Thursday, October 3, 2013

From Stomachache to Satisfaction

Last month, I wrote a blog post on a local Restaurant Week promotion here in the Binghamton, New York area.  Apparently unlike many other Restaurant Week promotions in the United States, our participating restaurants give a portion of their proceeds to charity.  This past September, the charity was a long-estabished food pantry.

I was glad to eat out several times, with varying results, but not so glad when I got heartburn (and a stomach ache) at the one restaurant which I had actually eaten at before. (Noting here, my husband loves to cook and we rarely eat out.)

I now have a happy ending to my stomachache, which is now a story of how a restaurant is keeping my business.  I'm so happy I want to share it with the blogging world as an example of great customer service.

I'm not going to name the restaurant, as the majority of my readers are not from my local area.  But if you are local, just think of a pet wandering around downtown Binghamton, unable to be found, and you'll guess the name. (And that is how the restaurant did get its name - really.)

I ate lunch at this restaurant during Restaurant Week with a coworker. During Restaurant Week, restaurants offer a price fixe meal (appetizer, entree and dessert) for lunch for a price of $10 plus tax. Dinner is either $20 or $25.

I ordered some beef bolognese from the Restaurant Week menu  Traditionally, this is a long simmered sauce, something my husband normally wouldn't make.  The menu promised they were using grass fed beef, so I gravitated right to it.

I had eaten at this restaurant before, for both lunch and dinner, and looked forward to their usual good cooking.  But, alas, not this time.

The entree was so greasy the grease clung to the flat pasta it was served over.  I could only eat several bites before my stomach clenched in pain.

I didn't (Ms. Shy) want to say anything in front of my co worker, so I just asked for a container. The waitress kindly put the leftovers in, and there was a bunch of grease clinging to the plate. So I spent my afternoon working with a stomachache. And then the heartburn started.  (And as a PS, I brought it home, wanting my husband, who is a foodie, to see if he could figure it out - and he got a stomachache from it, too!)

I decided, the next day, that I had to let the restaurant know.  There was another time this year I complained to a downtown Binghamton restaurant - I got an email a week later saying they would look into it, and then, I never heard from them again. (Fine, because someone wanted me to go there with them for restaurant week, and I refused.) 

I went to the website early the next morning, and there was a feedback form.  I wrote my complaint out, sent it, and within FOUR HOURS I had a response.  I'd love to copy it here but I didn't ask for their permission - so I will condense it.

"We are so sorry to hear about your disappointment with your lunch, and rightfully so! " it began.

"I checked with the chef this morning to review this complaint and...." (then she reported what they decided the problem was.)

"The beef is definitely grass-fed" she assured me, and continued "The good news is we have made sure the problem is corrected for the future." (I hope so.)

And then she offered me a gift certificate! I've now received it and it was quite sufficient to make up for the bad lunch.  I'm impressed, especially because the lunch was a charity thing - so they didn't even make all their usual profit on it.

Will I go back?  YES.  The fact that I've eaten there before helps.  But, most of all, it was the prompt, generous customer service that kept me as a customer.

Have you ever had a happy ending to a bad food experience?


  1. It's so easy to do the right thing, isn't it, if we check our egos at the door! I'm so glad to see that you were able to get satisfaction to your concerns, and I'm sure this establishment will now be remembered. Fabulous!

  2. We all make mistakes, but only a few are prepared to acknowledge it. Congratulations to the LD (I looked them up - I couldn't resist a challenge!) Should I ever visit Maine I'll certainly give them my custom.

  3. It always makes it easier when there's great customer service!

  4. I'm so glad there's a happy ending to your heart burn and stomach ache! what a great restaurant and management who understands the power of positive customer service!

    Peggy (from UBC)

    Peggy Nolan

  5. Wow, what an experience! So glad it turned out better than your previous one. It's always so much nicer when those in management actually listen to their customers or clients, instead of ignore them.

  6. Good customer service is a rarity these days. I'm glad to hear that the restaurant handled the matter in such a great way. I hope you will go back on their website and express how pleased you are there.... sometimes all it takes is one bad review to turn people away from a restaurant.

  7. First of all, good for you for being honest. A good business wants feedback to make their place better. This establishment sounds like they want to keep your business and serve quality food. Good for them, and for you.


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