Don't get me wrong; I love eating out. I bear a deep respect for the food industry, which is a hard, hard business. But really, folks, there are a lot of restaurants out there and the economy is The Suck right now — in general, you just have to try a little harder. Some case in point from my last few days:
Sunday night (before Swell Season, which was awesome!), we went out to the Uptown Cafeteria. I had heard mixed things, but was very happy with our meal. Though our reservation put us at an interior booth (and I really wanted a window), our cocktails were lovely, our food rich but good, and our waiter excellent. Score one for the home team!
Our server gave us each a stamped "Parasole Passport," explaining that if we ate at the Cafeteria, Il Gatto, and Chino Latino we would each get a stamp at each and then we would get a free cocktail. We were still a little snacky, so decided to get dessert at Il Gatto, where the host and hostess were very friendly and encouraged us to try the desserts. Hmm, maybe not so much.
We asked to be seated outside, only to find that the table we had eyed on the way in was gone; the people at one of the other tables had decided to move to it. That put us directly on the line of their cigarette smoke, but again, tolerable. The fact that we had to wait about 10 minutes for the waitress to notice we were there and take our order (perhaps we should have tried smoke signals), not so great. The wait for 40 minutes to get one dessert — kind of ridiculous. By the time it arrived we had finished our cocktails (and never been offered water), the ice cream part of the dessert had completely melted, and we were hot and late and just wanted to get out of there. Though of course it took forever to get the check, and then the waitress said she would only stamp one of our little passports.
See, that's the problem. We had commented throughout how savvy Parasole was with social media, we liked the passport idea, there were a lot of good promotional ideas that made me excited to go there. But what do I remember? The bad service and the crappy dessert, plus the lack of a stamp on the passport promotion. Am I likely to go again, or to recommend Il Gatto to others? Certainly not. Despite all the social media and promotions in the world, they blew it with bad service.
On another note, I had happy hour at La Grolla today with two lovely friends. It's been too long since I've been there; I used to go often. We chose it because my friends had never been there and wanted to see the patio, so even though it was 95 degrees with a head index of unbearable we wanted to sit outside. Only to be told that the happy hour was only in the bar.
See, this is what I don't understand. You have 3 people likely to order a few appetizers and drinks and talk about your place. the restaurant is empty — we were the ONLY ones there. There were 2 people staffing the empty patio. Would it have killed them to let us have happy hour on the patio, especially since we were long gone before the restaurant got at all busy? We very nearly left for somewhere else (in no short supply on Selby), and again, I have a nice memory of today, but it's colored by the restaurant's recalcitrance to allow me to enjoy myself. I don't know when I'll next be back.
So here's the advice. I don't have to go to your restaurant. But if I like it, and feel welcome, I'm going to go a lot. I'm going to talk it up and send others. If you piss me off, I'm not. You'd like to stay open; what do you want to do?