Back to Archives

Customers always first

Chatting about customers, dogs and my husband’s fruity drink

Email Article Print Article Share on Facebook Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon

Where there is food, there are relationships. Many of us eat at our local café or restaurant and have stronger relationships with our favorite server than we do with our own sibling(s). I know I do (this is a test for my sister Kim to see if she reads my column). My point is, when your server knows what wine you drink, how you like your steak cooked, and oh by the way they’ll ask, “How is your hamster doing with the abscess tooth thing?” You know you are loved.

The other day I noticed one of my favorite customers wasn’t finishing her lunch. She was also not her happy, bubbly self. I had to be pushy and ask her why. She explained with a tear in her eye, “Last week I put down my dog of 12 years.” She then elaborated about the circumstance behind his death. Her explanation sent me into a tailspin because my dog is my best friend and to even THINK of him dying pushes me into a state of crippling emotion.

Only a few days later a different customer of mine strolled in with an oversized handbag containing her new dog named Sprout. Now the name Sprout should not fool you. This dog is a pint-sized Ewok but with a gallon-sized attitude. I renamed him Chompers (for obvious reasons) because even for a dog lover like me, he is a challenge. Chompers WILL love me someday, even if I have to lose a finger in the process.

The real issue here is that I let this little fur ball come in to my restaurant. The way I see it, Chompers has some anxiety and needs to be around his new momma at all times. He is a rescue dog, and other than saving a dog from a shelter or Human Society, his momma has two thumbs-up in my book. Screw the health department. It lives in a purse. Give Chompers a break! Sometimes making the customer feel comfortable can go wrong …

The husband and I popped over to the Proctor District last Friday night to check out La Fondita and their new bar addition. The man and I prefer the 21-and-over environment, which we call the “no baby zone.” After a long day, we truly enjoy the rewards of a cry-free dinner. Now, I’m not raggin’ on babies. I had one once. He was great. But he’s all grown-up now and old enough so he too can enjoy the rewards of the no baby zone.

When it came time to order our drinks, one server took the order, and a different server brought it to us. When they arrived, the server, who was male, put the strawberry margarita in front of me and the vodka soda in front of my husband. My husband coyly said, “It’s the other way around.” The server responded with, “Sorry dude, I just assumed.” Which should have been the end of this conversation, but the husband had to defend his drink and add, “I wanted something fruity!” This conversation was going to go down hill from there, so I quickly responded, “ Thanks. We’ll order dinner now.” With a wink and nod, this server knew he would be on my “A” server list from now on. I felt very comfortable.

We in the food business try our best to make our customers feel comfortable and appreciated. It is as much our job as filling water glasses and running plates. But then again, there are those times we inadvertently make our customer feel uncomfortable. It is not impossible to recover from. A little back peddling and some extra schmoozing will usually do the trick.

And just as a side note, to gain his respect back, the next drink the husband ordered was a beer. 

Eat out Tacoma. We need your love.

Sandee Glib has worked in the restaurant and hospitality industry for more than 12 years as a server, bartender, cook and owner. Her opinions are expressly her own and she is always right.

comments powered by Disqus