Sunday, June 1, 2008

Help Us Reach Our Goal of Exceptional Service

As you may have seen on our temporary website, one of our main goals is to deliver exceptional service. We are developing our employee training program and will soon begin hiring employees. We know what good service means to us, but we would like to hear about your service experiences and preferences. I am always interested when my friends tell me about little things that restaurant employees do that either impress them or ruin their dining experience. For example, I have a hard time enjoying my meal when it starts off with a rude hostess, followed by a server that takes a long time to greet our table.

What are the things that drive you crazy when you dine out or the special touches that make your dining experience more enjoyable? Please don't post specifics such as restaurant or employee names. We would just like to know all of the things that we can incorporate into our standards to ensure a high level of service quality at Tobacco Road.

13 comments:

Lisa said...

I've only had the pleasure of enjoying the atmosphere at Amra's once before, at a wine tasting (where I ended up purchasing a great bottle for a party), but my friends and I had a fabulous time. The atmosphere was laid back, come as you are, and the staff was very polite (including when I came back a few days later to pick up the bottle of wine).

Looking forward to enjoying the same at this new concept - I'm also a HUGE fan of the name!

Best wishes!

Richard said...

Punctual greeting and service is a must. There is so much competition around your two locations that you obviously have to set yourselves apart in some way. I want to actually feel that my business is appreciated and that my choice of dining or drinking is the right one. I suggest incorporating specials for only a few nights, not every night like other cheap bars. A kind and intelligent doorman/greeter is always a nice touch. Drink samplings offered by the waiter(ess). Smart suggestions for uninformed patrons. Manager/Owner presence around the restaurant. Your cigar system at Amra's is great, so i suggest doing the same at Tobacco Road if cigars are offered. Don't know if you are going along with the trend and not allowing smoking indoors (keep it outside?), but that would automatically make many people a lot more happy.

MBTRAVELWORLD said...

Wow! it is always nice to know when things are going well. The opening of Tobbaco Road Sports Cafe will not only bring the ambiance of AMRA'S; but also a new diverse clientele which we all can appreciate.

Laurie said...

I have 3 main details that I always pay attention to when eating out.
1. My big pet peeve is walking into a restaurant front door and feeling forced to be the leader in greeting the hostess. If I am a customer and have made an informed decision to eat dinner out rather than have a perfectly fine dining experience at home, then I want to be greeted and acknowledged by the hostess. I want that person to take the lead and provide customer service from the start so that I know I am in good hands. Service from that point on is important obviously but often I have found incongruous service between the hostess and the server--I want professionalism throughout my experience!
2. Keeping the bathrooms clean as the night progresses is also something I notice. It is sad to have a wonderful meal with beautiful atmosphere and intelligent wait staff only to go to the ladies room with less than attentive service there. I know things get really busy but there should be someone who can break away to ensure that there is not a huge mess and that there is plenty of supplies.
3. I am picky about a server's pace/personality. Having to wait too long for their greeting or return is just as bad as when they linger too long chatting. Also, checking in too often if there is a serious or lively conversation is very disruptive to my enjoyment. I know there are some really personable and funny servers but I am not paying to go out and befriend them or be entertained by them... I want their personality and professional knowledge to work together and allow my meal to be as pleasant as possible.

Thanks for the great job you are already doing--listening to patrons is a great way to build success.

RonB said...

I agree with the other comments on here...

The greeter/doorman sets the mood for the rest of the visit! Don't make me initiate a dialogue! I walked through the door of *your* establishment, treat me like you are thankful of my choice, not like I am the bad guy for "interrupting" a conversation between the greeter and other staff.

With the wait staff, there is a fine line between being attentive and asking "everything ok" every five minutes.

Once seated, it is nice to get a welcome from the waiter/waitress, a rundown of that day's special food offerings and drink specials (if they are not printed and part of the menu), followed by an offer to take a drink/appetizer order. Related to that, having a well-designed food and drink menu makes ordering easier.

Add decor that respects the local teams (ACC schools, Hurricanes, a little Panthers/Bobcats, etc.) but don't go overboard/tacky with it.

I like the idea of offering non-traditional sports like cricket on the TVs... being a go to place for this Summer's UEFA could be fun!

Amy said...

I hope that you can develop a training program where servers can have a service mentality that goes beyond the tables that they are taking care of for the night and focuses on creating an experience that makes guests want to return. Of course they will focus on the money they make that night but developing a loyal base ensures busy nights in the future. Many servers don't get that. For example, I have often had servers cut me off when I am walking through a restaurant as they hurry back to the kitchen to take care of something. Since I am not at one of their tables, they don't feel a need to be polite to me. I understand that mistakes happen with orders, but there should be no excuse for being treated rudely. Also, if a mistake is made the server should address it. I don't need a free meal in return but a sincere apology would be nice. I've dined out before and had appetizers brought after the entrees--without the server ever saying a word about it. I hope that Tobacco Road management can develop a service mentality among its staff where servers really do care that every guest leaves feeling that they have had an enjoyable dining experience.

Katie said...

Finally! I place where I can bring my friends to watch a game and not leave covered in grease and deaf from all the shouting. One thing that is so important to me at restaurants is keeping people without an empty glass. I have waited so long at other restaurants for a drink refill that I couldn't keep eating because I was sooo thirsty! Not properly wiping down the tables AND seats is another problem with many restaurants. Its the little things that count.

polo8721 said...

tobacco road is the name of your bar and it is going to be non-smoking. Thats a little weird. I do not smoke and I like the new non-smoking places, but this is tobacco country. I think that maybe setting aside an area inside the bar would do just fine.

homegdb said...

Alex, I think your GM should do what you normally do at Amra's...(visibly be present and ensure good customer satisfication). Walk around and ensure your customers in the main dining room are satisfied with their meals. I think it's a key differentiator in a nice restaurant and certainly something you don't see anymore in any level of sports bar.

kandlemom said...

I think it's only a matter of time that more restaurants become smoke free. An outdoor patio would be the alternative for those that care to smoke while out for dinner or game as long as there is a tv on the patio.

mom_of_2_boys said...

Being a mom of 2 boys, it's very rare that my husband and I ever go out alone anymore. When we finally do get a babysitter and the energy to go out, we want our experience to be a great one. One of our favorite places to go is Amra's. The music is great and the service is fabulous and I'm sure that will be no different at Tobacco Road.

Remember the host/hostess is the mood setter for the evening. They should have a great personality, outstanding customer service skills and always a smile on the face.

I love it when I go to Amra's and see one of the brothers there on any given night of the week. I hope that you will have the same presence at Tobacco Raod.

I wish you good luck at your new place.

Kate said...

Be acknowledged when you walk in the door. No one likes to search for a hostess. Getting drinks right away is important and once dinner is served, I like waiters who check in with my table to make sure everything is OK. And, a bathroom that is serviced frequently. Not messy, plenty of paper towels, tp, and clean, is very important. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to comment!

connoisseur said...

Maybe we're not your target customer. We live downtown and grab a beer and a meal downtown at least once or twice a week. We enjoy casual atmospheres where casual attire is acceptable. We're in our forties and not into the bar scene. We're not thrilled with the direction Glenwood Ave. is taking. Our pet peeves are chain restaurants with folks cooking who have no talent or appreciation for good food. We frequent places weekly that offer entrees under $25, that do not have a million items on the menu...we are more interested in really good,fresh, high quality ingredients. We prefer organic and locally grown, but unfortunately that hasn't caught on in downtown Raleigh so we travel to Chapel Hill and Durham for the better restaurants. However, we prefer to support local businesses in downtown Raleigh where we live. We wish you the best of luck...too many places are opening and closing in downtown Raleigh. One suggestion...take a few of Gordon Ramsey's suggestions: simple menus (no more than one page..not a long list of entrees which is a sign the ingredients aren't fresh and it's all processed)and simple food with the freshest of ingredients with price points that make sense relative to the community (your target customer), the competition and the economy. I would love to offer more input...we're desperate for better restaurants in downtown Raleigh. We want businesses to be successful in downtown Raleigh because it protects our real estate investments. BTW..we don't frequent Amras..because it's a bar scene. We like going to a pub or a restaurant for a good beer and a good meal not to be picked up or to be seen. Thanks again for asking!