An addendum to an open letter to katherine kelly
If you read Friday morning's post, about the hellish, mercury retrograde-tastic disaster of an evening I had at the restaurant last Thursday, you'd most likely assume that we lost a lot of business that night. As anyone who's worked in a restaurant knows, word of mouth is a poweful thing when it comes to the food business: if people have a good time at your restaurant, they tend to tell 3 people; if they have a bad time, they will definitely tell 8. Suffice to say, if just half of the party of 15 that I waited on told 8 of their nearest and dearest about the multitude of snafus that happened during their dinner...well, I'll leave the math on that one up to the Mathematician, but that's a lot of people receiving negative messages about the restaurant that I depend upon to pay my bills.
When I got to work the next day, I was pleasantly surprised to hear the chef/owner's thoughts at our pre-shift meeting: "If it hadn't been for the great personalities of the servers, and their ability to do their jobs so well, I think we'd really have been in trouble last night--so thanks you guys."
I was even more pleasantly surprised to hear the following report from our Assistant General Manager, Emma, who ran into a customer I'd waited on on Thursday while out on the town a few nights later. I remembered him well--he was the English guy who sat at table 12, who was dining alone--I figured he was here on business or something. He was so sweet, and very patient, and miraculously didn't seem perterbed that his food was taking forever and the restaurant was in a state of disarray. I usually like to chat with solo diners, to make them feel welcome in case they are lonely, and kill time with them if their food is taking too long. That night, however, we were all too busy to talk, so the English guy was left to fend for himself, waiting...and waiting...and waiting for his dinner.
I assumed that Mr. England would simply go back to England and forget about us. Boy, was I wrong: as it turns out, Mr. England recently relocated from the mainland to join a local, very famous Boston-based seafood chain as their Very-Important-General-Manager-of-Managers (or something.) He's spent the past month dining out at various places in our fair city, researching food & service, and he was at 647 on Thursday to see how we stacked up. Total nightmare, right? But to my surprise, his report was overwhelmingly positive: Mr.England has apparently been very disappointed in his experience at Boston restaurants thus far, most especially in the quality of service he's received from front-of-the-house staff at restaurants throughout the city. His experience at 647, however, was "wonderful, the best he'd had in Boston to date." He could of course see that we were slammed, and he agreed that the food had taken a bit too long to arrive, but felt the waitstaff were amazing. He said we made him feel very well taken care of, and was very impressed by how we handled ourselves and our customers under such busy circumstances.
Gosh, I wonder what he'd have thought if he came on a reasonable evening?
But my weekend was truly made complete when I saw the one and only katherine kelly of katherine kelly party of 15 stroll into the restaurant for brunch yesterday morning. I had a feeling she'd be back, despite all the problems with her table, but I didn't realize how soon.
When I stopped by her table to say hello, she was as polite as she'd been on Thursday evening, and acted like all of the weirdness of her dining experience on Thursday had never even happened. She also seemed surprised that I was so worried, which kinda made me feel like we were all making a big deal out of something that actually isn't. And so, I was reminded of something that can be very easily forgotten when you're on the other side of the table, when you work as a waitress, and you actually take pride in what you do: At the end of the day, it's just food. It's not rocket science, it's not brain surgery, it's dinner. And no matter what, if the people you are waiting on are nice people, who have souls and good intentions and are actually worthy of your time and energy, they will appreciate your efforts to make them feel taken care of.