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.