Working in the restaurant industry, we face a wide range of customers. There are great ones and terrible ones. Among friends we have a special bond. What seems to attract everyone’s attention is sharing memorable customer experiences. Maybe it is because we can all relate and we can share similar stories. It is definitely something we all enjoy talking about.The following is a compilation of various short stories of customer service experiences throughout my career working in the restaurant industry.
I once served a young Chinese man and his friend for lunch. Everything they had tried, they seem to enjoy as they complimented on the restaurant’s fusion inspired sushi rolls. They even spoke of passing on positive word of mouth to family and friends and reassured us that they would be returning. I was feeling great knowing I must have done my part of the job for providing great service. That was what I had thought until I had collected the bill fold and was shocked at a zero percent tip. How could someone possibly leave nothing? I thought everything was going well. I was cursing in my head, but at the same time trying to remember every detail of the young Chinese man so that I would be sure not to serve him again. What a cheapo! He had enough to pay his friend but didn’t care to leave anything for myself. Almost 15 minutes had passed and I was I still fuming. The next thing you know it, a voice appeared,
“Hello Jay, sorry to bother you but…”
I couldn’t believe it. I looked up and there was the young Chinese man. He was on his way to work when he realized that he forgot to leave a tip. How did he know? As he was looking inside his wallet, he noticed his one and only $10 bill was still in there. He decided to quickly turn his car around to apologize for the confusion and to leave a full 15% tip. I later found out his name was Charles. He kept his word and referred new customers which he also later became a regular himself.
I was fortunate enough to have met a family of three; two sisters and their mom. They became regulars who visited the restaurant two to three times a week and never missed a week. They loved Japanese food and everything about the restaurant.
For some reason, I was always their one and only server who they ever requested. We clicked instantly and always had something new to talk about. They were my absolute the best customers. It wasn’t just because of the generous tip that they would leave behind, but they understood that sometimes a restaurant has it ups and down moments. Sometimes, it was one of those days when the restaurant got slammed and was short staffed. To my family, this was nothing and it would require larger problems than this to drive them away. As long I kept their drinks topped and refilled, they were happy. We all knew each other well enough that they were like my own family.
Today, we continue to remain in touch. I will never forget my last day at the Japanese restaurant. The two sisters and mother cried upon hearing the news of my departure. My final tip was 25%. Included in the bill fold was their home number. Having been so fortunate to have met them, the family has followed me to every workplace.
Not Enough Hands
As a restaurant dining manager most of my job required me to be on the floor at the very front of the restaurant. Unlike other full service restaurants, this was a limited service concept whereby you ordered your food and sat yourself down. It was very much like a gourmet cafeteria style concept.
One day, I noticed a mother wheeling her child in a stroller with one hand while trying to balance her tray of food and drink in the other. I quickly rushed over before an accident could happen. I carried her tray and found her a table. She was ecstatic and very much appreciative that she handed me a $5 tip. I could not accept her generosity as I told her it was my part of my job to help. She insisted but I graciously declined. Sometimes I wonder how come there are not enough good kind hearted customers like her.
This story is more humorous rather than a great or terrible experience. One day a couple of young female adults had come for lunch. Immediately upon entering the restaurant, one of the young ladies caught the attention of several seated customers. She was a thin figured Asian dressed in a skimpy see-thru top and wearing skin tight jeans with high heels.
The next table just happened to be mine and I was serving them. Not noticing my wedding ring on my finger, the young scantily clad girl placed a torn piece of paper in the bill fold along with a generous tip. Scribbled on the paper was her phone number with a note to call her. I never ever did, but I did bring it home to show my wife who had a good kick out of it.
These are some of the more memorable happy experiences I have shared. Stay tuned for Part 2 for the not so great moments of working in the restaurant industry.
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