At some point during the last 20 years, the service industry took a turn.  I don’t know where it went or why it left, but it’s gone.  Gone are the days when customers are taken care of at a restaurant, especially ones that pride itself for charging upscale prices for upscale ambiance and food.  I don’t expect great service at a burger joint, and even less at a Chinese restaurant.  But I do hope for some standard of service when we dine at a restaurant that is going to charge us 3 figures for 2, with or without wine.

While I do have almost no standard for service levels at fast food, movie cinemas, or your local body shop, it is amazing to me that even those establishments have zero standard anymore.  I was recently at an Edwards Cinema and the high school gentlemen who took the order for the couple in front of me simply looked at me and left after serving them.  Being relegated to standing there like a jilted significant other at the altar, I simply slid over to the cashier next to me.  As an isolated incident, that doesn’t really warrant a soap box response.  But it seems time after time, place after place, the attitude that comes across is, “If you don’t like it, you can go elsewhere”.  I don’t need someone to be my buddy when I order food, so it was kind of a shocker to me when I was at a Panera Bread, the cashier said, “What can I get you, man?”  And then to say, “Here’s your smoothie buddy.”  Yes, it’s a Panera Bread and let’s not over react, but seriously?  And let’s round out these stellar experience with “Dick’s Last Resort” in San Diego.  During a business trip w hile back, our company hosted a dinner at Dick’s Last Resort.  While infamous for it’s rude and fiery service as a humorous way to dine, why ANYONE would pay $20-$30 to get yelled at by a total stranger, no matter how fun it could be, is beyond me.

It’s not just this country or just the “younger” generation that has no sense of service.  We were in Paris and we decided we were going to eat at the Musee Le Cafe Du Musee near the Hotel Invalides.  The crotch-ity old server gave us a menu, grunted, and never came back.  Though angry and disappointed, I thought maybe it was us being a tourist, not speaking French, etc.  When I wrote the review on Yelp after we returned, I was validated by a Parisian who agreed that this cafe has the absolute worse service in Paris.

You know where we had absolutely excellent service?  London.  While I admit we didn’t dine at all the places in the city and I am sure they have quite a number of cafes and restaurants that could make it on this list, we had really excellent service overall.  Polite, attentive, reserved, and an attitude of “aim to please”.  From a place like Rock and Sole Plaice [fish and chip shoppe] to J Sheeky [higher end seafood restaurant] to Pret a Manger [local Starbucks want to be], all had consistent polite and gentle service.  Is that so hard?  Are we that bitter we can no longer smile at a customer?

I don’t know the answer to the lost art of service.  It’s truly gone, for the most part.  I have a theory though.  Recently at the same Edwards Cinema, I saw 2 boys in the men’s restroom doing number 1 while moving laterally to try and hit every single urinal in one stream.  That’s just GREAT home training.  Theoe two, I’m sure, will grow up to ask their customers, “What do you want to order, dude?”  I can wait on that.

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