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My Rebound: Customers are always right?!

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Posted at 11:59 PM, Jun 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-26 14:46:18-04

Editor's note: Jessica Ann is a restaurant owner who's blogging about trying to rebound from the coronavirus pandemic at My Rebound by FOX 17. She founded The Candied Yam, a Grand Rapids restaurant serving Southern cuisine, in 2016. She is married with a daughter who just graduated high school and an adult son. She lives in Kentwood.
Did you hear the story about the guy who walks into the restaurant and demands for his food to be ready NOW? He did not want to wait. Not another minute.

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The counter help told him that they were very busy and working on his order as soon as they could. He demanded to speak to a manager or the owner of the establishment immediately. The owner came out. “Sir, we are so sorry, but we are trying our best to take care of each customer as quick as possible.” He tried to reason with the customer, but he did not yield. “I demand my food, and I demand it NOW. I could have made this meal quicker at home.”

Embarrassed but wanting to keep the other customers comfortable, the owner went into the kitchen and told the chef to personally let him handle this situation. Not more than 5 minutes later, the owner walks out of the kitchen with a bag with a box inside. “Thank you for your patience, sir. I do hope that you will return when you have time to dine, so that we can fix your food properly.”

Twenty minutes later the restaurant received a call from the customer. He was irate! “I need to speak to the owner, and I need to speak to him now!” He demanded, again. Earlier that day, the owner had had enough with rude customers, and this customer was the last straw. For in fact, the owner had went into the kitchen and placed a raw rib eye into the box with a sprig of parsley. He wrote a note on the napkin that read: Dear Customer, we pride ourselves on pleasing our customers but you left us no opportunity to serve you the BEST of what we have. We are short staffed, so in your own words – you can make this quicker yourself. Bon appetite!

Guess he told him huh? Okay! Okay! It’s a story that I made up, but do you see my point? COVID seems to have many on edge. Everyone wants a super quick delivery or to jump out of their car and then grab their meal and run back home before they get a chance to breathe in any germs. Unrealistic expectations to say the least. HEELLLOO!!! I’m the one back here fixing your food that you will put into your mouth, which will go into your body? We want and desire to use the best practices to keep YOU safe and to take great care of our food before it becomes your food. You still want to yell at me to rush? DO YOU KNOW how many people I have in the kitchen working? Most restaurants are in a real struggle for staff and workers. They might be essential, but they are still human beings with emotions, thoughts and feelings, not robots. I know we lost 3 people the day everything was closed down due to the COVID pandemic. Everyone was scared. I did not blame them. I was very emphatic toward my team and how scary everything seemed.

Listen, this is not to scold the customer, but more to make you understand where restaurant industry peeps are coming from. It’s quite obvious you wanted the food we are offering or you would not have come to us. It’s true you had that craving for us, but somewhere between that craving hitting and you getting to us, you might have misplaced your manners – and some people totally lost their minds. Please find them before arrival. Just like they say, "You can get more bees with honey than with vinegar," you can get better service and maybe a little bit bigger pieces of fried chicken too!

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DO YOU KNOW if there was 1 order or 10 orders that called in before you did? Do you know what I’m even handling as far as business stress goes? I have some friends who own restaurants, and they are cross training the dishwasher to run the register or even cook. They too need help bad. Like really REALLY bad.

DO YOU KNOW if there are enough people to fill the orders in the time in which you want it done? Do you know if there is a delivery driver trying to accommodate 3 additional orders at once, so that YOU are not canceled and left without YOUR food to feed YOUR family? Do you know when food prices are rising, and you are upset with us to ask yourself if the grocery store prices have raised prices higher too? Just like you get limited to purchase a few items, SO DO WE! Also some of us restaurants don’t have the ability and supplies to create or make your favorite dishes either at this time. Meat shortages, dairy limits have really put a tight squeeze on us.

Now I will speak for me and say that you have those "bad" customers. The ones who try to get your meal on "the cheap" – like it was free to you. Then you have those who falsely make claims that something was wrong with their food AFTER they ate everything but a spoonful. Just to get it free. When we see those individuals come, we just want to turn the open sign off! Those who work in restaurants just want to be treated fair with respect and decency. Like, we have feelings and challenges and real struggles guys. We LOVE seeing grateful customers who appreciate the time we put into making a great-tasting meal. And if we mess us (called being human) bring it to our attention, NOT social media. That really is unfair to have a negative encounter and then not bring it to our attention, so we can make it right while playing the victim!

Most of us want to make it right so that we can have long-time customers, not just a one-time meal purchased. We want to be there for your first date, to cater your wedding and first baby shower! OUR GOAL IS TO PLEASE YOU WITH OUR FOOD. I don’t think we tell people this often enough, because someone told us – that regardless of how crappy we get treated at times, the customer is always right.

I beg to differ.