Service. There’s a lot of Buzz about it lately from local diners out for a for a business or pleasure meal.  In these tight economic times when customers think twice about where to spend their dining dollars, San Diego restaurants–new and old–need to be ever more vigilant about service.  Mind you, service begins the moment you enter a restaurant, how you’re treated–from the hostess and servers to the bartender, busser and manager–good service will keep customers, even if there’s an off night in the kitchen.  One word about bad service spreads faster than many good words about food. 

A word of caution here.  Bad service stories are not something Buzz fact checks; it’s not about he said, she said. The customer needs to let the restaurant know when there is a problem, right then and there.  Depending on the issue, a manager or owner can right a wrong, and how the restaurant handles the situation at that moment further defines service.  What did they do to make it okay for the customer who–without some sort of positive acknowledgement such as a comped dessert or drink…something…anything– will go out and tell ten pals never to patronize the place again.

A few examples: A reader sent a note to complain about Zenbu, a La Jolla mainstay for fresh sushi, a Buzz favorite and a place that doesn’t take reservations.  The customer revealed that a new hostess and the manager continuously gave their party of six the wrong wait time for their table–told 35 minutes, waited nearly 2 hours.  Why not leave?  Well, the party believed the hostess who kept saying they’d be seated any minute.  When finally seated, they waited more than an hour for food, even though other tables seated after them were served.  Management offered no comps to appease but did add 18% gratuity to the check.  Not the way to treat customers, no matter how busy your restaurant may be.

Red Marlin, a recent arrival to the Mission Bay area, caught the ire of another local who wanted to bring in a bottle of wine.   The comment by Carlo posted in Solare and Red Marlin explains the situation, and how management missed the cue from a customer looking to buy a bottle from the list and still bring his own for a special evening.  

On the positive side, Buzz popped in for the first time to Urban Solace. I sat at the bar while most diners were on the patio enjoying the warm day.  The bartender/server helped me decide my order–no on the fabulously rich the mac and cheese and yes on the light, flavorful salad of grilled ahi pieces, diced cucumber, red pepper and avocado, innovatively served with not a leaf of lettuce–a balance of texture and flavor in a mouthful.  Sure the bar wasn’t busy, but many times that can lead to poor service when staff does chores or just stands around. Even the hostess, though not perched at the door, had it right. Every time the door opened, she was front and center to greet guests.  Good food coupled with good service makes a winner.  

Buzz would like to hear your stories:  Service–good and bad–and what the restaurant did to be sure you would return. 

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