I am all for supporting local businesses. But sometimes the choice isn't, as we like to say in this country, "black or white".
What happens when you want to eat out and your choices are a large restaurant chain employing local people vs. a local restaurant business? The answer may not be as clearcut as you might think - no black and white here, but perhaps two shades of grey.
Last week, I ate out two days in a row. Please help me judge my experiences.
I was in a party of eight. We were seated promptly and efficiently by two servers, who combined to serve our table efficiently. Both servers were personable and made sure water was refilled and salad (included with the meal) kept coming. The menus were professionally printed and gave us the information we needed to make our choices.
One soup was not what was ordered, and the correct soup was quickly brought. Otherwise, all the dinners were well prepared, and everyone (including my brother in law, who is developmentally disabled) had a nice time.
I was in a party of two. This was a lunch during our lunch periods at work, so my co worker and I had a limited time to spend at lunch. Two menus were brought to each of us, a "express" menu and a lunch menu. Each of our express menus were blurry, and part of the margin was cut off. In other words, some of the menu was cut off and it was also almost unreadable. (My co worker, who is younger than I am, had the same comment about the blurriness.)
My meal, chosen from the express menu, gave a "choice of toppings". One of the toppings was sour cream. The waiter explained the menu was wrong; there was no choice. I asked if it could be left off. The waiter said no, because "this was the express menu". I asked if the sour cream could, then, at least be served on the side. The waiter said he would see what he could do (it did come on the side.)
The service was very slow but this seems to be the case at a lot of downtown Binghamton restaurants, not just this one.
When it was time for us to leave, both of us had food on our plates. The server brought boxes, then decided my companion's dinner needed a smaller box,and disappeared. And didn't return. We didn't have our checks yet so we just had to wait...and wait. Finally he reappeared, with a smaller box and the check. He said he would be back "in a few minutes" to take our payment, and disappeared again. We were very late, so we just left money on the table, and left.
Did I complain? See below.
1. Which of the restaurants would you eat at again?
2. Which of the restaurants was a chain and which was local?
1. The restaurant of Experience One.
2. Experience One was a national chain (Olive Garden, to be exact) and Experience Two was a popular local Binghamton restaurant.
I wasn't even going to complain to Experience Two but a couple of my co-workers told me the owners deserved to know about my experience. "Perhaps they would make it right", said one of them.
The restaurant has a website with a contact email. This experience occurred Thursday. I emailed them last Friday and last night got a brief response acknowledging that he received the email and he would respond. Fair enough, he has to investigate, although if he has an email contact on his website he might want to monitor it more frequently in order to stay in touch with his customers. But, I must have to say, at this point in time I don't plan to return and neither does my co-worker.
Have you ever had a disappointing experience at a local business and given your business to a comparable national chain instead?