So Friday I decided on an impromptu dinner with the family. It is very rare that we go out to dinner. If we do decide to eat out, so to speak, we usually order and eat in. The story itself is quite a long one but I want to highlight a specific experience that night. We decided to head over to Applebee’s.
We were actually pretty lucky, we thought, when it came to timing. We seemed to have made it in right before the Friday night crowd. There was about two or three people a head of us. After a few parties were seated there was just one before us. Over 20 minutes passed and the little lobby just continued to fill up. At the same time you could peer into the dining area and see many seats and booths empty. At the same time you could see waiter and waitresses milling around talking. The hostess and two other employees stood in front of us talking for a good 10-15 minutes. Finally the party before us came over to ask what the hold up was because they too noticed the open seats. She was told the computers were down so they weren’t allowed to seat anyone.
Now I only overheard the conversation because we were seated next to the hostess, the customers behind us and just coming in had no idea what was going on and were simply told their wait would be around 30 minutes. Shortly after as we were contemplating an exit a manager came up and told the hostess to sit a few parties only. I asked the hostess what it meant by the computer being down, were we going to be able to order food? She said yes and they would explain it when we sat down. At this point we really should have declined and left however we were starving, had already waited over 30 minutes, and were told we would be able to order.
The waitress took our drink order and before she walked away quickly explained that their computer was down so they were not able to prepare the food in a timely manner so it may be a while for our food. Now here is where my patience was at it’s limit. I don’t pretend to know how to run a restaurant, I leave that to my sister. What made me the most upset about this entire experience wasn’t that the restaurant couldn’t efficiently take and prepare orders with their computer down. What upset me was I was not given the full facts of what was going on so I could make my own decision on whether I wanted to continue to wait or leave and go else where. I also thought it was very unprofessional for the staff to be standing around like they had nothing better to do.
My sister if you were not aware owns an Outback Steakhouse so she is very verse in the restaurant business. I asked her how this situation would be handle at her restaurant to get a somewhat fair assessment from the restaurant. She said the main issue with the computer going down are the orders that were in the system. It would take them a little time to weed out which orders need to be prepared. However a computer shut down would only effect those customers. A manager would visit each of those tables to explain the situation regarding a little extra time to prepare the food. No new customers would be effected. All staff members are aware of the manual way of placing and preparing orders. She would not hold seating, she said maybe they would tell the hostess to give them 5 minutes to let the staff know what was going on so they could switch to the manual method.
Again I will say I wasn’t behind the scenes at Applebee’s, I believe the waitress mentioned the system was going up and down so it is possible they were trying to use it and continuing to lose orders. I can’t stress that my issue with this situation is how Applebees managed order taking and preparing but the lack of informing the customer of the situation.