There are few of us standing in the middle of the crowded restaurant world who do not pray, hanker and hope for continuous busy lunch and dinner shifts. Whether an owner, waiter, busser or chef, restaurants operate better and their staffs hit all cylinders when they are packed with customers. When drifting along with sporadic customer counts restaurants tend to falter and eventually fail. This of course occurs due to a variety of reasons, most having to do with the staff’s inability to keep its eye on a slowly pitched ball.
At a recent newspaper conference at the Philadelphia Hyatt at Penn’s Landing I decided to have lunch at Keating’s River Grill the Hyatt’s restaurant overlooking the
An attractive venue, and as most travelers realize, Hyatt Restaurants usually serve above average hotel food. After ordering our lunch my three guests pointed out that another table had abruptly left without ever being served their order. One of the guests, another convention attendee, told the manager that “everyone in the dining room had been served – many who had ordered after him- and that they had run out of time and would never be back.
Although somewhat dysfunctional the dining room was managing to get the food out without many hiccups. We all know the occasional glitch occurs and other missteps often follow, yet what happened at the Keating’s the following day was unbelievable and unforgiving for any real restaurant.
Once again lunch called. Instead of going off premise my three companions and I decided too enjoy the view and food at Keating’s once again. I enjoyed my luncheon omelet the previous day and thought I might double up on the sure bet.
Approaching the packed dining I noticed a line waiting for tables. The conference above was hosting 200 plus newspaper publishers and associates and the break between sessions was 90 minutes. The restaurant seats approximately 125 people. We were immediately offered a table and presented with a paper menu offering four luncheon items. Each guest had the choice of a Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich, a Chicken salad Brioche Sandwich or two salads. A far cry from an omelet or any other choices on the previous day’s regular menu.
When I asked the host if I could have the regular Keating’s lunch menu she said they were not serving that. She claimed, when asked why, that the restaurant was short of staff and that made it impossible to serve a regular menu.
I inquired as to why a company, as large as the Hyatt corporation could not fulfill a simple task of serving a menu that was put into place months ago. She quickly summoned the manager.
The manager proceeded to tell me that we could certainly get the regular menu and that the mini menu was implemented so the restaurant could accommodate the guests in a timely manner.
An excellent recovery for a blunder that should be bannered above every kitchen in the country.
If you cannot serve the customer your regular menu, daily, why implement it?
Is there suddenly a new trend in dining to have two menus- a busy menu and a slow menu? The busy menu will only be used when the eatery is approaching the position of packed house while the slow menu will be used when the place is almost empty.
I have given this serious thought and it isn’t a bad concept. On paper it works perfectly assuming that most blunders are made when resturants are busy. Yet, this is actually not the case. Most blunders are observed while restaurants are slow and drifting.
It is a very sad day in the business when a company the size of the Hyatt has to alter its plan and develop a mini menu. Corporations of that size are built for volume. To have to initiate an alternate plan in order to accommodate a group of conference attendees is less than professional. If you can’t cook the menu when you’re busy, eventually you will be slow enough to master it.