Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Noi Due vs. My Most Favorite Food

Last night, my husband and I went on an outing. As we happened to be on the Upper West Side, I suggested we stop by Noi Due for drinks and cake to conclude our evening. When the maitre'd welcomed us, I told her that's all we were planning to order and she seated us. I was mulling over my cinammon-flecked apple cider while Heshy enjoyed an orange fruit juice when our whiskey cake arrived. It had all the makings of an enjoyable evening.

Except the waitress rushed us and thereby ruined my night.

I understand why she rushed us. We weren't ordering a full meal. We weren't incredibly rich. We weren't going to tip her so much simply because we weren't ordering appetizers, wine, entrees and then dessert. But we're still people, we're still customers, and we have the right so sit at our table for at least twenty minutes without being constantly disturbed by questions of, "Perhaps you want an appetizer?" when I clearly said I did not and the bill being presented after ten minutes with an annoying, chirpy "Whenever you're ready" which was repeated once more within the next three minutes. This was especially annoying because there were two empty tables ready and waiting for the next pair of interested customers. Thus, it's not as though we were taking up valuable space at a peak time.

In contrast to this, I have always had wonderful experiences at My Most Favorite Food, even when I only ordered one slice of cake. The waiters are solicitous and friendly. They never rush me, push me around or otherwise make me feel unwanted. Whether I've ordered an expensive full meal or the one slice of cake, they treat me well. The first time I met Heshy we stayed there for hours, talking over our cake.

There are many industries in which it pays to build up customer loyalty. Hairdressers, manicurists and spa estheticians know this. Even though a manicure may cost a mere $7-$10, if I enjoy my experience, I will come back again. Had I enjoyed my experience at Noi Due, I might have made my drinks-and-cake outing a weekly experience. Had I enjoyed the service rendered by that particular waitress, I would have asked to be served by her again. But she was only interested in us in context of this one meal. She didn't bother to consider the past or the future. If she had, she would have realized:

- Just because I happen not to be ordering a full meal today does not mean I have not done so in the past and would not do so in the future. In fact, I have spent a fortune of money at Noi Due and have recommended it to many friends. If I had had a positive experience, I would continue to do so.

-For all she knows, one day I may become incredibly wealthy and dine here all the time. A little bit of kindness and sweetness now would have earned her a potentially wealthy customer for later. (Cue scene from "Pretty Woman" when Richard Gere accompanies Julia Roberts to the shops that wouldn't allow her to purchase items before, deliberately doesn't buy clothing from them and lets them contemplate what they lost.)

I know that there are many wealthy Jews in New York, and thus the seemingly small loss of a student couple's business doesn't really faze restaurant owners. But I think it should. You lose nothing by being kind to someone, and in the long run, you might gain something. Disgruntled customers, even if they're just students, aren't good for your business. Especially when they decide that from now on, they'll be eating by your competition.

17 comments:

yitznewton said...

*head scratch* how come this isn't lashon ha-ra on Noi Due?

Chana said...

Are restaraunt reviews lashon hara? If so, The Jewish Week couldn't publish them. Neither could The Jewish Press- which has a section on them here. And yet, they both do! Unless you're saying you can't publish any restaraunt reviews unless they are positive, which would be rather silly.

yitznewton said...

Okay, I'm not going to hijack your comments for yet another discussion of LHR; but I personally would want more than "these pubs print reviews" before I said things like "constantly disturbed, annoying chirpy, ruined my night, especially annoying."

Chana said...

Yitz, you can read here if you're so concerned about the topic. Personally, I think a restaraunt has a responsibility to provide good customer service and when they fail at it, they can legitimately be reviewed at SeriousEats, Yelp or blogs.

TPW said...

I once went to Noi Due for a sit-down dinner with a friend. We ordered main courses, and were also rushed out after around 30 minutes. A very similar experience to the one you had, and uncomfortable enough that I never plan to go back again--what's the point when all I wanted was a relaxing, indoor place where I can stay a while with a bit of food?

Anonymous said...

Not sure why you think it had to do with you being perceived as "not rich"- there is certainly not a sure and consistent way of deducing who has money and who does not. I am sure if you asked the waitress to leave you to your conversation and cake- she would have. I personally have had only good experiences at Noi Due.

Sara said...

At your competition.

Anonymous said...

I like watching Check, Please!- a weekly, half-hour series that gives people the opportunity to review, chat and combat about their favorite(or not so favorite) local restaurants and their service.

Chana,I enjoyed this post!Perhaps I should hire you as a notable restaurant critic of my own establishment. Imagine the possibilities.

~RT

Anonymous said...

This post is interesting. I think it reflects more on the waiter or waitress than the restaurant.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry that happened to you Olivia but you shouldn't judge Noi Due based on that one experience. I have gone many times and one thing I always remark about is how friendly the waiters are and how they make you feel as though you are getting a 5 star dining experience for relatively not as much. I think you judged this one too fast and go back and give it a second chance. :)

Shades of Grey said...

I've eaten at Noi Due several times and have always enjoyed the food, which I feel is of a much greater variety, not to mention cheaper (for a dinner meal) than MMFF, which was a big date restaurant for me until they moved.

However, Noi Due is often packed when I've gone, or tried to ( I got turned away once with my sister this summer because of a 45 minute wait - we went to MMFF). So I can understand the rushing a bit if they have no free tables and people waiting outside in that cold ante-room.

I do think it was rude to rush you of there were free tables available and no one was waiting for that specific sized table. ASoG and I recently waited as the first people on line for 10-15 minutes as they gave away larger tables to incoming customers since all the 2 people tables were full.

Did you complain, rightfully so, to the manager? When we were waiting last time, I approached him and asked him to allow us to order, so our food came 5 minutes after we sat down. Perhaps he could have taken some money off the bill or some other gesture?

In my opinio, one thing that MMFF does better than Noi Due (besides cheesecake variety) is that they take reservations! It's always a gamble going to Noi Due because of this fact and their huge popularity. They need a bigger location or something to better handle the masses that flock there, especially on Thursday nights.

Dana said...

im so happy you and heshy chose a different place to talk for hours over your slice of cake on that first date!! can you imagine if they rushed you oiut then?
i like this post :)

Anonymous said...

They may have decided we weren't rich based on the casual clothes we were wearing, and the tiny dessert we ordered (and our young-student-look?).

-Heshy

Anonymous said...

Still do not think rich or poor had anything to do with it.

Is there a difference said...

I think a restaraunt has a responsibility to provide good customer service

and if a member of the community sets me up with a goy on a date, should we also shout about her evil and incompetence from the rooftops?

Anonymous said...

You blatantly state that you aren't going to tip much and then act confused when they try to move you along? Come on.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't eat there. I live above the place and they leave food out in the alley way. Even if they are just getting it delivered, there's rats and mice EVERYWHERE back there. I feel bad for all people who can't see what I see.