Three Pieces of Unsolicited Advice for Restaurateurs
There’s surprisingly little restaurant news to report at this point during the busy season … because, well, most everyone is so gosh-darned busy.
Therefore, I’m going to take advantage of this relative news lull to offer up a few pieces of advice to the valley’s restaurateurs. While I’m certainly not a trained chef or a restaurant-management expert, I have been writing about food and restaurants for more than two decades now. And I’ve noticed some things.
Enough with the preamble:
• Be sure to make a good first impression. I’m stunned at how many restaurants put someone at the host/hostess stand who is … well, less than pleasant. On a recent lunch visit to one of Palm Springs’ most-popular restaurants, we were seated by a young woman who seemed, well, downright morose—to the point that my husband and I, when she was out of hearing range, instantly asked each other if we had noticed her demeanor. We had … and while I can’t remember off the top of my head what I had for lunch that day, I sure remember that unenthusiastic hostess.
• Be sensitive to people dealing with disabilities or injuries. One example on how NOT to do things: The hubby and I tried to dine at another popular Palm Springs restaurant (that does not take reservations) on one recent, busy weekend night. I walked up and requested a table for two, and explained that because my husband—who was sitting in a chair in full view of the host/hostess area—had just undergone knee surgery to repair a broken kneecap, he couldn’t bend his right leg; therefore, we needed a table rather than a booth.
The woman seating people simply responded, “A table will take longer.” I said OK and was given a pager. We waited for about 20 minutes and saw all sorts of people seated immediately, albeit in booths. As my husband’s discomfort grew, I went up and asked how much longer the table would be.
“A table will take longer,” the woman repeated. I asked if that meant 10 more minutes, or a half hour, or what—and she said she couldn’t tell me, but that it could be a while.
At that point, I shook my head, handed her the pager and left. If we’d have been told that we could be facing a half-hour wait, minimum, when we’d arrived, we would have understood, thanked her and left. It was a hugely busy night, after all. However, to be told, simply, “A table takes longer,” without clarification …. that’s not good, especially when a regular customer is sitting, clearly suffering, in plain view.
• Make sure your online presence is up to date. I’m a food nerd who likes to research menus before trying new places, and it’s a true bummer whenever I spot an item online I’d like to try—only to be told when ordering that the item I was craving is no longer available after a menu change. It’s not hard, or it shouldn’t be, to keep customers or potential customers informed by making sure websites and social media accounts are accurate.
Thanks for reading … and thanks to all the hard-working restaurant employees and owners who kick ass during these busy months.
The biggest food festival of the year is here! Palm Desert Food and Wine will feature events from Wednesday, March 25, through Sunday, March 29. The biggest shindigs are the grand tastings, taking place from noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, March 28 and 29, at The Gardens on El Paseo, at 73545 El Paseo. Tickets cost $100; you can get in earlier if you want to pay more. For tickets and complete schedule of events, visit www.palmdesertfoodandwine.com. … The four bars and restaurants at the Kimpton Rowan Palm Springs, at 100 W. Tahquitz Canyon Way, have a new boss: Dan Grunbeck was recently appointed the executive chef. He headed south from the Lodge and Spa at Brush Creek Ranch in Wyoming. “Marrying his French-Italian cooking style with his love of fresh, locally sourced ingredients, Grunbeck aims to elevate desert dining through memorable culinary moments infused with a strong sense of place,” says the press release announcing Grunbeck’s arrival. Welcome, Dan! … Lots of changes have happened recently at the Morongo Casino Resort and Spa, at 49500 Seminole Drive, in Cabazon. As part of a year-long remodel, Morongo opened three new restaurants: Mozen Asian Kitchen, offering an array of traditional delicacies from China, Vietnam, Korea and Japan; Pink Coffee, featuring coffee and house-made treats including gelato and baked goods; and the Good Times Café, a 24-hour gastropub with two-dozen beers on tap. Learn more at www.morongocasinoresort.com. … There’s going to be a new speakeasy inside Bouschet, at 611 S. Palm Canyon Drive, No. 22, in Palm Springs. It’s called PS Air, and it’s opening sometime in March. Watch www.bouschet.com for updates.