I was in Scotland last week. My wife and I visited our daughter for a couple of days. We also had chance to visit our son at the start of the week in England. Scotland was beautiful and sunny. And beautiful and rainy. That’s the thing about Scotland. It is always beautiful…whatever weather and whatever time of year.
Everyone we met was very friendly – taxi drivers especially are a great source of ideas and information. We were only there for a couple of days and planned to eat out both nights. We had chosen – and booked – our first restaurant several weeks ago. An excellent and imposing Italian restaurant. Italian restaurants in Scotland always tend to be very good.
We have been there before – at least once a year on average. We were excited. They had our booking, and offered to walk us to our table. It was a long walk. We walked all the way through the main restaurant, up to the far wing, all the way to the end, and finally stopped at a table next to a pillar and just by the (draughty) fire exit.
I am sure they don’t rank their tables, but if they did (or if I did), then this table it would definitely be ‘least attractive’ in this restaurant. We don’t see my daughter that often, and it was a cold night, so we were disappointed with our allotted slot. Especially as we had booked well in advance.
I made that fateful decision. I decided to go and ask whether there was a different (aka better) table available. My heart sank as I walked back through the restaurant. It was pretty full. Presumably all these other people had also booked – earlier than we had – which was why we ended up where we were…
It’s such a big moment when, as a customer, you raise some aspect of disappointment to restaurant management. How do you phrase your concern, how open and friendly will they be? Will it all end in (proverbial) tears or happiness?
The answer – much to my surprise – was the former. The people I spoke with came over neither as helpful nor sympathetic. I am sure that wasn’t their intention – why would it be? But that was how it landed. The best they could offer was to start us off where we were, and maybe move us to a different table in 30 minutes or so.
In truth they didn’t really have many options – I could see all tables were taken. My now frustration (worse than disappointment) was based more on an apparent lack of care about our situation and disregard for our early booking. Even now, I am not sure why I even bothered to ask. But I did.
I returned to our table, we chatted and decided to leave. The ultimate decision really. But it felt like the best course of action. At that moment it just seemed so unlikely that we were going to have the evening we were after. And we knew there was another magnificent Italian restaurant just down the road.
We walked in off the street and were welcomed like returning friends. We had no booking of course, but found ourselves on a wonderful table (the second restaurant was definitely not as busy). We were very well looked after and had the fantastic family meal we were after…with no draughts and no pillars.
I know the first restaurant’s food is better quality. But both restaurants are excellent. Our decisions weren’t anything to do with food quality. It was all about how we felt we were treated…it was all about how we felt.