Hospitality 101

By Megan McDonald March 23, 2012

WWAS (What Would Andy Say)?

Perhaps I miss Andy Rooney from 60 Minutes and his snickity way of saying what irked him. Perhaps I find that there's an oxymoron in being in the hospitality business and not being hospitable. No matter what, I very seldom need to use my blog as a platform to vent. Today, however, is that exception.

After walking by the space that would become another new dining venue in Sarasota, I anxiously awaited the restaurant's opening. This rebirth of our restaurant scene is really amazing, and about five new ones really stand out. Not this one.

My Hunger Games is not headlining a blockbuster movie; it is griping about being hungry because, well, we just couldn’t get served.

I watched my friend wait at the door to be acknowledged while people came in without reservations and were immediately ushered to a table by the host while a great conversation erupted. Not with my friend, you see--she was still be ignored, and by that time so was I.

Thinking we would prove some other locals wrong and find ourselves good service at the bar, we were left to stare at the dirty glasses that others had left before we had even entered. (Note: Only four people were at the bar, and they were at the other end when we sat down.) Debating whether we should have wine or cocktails, we decided to order first. Oops--it seemed the lobster special, whole roasted chicken, lobster mac-n-cheese and lobster rolls had run out (note: it was 7:30 p.m.) Feeling no love, we decided to take our cue and head out. As we headed to another new restaurant down the street, which, by the way, was welcoming, inviting and suggestive about what to try—we pondered this thought: It isn’t even cool anymore in Manhattan to have an “air” about you in the hospitality business. Why the heck--with 14 other new restaurants and hundreds that have been in town for years, overflowing with good wishes and great service--would you think you should open without a welcome and a smile?

This experience reminded me about the one I had when another restaurant's chef/manager wouldn’t get off her cell phone to seat me. Since I am an adjunct professor at the USF School of Hotel/Restaurant Management, I often give my students unpleasant dining scenarios and listen to how they would turn situations around.

I think after this experience they would all agree the owner and staff need to go back to hospitality school.

No doubt I will continue to ponder that and still give them the benefit of the doubt when I venture in for lunch for another try. To be continued.

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