Last weekend, Keith and I went out to eat at a popular Australian themed steakhouse with a gift card we had received during the holidays. Regardless on how you rate this particular franchise, the company does a great job driving in the crowds, so as is typical for a Saturday night, the parking lot and entryway we're packed. (Marketing Team: 1 point). We put our name on the list and were informed of a 45 minute wait before we would have a table and quickly headed over to the bar to have a cocktail and appetizer as we waited.
Finding spots right at the bar, we sat down and looked over the bar menus. They're stylistic pieces with fantastic photos of libations that look tantalizing in their frosted glasses with bright fruits and frosty heads. Well engineered, the marketing collaterals quickly led Keith to find fun shareable concoctions of moonshine and fruit served in a giant mason jar shaker...just the sort of creation he knew I would enjoy. (Marketing Team: 2 points, Boyfriend: 1 point).
Putting down the menus we finally had a chance to take in our surroundings as we waited for the bartender to take our order. As I sat there, I had the quiet realization that it would likely be awhile. Not because they were overwhelmed but because they lacked organization, discipline and attention to detail.
Signs of mismanagement...
As restauranteurs will tell you, a full bar (meaning one with a full liquor license) can be an amazing economic engine with even the smallest footprint and well-trained staff. When done right, a constant flow of drinks with a healthy margin can be created and poured from just a few square feet of well-stocked shelves and organized counter space. They can also enhance the experience and further emerge your customers into your brand and communicate a certain level of quality and care. Ideally, you should have the same high expectation of you bar and bartender as you do of your kitchen and and chef. But this is not what I saw.
As I sat on my tall stool, I had a vantage point that allowed me to see no only the bartenders at work but the lack of organization and adherence of basic franchise/good management rules of what should be allowed behind the serving surface. Here sat a Mc Donalds styrofoam cup, personal water bottle, chair piled with items and personal bags and purses amongst cleanly stacked dishes I witnessed kitchen staff deliver and place. Fuzzy characters made from craft Pom-poms were strapped with masking tape to the corner of the touch-screen register and suddenly I realized our seating area hadn't been wiped down after the last customer or two.
As predicted, it took the bartender over 20 minutes to even acknowledge us despite the fact she walked by us every 45 seconds. Our drink was not all that great and our appetizer never made it before our table was ready. The pattern continued as we sat at in our booth with ripped upholstery and burnt out light bulbs. The hostess neglected to give us our silverware with our menus so when our food finally did come, we had no way to eat it. And when Keith tried to order the Steak & Lobster Special he had seen on TV it was sold out (a common experience for us at this chain.)
Actually, the entire night was riddled with small indicators of a restaurant not functioning at it's best and it's the perfect experience of Good Marketing Meeting Poor Management. The corporate marketing team does it's best to brand and bring us in the door but it's the local management that ensures our experience. In this case, the two were just not aligned.