Susan holaday's Blog (72)

When service exceeds limits

Can service actually be too good? We get invited to numerous restaurants as a journalist because we're always looking for good stories.

Service is always something we're i interested in. That being said, we've run into a couple of instances over the past year or so when service has gone above and beyond expectations and limits.

We're talking, unfortunately, about examples that show service gone amok, exceeding its limits in…

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Added by susan holaday on July 26, 2011 at 6:20am — 3 Comments

Is poaching fair game?

For many years, restaurateurs have checked out the competition and no one so much as commented on those activities. Chains coming into a new market would routinely have managerial personnel visit existing operations, observe the service, and sometimes make offers to particularly talented servers/bartenders/etc.



This happened recently in Boston, where national chains in the past often found it difficult to open new units. Today, with a number of real estate opportunities, we've…

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Added by susan holaday on March 19, 2011 at 5:42am — 10 Comments

The more things change...

the more they stay the same! It's a new year and yet some of the most basic and important points about the guest experience still seem to have escaped some restaurant employees in places  we've loved and cared about. That's not to say, however, that there aren't plenty of operators who not only 'get it' but have managed to impart a real desire to serve the guest to each and every member of their team.

Yes, as operators tell us all the time, labor is this industry's continuing problem,…

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Added by susan holaday on January 15, 2011 at 5:30am — No Comments

Can you put a price on customer loyalty?

I'm mad and I don't want to take it anymore - it being abuse from companies that seem to no longer value customer loyalty. For more decades than I wish to disclose, I've been a loyal customer of The New York TImes. I began subscribing after graduate school but read it growing up and at college before that. That's a lot of years.


Today the Sunday Times, the only print paper I receive any longer, did not come. I knew they'd been on my floor because my neighbor's Boston Globe…
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Added by susan holaday on November 21, 2010 at 8:28am — 2 Comments

The perennial dilemma - delivering service

A recent weekend hotel stay led me to ponder what constitutes good service. It seems in some ways to be a very subjective thing - is service only good when it lives up to customer expectations ?


My reflections came in response to a hotel folio that was almost impossible to decipher. Because we had checked out and then back in when we decided to stay another night, charges were, at least to my reading, all but impossible to figure out.


Many calls…
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Added by susan holaday on November 14, 2010 at 12:59pm — 2 Comments

And that has made all the difference!

The other day I went to the hospital (a very rare occurrence) for a routine colonoscopy - my first. I entered the building filled with anxiety and trepidation, somewhat expecting a miserable experience. The first person I encountered, a nurse, was welcoming and smiling, friendly and helpful. She asked me to wait at a desk for a woman who could take my information.


I was heartened. Her friendliness eased the anxiety and I began to feel like this might not be so bad after…
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Added by susan holaday on July 21, 2010 at 3:46am — 4 Comments

Connections that make a difference

We hear a lot these days about connecting. Today, social media has raised the art of connecting to new levels - but does this represent progress?


Back in the '50's when neighbors chatted over the clothesline in the backyard, reaching out and sharing tales of their daily lives, hopes and fears, they often related one-on-one in a more than superficial way.


Today, we have hundreds, even thousands of 'friends' and followers on Facebook and Twitter…
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Added by susan holaday on July 2, 2010 at 7:10am — 2 Comments

A call for silence - so we can hear

We live in a world that is cluttered with overload - from news media shouting the latest headlines to friends so caught up in the 'me, me, me' world of Facebook and Twitter that they no longer take the time to truly listen.


I have noticed, in recent weeks, a friend who has begun to regularly scream and yell at me because he thinks I've said something criticizing him. He will probably feel that way if he reads this blog. What I have to say is not critical - in the overall…
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Added by susan holaday on May 10, 2010 at 2:01am — 4 Comments

Is the high-end in for a backlash from its own clientele?

A very weird thing is happening this Spring. I know of two high-end restaurants, one recently opened and another about to open, that seem to be drawing a bit of a negative backlash reflective of the growing dichotomy between haves and have nots.


Commenting on one, which opened this Spring with a prix fixe menu with two options - tasting ($95) and full dinner ($145) and a high priced wine list, a friend confessed that he was upset by the excess in a time when "we're still in…
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Added by susan holaday on April 15, 2010 at 9:07am — 1 Comment

Are foodie bloggers are out to hurt those they report about?

That question came to mind when I read Grub Street's Boston blog recently, only to see another post that implied in no uncertain terms that Uno is heading down the path of Brigham's and other no-longer in business chains because it closed another Boston unit.


Appalled, I contacted some friends at Uno to ask what I should write - -because I felt it demanded some kind of comment in cyberspace. "My experience," one said, "has taught me to let sleeping snakes lie, even if the…
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Added by susan holaday on April 13, 2010 at 3:54pm — 4 Comments

Ignore us at your own risk!

I am blessed to have a friend who is a great muse - whenever we discuss our dining experiences/adventures, he inspires me to write a blog.



Today is no exception - last night we were at a favorite restaurant, one that consistently has had some of the highest standards of food and service in the city.



We sat in the bar area on a couch with a little table. It was busy when we arrived - no seats at the main bar and the smaller area near the kitchen was very noisy.



A… Continue

Added by susan holaday on April 3, 2010 at 2:52pm — 9 Comments

The power of a simple 'thank you'

A very good friend reminded me recently that nothing is more powerful than two very simple words: 'thank you.'

It's very true - we all know people who come into our lives and ask for our help. But the reaction, after giving and not receiving any sign of appreciation - not even a simple 'thanks,' can be one of feeling turned off to offering help again.

That's what happened in my friend's case - he was asked to help someone by linking them with people he knew who might be interested in… Continue

Added by susan holaday on March 25, 2010 at 7:01am — 11 Comments

Whose menu is it, anyway?

The world today seems to be filled with people who call themselves "food writers," which may in itself be a catchall phrase for people with lots of time to write about their personal views of service, recipes, food/restaurants/etc.



We find many (too many?) blogs these days with lots of comments about food, recipes, restaurants, etc. - some bright, informed and well-written, others rambling, not particularly perceptive and sometimes very uninformed about the world those of us in the… Continue

Added by susan holaday on March 21, 2010 at 8:31am — 16 Comments

Why service matters so much

Sometimes we think people eat out because of the food - and certainly that's oftentimes the draw that brings them away from their kitchens.



But it's clear to me that service sets the tone, enhances the experience and can contribute to the desire to return.



Yesterday was set-up day for the New England Food Show. A friend and I went over to set up my booth, a relatively simple thing to do as it's pretty uncomplicated.



Going to the registration desk to pick up my… Continue

Added by susan holaday on March 14, 2010 at 5:55am — 8 Comments

I'll stand up for the facts any day!

I got mad yesterday at a Grub Street report of Uno Chicago Grill's closing of its Porter Square (Cambridge, MA) restaurant. They noted that lease negotiations were cited as a reason for the closing but went on to imply that it may have been a sign that the chain was going "the way of Brigham's," the ice cream concept that wound up going out of business.



In response to what I felt was a snide and unfair implication (not to mention uninformed), I commented (or tried to) that chains may… Continue

Added by susan holaday on March 5, 2010 at 5:05am — No Comments

A Valentine's wish from the heart!

It's Valentine's Day weekend and Bill Baumgartner's blog today has caused me to think about the "diamonds" that have come into my life the past four years - new friends who've brought sparkle and brightness and joy into my life. Some are on FOHBOH, others, FACEBOOK. Some I know personally and interact with regularly, rejoicing in the pleasure and light they bring to my life. Others, I feel I know through interactions in cyberspace.



Many are intertwined with this industry we call… Continue

Added by susan holaday on February 15, 2010 at 4:30am — 3 Comments

When service leaves a bad taste or disconcerted & dissed

We were at a restaurant which, for obvious reasons will remain anonymous, when what was a terrific experience suddenly went somewhat South.



It seemed like a fabulous dinner - the ambience was lovely, the service at first struck as so smooth, polished and professional that we actually began commenting on it to each other, and the food was excellent.



Even afterwards, we felt it was a great time - just somewhat tainted by what happened with our server.



That being… Continue

Added by susan holaday on February 5, 2010 at 3:22am — 9 Comments

Bring people together - the need has never been greater!

Danny Meyer has done it again! Mailalino, his newest, Roman-style restaurant in the Gramercy Park Hotel, received two stars today from The New York Times' Sam Sifton who points out:



"Yes, the impetus for change here was Mr. Schrager’s hotel. But it is Mr. Meyer who has brought New Yorkers to the room, to the view, back to the neighborhood. His restaurants have almost always done this in some way. They encourage their customers to appreciate what sits outside them, to rediscover… Continue

Added by susan holaday on January 20, 2010 at 6:01am — 1 Comment

A front row seat at the ‘ballet’: a New Year’s education

Even those of us who’ve been writing about the foodservice industry all our lives often don’t realize what it takes to make the dining experience happen seamlessly, but last night I had the amazing opportunity to have a seat at the table and simply watch as the extraordinary ‘ballet’ of New Year’s Eve took place before my eyes in my neighborhood restaurant, Navy Yard Bistro.



We’re lucky – those of us who live here because not only is it a beautiful, historic and special place to be,… Continue

Added by susan holaday on January 1, 2010 at 7:28am — 3 Comments

Call me the poster girl for "cooking at home hazardous to your health"

A recent open letter from the National Restaurant Association in Nation's Restaurant News seeks to rally the industry around a proposed campaign to "debate the notions currently going unchallenged in the public forum" - notions suggesting consumers can save significant sums by eating at home.



While it's true that the mass media - TV, talk show hosts, etc. - has promoted this theory, it's not clear how well their message has resonated with consumers. According to NRA, research shows… Continue

Added by susan holaday on December 21, 2009 at 2:32pm — 7 Comments

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