “No” series since April 2014. It was time. It’s a word often said or implied but one that should be challenged.

Afterall, we were brought up with the proverb “when at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” weren’t we?

Boost Your Communications Please

My doctor recommended I get the most recent Covid booster available for people 65+, those with diabetes, immunocompromised etc., so I tried to make an appointment on the Walgreens site from my phone and after punching in my zip code learned that I’d have to go to Elmira, N.Y. to get it. That’s 240 miles from me.

I dropped by my local Duane Reade. It’s part of the Walgreens family. The pharmacist told me it would be a few weeks and said none of the Manhattan stores would offer it.

On arrival home, I went online from my laptop. I immediately snagged an appointment for the next day, a Saturday—any number of times were free at a Duane Reade also a few blocks from me. I was prepared to be on a false errand, but I got the booster at 11:30 a.m. as requested.

Deli Delight

On Saturday I ordered sandwiches online from Sarge’s for an ungodly price and chose a pickup time of 11:20 a.m. and arrived precisely then. I was told “15 to 20 minute wait.”

That didn’t suit me. Apart from it being a tiny, overcrowded place with nowhere to wait—it was pouring outside, and I was drenched already–I had somewhere to be and a hard deadline was involved. The restaurant was full and there was only one sandwich man. I ignored the dismissive woman and approached another employee with a worried expression on my face and explained I had to be somewhere and voila! He looked for my order, spoke with the sandwich man who turned to my request.

They’d run out of dark meat turkey, and I wasn’t warned when I placed the order. But that’s another story.

Tour Trouble

After researching the tour options and reading reviews I picked one. But it wouldn’t let me sign on for a single reservation. Surely, that was a mistake. Whether I used my laptop, iPhone or iPad I could only add to the 2 reservations frozen on the form. Discouraged, because I didn’t want to go with 50 others, I finally found one for a small group and the order for one went through! But it took persistence and time.

Plus ça Change, Plus C’est la Même Chose

This is nothing new. I encountered “No” frequently in the day when I was an Air Force wife at an overseas post. That’s where I cut my teeth rebutting the many rejections I’d get to my queries. Eight out of 10 times if I returned to the office or service that was turning me down, or tried another tack, I’d get my wish.

What hasn’t changed

It surprised me then as it does now why people or systems make a person go through a rigamarole to get what they want. Just say “yes” or do what you should or what people want in the first place.

When faced with “NO,” what’s your response?


Image by Frauke Riether from Pixabay 

Service of Easy Fixes for Restaurant & Takeout Places

Thursday, December 22nd, 2022


Image by Mudassar Iqbal from Pixabay 

Inflation is a problem for everyone but here’s a plea to food vendors: Be creative when adding surcharges or removing benefits to customers.

I bought one Danish pastry the other day and paid with my credit card. The gadget that accepted the card asked me three times if I wanted to add a tip. What part of NO did it not understand? I paid top dollar for the treat and didn’t think that placing it in a small bag warranted a tip. I know: It’s the holidays. I’m not usually a grinch. But the prices here are high enough that owners should pay workers a decent wage and not foist on customers the responsibility for paying counter help. In any case, I tip in cash.

A friend who inspired this post resents being charged for ice in a cup when she’s ordering other food. She was hit with an ice charge from a takeout place the other day. I know her: Her orders are never small.

She is miffed when not allowed to use the bathroom. There’s a bakery I like a lot that added tables and chairs in the back. It sells amazing scones and cakes and toothsome sandwiches. It doesn’t have a WC. My camel friends are the only ones I meet there.

While on a roll my friend added that it irks her to be charged $4 to $6 for a soda refill at a restaurant. I agree. Charge a dollar more for the first one if necessary or present them with a can of soda but don’t make customers feel ripped off.

Are there small things that happen when you buy prepared food that tick you off?


Image by Pexels from Pixabay 

Service of Double Check/Confirm or You Could Be in For a Nasty Surprise

Thursday, December 8th, 2022

Confirm or forever hold your peace—this seems to be a crucial strategy these days, another time sponge just when folks are busier than ever.

I went to Williams Sonoma last week to buy something that on the website appeared to be available instore. I know, I should have called. They didn’t have it. (And the store couldn’t be more inconvenient for me to reach. I have only myself to blame.)

I share Nancie Steinberg’s frustrations which were the inspiration for this post. She wrote about two exasperating experiences that happened recently, both involving websites with out-of-date information.

Her examples:

Restaurants post their menus online but when you arrive you too frequently learn that the prices and options listed are different. (And the prices are never less.)

“On a recent trip to Michigan,” she added, “I was referred to a taxi shuttle that was cheaper than a standard cab. It turns out that the shuttle hadn’t updated its website!! The price was not as much of a bargain as that posted on the website.”

I plan to meet friends over the weekend at a restaurant that opens at Noon according to the website but elsewhere on the web I saw 2:00 p.m. –so I called. It’s noon. Do I feel secure about the information?

Have you been snookered by an out-of-date website? How much time do you spend to confirm information?

Online menu

Service of You Can’t Please Everybody: Setting Up People to Fail

Monday, November 7th, 2022


Image by fran1 from Pixabay

The default for some is to criticize and complain. These people frequently set the stage for each situation they gripe about though they would claim that odds are stacked against them. Sometimes employers put workers in an impossible position and even then, these whiners have no pity.

Here’s a perfect illustration. The scene: my apartment elevator. The conversation: between a handyman and a tenant after they’d greeted each other. It was a Wednesday.

Handyman: I haven’t forgotten you.

Tenant: I thought you had.

Handyman: I’ll come this afternoon.

Tenant: I just had a vaccine. I don’t feel that well. Can you come next week?

I bumped into the woman that afternoon and she asked me about the weather and was planning to go out. How sick was she? There are 510 apartments here. Do you think the overworked handyman will remember her issue? I have zero proof but I suspect the woman doesn’t tip. When I submit an online workorder someone comes within a few hours and within minutes if I report a leak. I tip.

Here’s another example of impossible to please. I once had a client who had no respect for women which at the time, I wouldn’t admit and soldiered on even though his prejudice was obvious. In addition to putting me through ridiculous hoops he was verbally abusive and insulting in meetings to the woman who reported to him. With me, he would waste hours asking for press release rewrites. He’d want a word like “the” added, then deleted, then added again. Just before I left the PR agency where I represented his company, I drafted one last release and put as “contact” the name of the man who was taking my place on the account. That was the first and only release this client approved without changing a comma. Only then I admitted that the man had a problem working with women and there was nothing I could have done to appease him. Did I mention that the woman he demeaned in meetings was his girlfriend?

There are many examples of people who are set up to fail: Waitstaff responsible for too many tables; exhausted hospital personnel asked to cover another shift; administrative workers reporting to many overwhelmed executives on deadlines; customer service people who hardly speak English, to name a few. Have you experienced–or observed–other examples?

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