Tuesday, March 19

Restaurant Abuse

Let me know if you can relate to this at all.

You have a favorite restaurant that you visit every time you visit one of your favorite cities.  It's the hottest of hottest restaurants and the food is to die for.  Every time you visit this city you go to this restaurant.  You've brought friends, family, clients, work colleagues ... you go every time you're in town.

The problem is that the restaurant is abusive.  They over book their tables every single time.  So even though you have a reservation, you still end up waiting over an hour to get seated.  And because the place is so over crowded, there's really no place to even stand while you are waiting.  You fight for your life to grab a drink at the bar while you wait endlessly to be accepted by the hostess.

You stand there in amazement that you are putting up with this behavior.  This happens every single time, even though you have a reservation, yet you keep coming back.  It's restaurant abuse.

Such is the case for me at my "favorite restaurant" in Miami.  It's an infamous steak place down at the beach.  It's so hot that it swells to over capacity every night.

I went there again this past weekend, just like I do every time I'm in Miami.  10:00pm reservation ... and at 11:45pm I still had not been seated.  Happens every single time I'm there.  To top it off, the hostess couldn't be bothered to give me any kind of an ETA.  The crowd at the bar was three people deep to get a drink while we wait for almost two hours.

Enough is enough.  I walked out and had dinner across the street where the people are lovely.  It's not as "hot," but does it matter?  I'm not taking restaurant abuse anymore.

For me, dining out is an experience.  It's a brand experience that combines atmosphere with fashion with beverage with food with people.  When  restaurant is so hot that it feels the right to be abusive, we just have to say no.  I can't believe that I put up with it so many times in the past.

Stick a fork in me, I'm done.  This is not a brand in my life.

What's your experience?  Ever experience restaurant abuse?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President, Cohn & Wolfe NA
Author, The Experience Effect series
Marketing Professor, NYU


  1. I have and I left. They obviously didn't need and weren't thankful for my business. It's a really a life lesson: if you don't appreciate what you have, you will lose it.