Yesterday I went with my wife to meet some friends in the bar of a restaurant. It was Friday night and, although the crisis, the bar was packed. Perhaps because it was 5:15 p.m.: Happy Hour time.
The bar was just next to (and open to) the, restaurant, which was almost empty, just two tables were busy. So we went around trying to find our friends but they weren't there yet. One restaurant manager came to us and told us that if wanted to enjoy the Happy Hour, we needed to wait in line. There was already a line of people forming by the entrance.
I politely asked the manager why they didn't use the restaurant space, since it was empty and was still too early for dinner anyway. They could sit people there and tell them that happy hour will finish at 6 p.m. (which it did) and after that time they needed to leave the restaurant area and relocate to the bar if tables were needed. Probably by 6 p.m. many of the people in the bar would be done anyway because it was the ending time of the happy hour.
I thought that this was a fair agreement and we would be totally willing to take it. However, the guy looked at me like I was speaking Klingon. "Sorry Sir", he told me, "but we can't do that. The restaurant is for dinner only". He took our names and asked us to wait.
Obviously, most of the people who were sited to enjoy the Happy Hour just arrived so they weren't going to leave anytime soon.
Many of the people in the line behind us started to leave the place. Many other people came, asked, and then when told that they will have to wait also left.
One of our friends came and we talked about going somewhere else. Since we were next in line, we agreed that she will leave and looked around to find available space. Five minutes later, she called us and told us that she found available tables in a restaurant located one block from there. Of course, we also left the place and join her over there.
Now, think about it. This place had plenty of people leaving because they didn't fit in the bar. It also had around 40 empty tables "waiting for people who may come or not for dinner".
They were leaving money walking out the door!
Does this make any sense to you? It surely doesn't make it to me.
They were blindly following some nonsensical rule that dinner tables were only for dinner, and letting people walk away while having empty tables. It would've been so easy for them to follow my recommendations and use the restaurant space... Instead, they preferred to stick to their guns and let people leave the place unhappy.
Now, if you follow my blogs, newsletters or read my book, you know how important is for restaurants to make their clients feel happy and special.
Do you think that they accomplished that? I don't think so, I'm surely won't go back to that place.
There is plenty of restaurants with bars and happy hours to make me happy without to be waiting in line next to empty tables.
Jose L Riesco