I get ruffled pretty easily. I'm generally in a constant state of angst over the way the world is run. I hate outsourced tech support. I can't stand phone voice recognition automated reception. I curse at many of the drivers on the road for being idiots. I loathe the corporatization of this world and everything for which it stands.
In my business, it's all about relationships. I like knowing my vendors and will often choose a brand that is local and smaller over a multi-national company that makes recognizable products. Most importantly, I offer a relationship to my clients. I take business personally (maybe a little bit too so) and want to be available to community for which I serve. Every one of my clients has my cell phone.
What this brings me to is a frustration I have with a lot of restaurants, and seems to be a growing trend. I left my credit card as I was rushing out of Dona Tomas in Oakland this weekend, as we were late for The Black Keys at the Fox Theater. Ok, my bad. So I call on Sunday. After listening to the rules laid forth by Dona Tomas about when it is appropriate to call them (only after 4:30pm M-Sat) and when to leave a message (never) and when they will take reservations (if you're so fortunate), I hung up frustrated that my card would by held hostage until Tuesday. [*Side note, who the fuck closes on Sundays? It's one of the busiest dining-out nights of the week. Do you leave this money on the table in the name of god? And Bryan's market in Laurel Village - really? Supermarket closed on Sunday? Really?]
Anyway, it is now 4:30pm, no 5:05. no 5:12 on Tuesday and I have listened to the message at Dona Tomas way too many times now trying to get through. Here is my gripe: Is a restaurant so popular that it can shun the norms of customer service, above and beyond actual table service? Is it too much to ask to let me leave a message for a reservation, for my credit card I left, for whatever reason I want to speak to you, and you will call me back? Most decent restaurants subscribe to the principals of Slow Food, Farm to Table, Locavore, etc.... yet somehow have decided that they need to set rules and create obstacles to reach their hallowed halls. They care about the community, but seemingly only while you are seated at their table.
Can the smugness of a successful restaurant come back to bite them when people tire of their food and they have lost their innovation and mojo? Frankly it seems not, as this town continues to flock to the likes of Delfina (who lost it's personality years ago), Slanted Door (who lost it not long into the Valencia Days) and seemingly Dona Tomas, who serves adequate Latin fare, but is somewhat overrated and hardly worthy of the hoops I just leapt to confirm that, indeed, they have my card. Now I get to drive back to Oakland to pick it up. Maybe I'll eat next door at Pizzaiolo!