WTF, Service in Restaurants!!


We have had a few rants that have accumulated during our foodie adventures that we feel need to be mentioned.


For a Restaurant Etiquette Guide you might want to read Sheila’s post, a Lifestyle Blogger.


We have a problem with some high-end restaurants and hotels, who invest heavily in great décor, prime locations and architecture but hire the worst if not detrimental staff to run these businesses.


Most folk, if not all, have gone to places like Java and other local food chains and can tell which one is best and which one to stay away from, based on their own experiences.


In countries abroad, food and beverage businesses have high standards of training for their personnel, so that regardless of which city or town you visit, you are guaranteed to get the same quality of service.


There is such a cancer in the service industry where you find waiters/waitresses giving significantly better service to foreigners than locals. We get the impression that they believe foreigners tip better but forget that if you do not get a tip from a local, chances are it’s because your service was appalling or the bill had the word “gratuity” included.


We get the fact that some of these restaurants do not pay their staff well but as a person employed in the service your responsibility lies with the customer. Please don’t go out of your way to ruin their day because you’re having a bad one at work. Customers with negative experiences generally do not come back and drive away potential business through word of mouth. Customer testimony still holds true so businesses should work on cultivating good experiences for clients.

One such place that understands customer retention is Caramel Restaurant located at ABC Place. Caramel is a perfect balance of great, and we do mean great service but mind you, it does not come cheap.





The waitresses at Caramel are smartly dressed, polite and can describe what food will taste like and what would suit you best, depending on your preference. This is so delightful, because one sometimes likes to know what they’re getting themselves into, especially if trying a new dish for the first time. This comes down to good training on their part


What we have been accustomed to in this food industry is that when you ask how a particular food tastes, the waiter/waitress into a fluster because they can’t give you an answer. Clearly, the restaurant didn’t have the foresight to empower their staff. How do you, as a restaurant owner expect your staff to market and cross sell your drinks and meals to customers that have not made up their mind?


There is a huge disparity between the investment made on the physical aspect versus the service delivery at these places and we are not fishing for online beef (pun intended) or popularity but based on our experiences.


Enashipai Resort in Naivasha, Jiko at The Tribe Hotel, Artisan at Sankara Hotel (Staff with really snooty attitude; we’re still debating if it was our lack of foreign accents or our casual dress code that warranted the reception we got), Soko at Dusit along Riverside Drive (Fantastic cocktails though), Urban Eatery at PWC Towers (dreadful lunch and dinner, but great place to drink), and Newscafe at Adlife Plaza. These places need to re-train their staff or just hire capable ones.


Our experience at Newscafe was horrendous, to put it mildly. The staff didn’t seem to want to notice us. We tried to flag them down repeatedly to exchange a fork which somehow still smelled like eggs, probably from breakfast. The somewhat incomplete décor (maybe talk to your Sarit Centre branch about interiors?) and that panel in the roof that hung open. We were sorely tempted to tell them to close it.


Kudos to the manager for noticing our distress. He actually had to cater to nearly all our needs because the waiters and waitresses there couldn’t be bothered. What’s even funnier is that there were only three occupied tables at that time. How hard can it be to cater to three tables?


Managers need to up the standards; if your customer has been wronged do all you can to alter the perception they might leave with.


One time when attending a birthday dinner in 2013 at Mercury Restaurant at the Junction Mall, one of the group members needed a hot lemon and ginger for a cold. The drink was brought but what initially appeared to be some sort of spice was discovered, to the client’s horror, to be baby roaches! When the concern was raised all, that the individual got from the manager was a ‘sorry’ and another ginger water on the house. Someone just had cockroaches in their mouth and that was the best they could do.


What should have transpired is the customer ought to have been given a formal apology and better compensation for their obvious distress, such as a complimentary dinner/lunch for two, or something to that effect. This would show that it was not their intention to humiliate the customer and that the restaurant had a high standard of service to uphold. The restaurant should have done everything possible to save face.


Maybe we here at @Chowdownke expect too much from the hospitality industry but if you want to make money as a restaurant owner, your standards have to be world class. You could borrow a leaf from ‘Mama Mboga’, whose excellent customer service always ensures her food kibanda stays popular. She may not have gone to some snobby college for a fancy degree but she knows that happy customers always return and bring a friend or two, based on their good experience.


If Restaurants want to grow their business, they should invest in their staff, give them thorough training and find ways to keep them constantly motivated. It is not about spending millions and expecting success because you’ll spend many more trying to grow… unless you are using NYS funds and are trying to keep Anti-corruption units off your back.


Until next time, remember to keep your stomach happy.


Thank you for reading if you got this far.


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