Waiters Eating in Front of You with Food from Another Restaurant???

Employees Eating In Front of Customers. Photo courtesy of Ben Earwicker. Above Promotions Company. Tampa, FL 2013
Employees Eating In Front of Customers. Photo courtesy of Ben Earwicker. Above Promotions Company. Tampa, FL 2013

A couple of weekends ago some friends and I gathered at a local South Tampa bar and restaurant for a day party following the monthly meeting for the Tampa Bay Association of Black Journalists. While we enjoyed the music and even one of the hosts of the event, the trip turned into well, this blog.

We arrived a few minutes early to the event and we were beyond ready for lunch. The wait staff was still scrambling to prepare for the crowd. As it reached official event hours we noticed the staff was still preparing for the event in front of the few customers (us). A few staff members sat at the bar (not standing behind it) and sliced lemons and limes. Delays happen right? Understandable. You want to rest your feet a little longer? Go for it! However, what happened after the manager took our meal and drink orders, I was personally shocked by as a business owner and marketing professional.

Apparently we were not the only hungry people there.  Within minutes of our order being taken a couple of bags from Chipotle appear. Initially we all thought “maybe they buy their salsa, guacamole or chips from there since it is down the street and closer to the bar than a grocery or discount store.” Not the case at all. The manager and other waiters began to stand and sit at the bar and eat Chipotle while preparing items for the day. You can imagine our faces and the conversation we began to have watching this all unfold. Is it not after opening time? Are we not sitting here?

There was no food critic among the staff that day, but what they failed to realize is you never know who your customers are in your establishment. I wonder now if they would have done the same if they knew there was an editor from one paper, reporter from another, online blogger, tv producer from Lakeland and myself (blogger of justice- well not really justice) sitting within 10 feet of all of this. It was obvious this was not the first time it occurred. We even witnessed a brief argument over one of their lunch orders that was not taken properly.

Now some could argue classism or even go the opposite way and discuss hygiene and proper etiquette. Neither of those are what I want to focus on today. What about smart business? What about not marketing another restaurant in yours that serves similar food? As hungry as we were that day, the Chipotle looked even better than normal. Thoughts of walking down there ourselves crossed my mind. However, subliminally they caused the table to wonder if the food they would serve to us would be good. Words like “Who has eaten here before” and other comments arose.

Many of you understand the price of advertising. You understand how much it costs to convert a potential lead to a sale. You know what happens when a bad review or experience is created and then shared publicly. But apparently, this group of people didn’t or they just didn’t think any damage could be done with the group there that day.

Well here are a few tips for employers of any type of business:

  • Employees should have designated areas to eat their meals and bring in other foods.
  • Eating and drinking in front of customers should be prohibited.
  • Encourage your staff to plan ahead for their shift by eating beforehand and/or planning on eating during breaks off-site.
  • Share with your employees the value of advertising and how their actions can directly and negatively affect their salaries due to public complaints.
  • You never know who is in your midst. Run the business at top levels at all times for all customers.

I imagine now that if Jon Taffer, Bar Rescue star and expert, were to have been there, he would want to let the manager on-duty know where the bar was failing.

What do you think?

Is it a big deal to eat another restaurant’s food in front of customers?

Leave your comments below. They may be featured in a future blog.

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Above Promotions is a full service publicity, marketing and promotions company, founded with the purpose to serve an array of clients that are looking to expand their presence in the marketplace. From a local to international market, Above Promotions Company can provide the exposure that goes above your expectations. Visit http://www.abovepromotions.com today.

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Ebony T. Grimsley is the Creative Director and Owner of Above Promotions Company. She is also the recent author of “Because You’re Small: Effective Marketing Strategies for Immediate Implementation.” To find out more information on the book, please visit http://www.abovepromotions.com or purchase online at Amazon, Booktango and other online bookstores.

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What “Buzz” Can Do for You

The lunch crowd waiting for their tables inside of Gladys' and Ron's Chicken and Waffles in Downtown Atlanta. Photo by Above Promotions. Tampa, FL 2012.
The lunch crowd waiting for their tables inside of Gladys' and Ron's Chicken and Waffles in Downtown Atlanta. Photo by Above Promotions. Tampa, FL 2012.
The lunch crowd waiting for their tables inside of Gladys’ and Ron’s Chicken and Waffles in Downtown Atlanta. Photo by Above Promotions. Tampa, FL 2012.

I have to preface today’s blog with a little bit of background. Recently while at a good friend’s barbecue during Labor Day weekend in beautiful St. Petersburg, FL, the conversation ventured on the subject of Atlanta and a few good restaurants. Not really knowing I would make a sudden trip to the area in the near future, this discussion would have more meaning to me than originally thought.

During the talk, one person claimed that Gladys’ place was really great. They went on and on over what items they liked. While another person said they were disappointed during their visit. Since it had been quite a few years since my last trip to Atlanta, I was unaware that two people I respected greatly in the music world, Gladys Knight and Ronald Winans, had come together for a joint venture known as Gladys Knights’ and Ronald Winans’ Chicken and Waffles.

Fast forward to this past weekend. Another friend and a college sorority sister made references on me visiting Gladys’ place during my visit. I have to admit, based on the previous conversation earlier in the month, I was not gung-ho about patronizing the restaurant. However, during a conversation on where we were having a late breakfast, I folded to hesitation and went with the option to visit the Chicken And Waffles establishment.

It is known that this local downtown restaurant can easily be packed inside with a crowd and on the outside with people awaiting a chance to get a table for what is said to be one of the best soul food restaurants and landmarks in the area. In spite of arriving 10 minutes before it opened, there was a line formed outside with people hungry for what was inside as shown in the image above.

Although the crowd is orderly, there is a security guard that works the outside to help keep it that way. No really. Take a look at the next picture.

Security guard keeps order outside of Gladys' and Ron's Chicken and Waffles in Downtown Atlanta. Photo by Above Promotions Company. Tampa, FL 2012.
Security guard keeps order outside of Gladys’ and Ron’s Chicken and Waffles in Downtown Atlanta. Photo by Above Promotions Company. Tampa, FL 2012.

Not really sure if it’s for the patrons or the large population of homeless individuals in the area behind the restaurant. Ideal or not, the street dwellers do not prevent locals and tourists from waiting to feast on highly rated food.

So what makes this place a hit? How can others in the restaurant industry or any other field generate this type of buzz?  Here are a few thoughts:

  • Get a celebrity or two! Well maybe not just any celebrity, let’s face it. In the same city, Justin’s, a restaurant titled after the namesake of Sean Combs‘ son, wasn’t able to survive off of just a name. Although Gladys Knight and Ronald Winans are brands themselves, it is the love of food from Gladys’ son, Shanga Hankerson, that keeps the restaurant going. So it’s not really a surefire way to keep customers, but it is a way to spark interest. Perhaps you can’t afford international names such as these mentioned. However, you can find other ways to entice local celebrities to be active at the establishment, if your desire is not to convince them to partner with you. There will be some hesitancy by many people on this thought, but take a look at many of your charitable events in the area. People aren’t just using local big names to occupy space on advertisements.
  • Great environment. There’s something about using the proper mix of colors and furniture laced with employees eager to provide great service that creates a great environment for customers. This particular business used warm earth tones in an upscale way to attract crowds who will enjoy paying for food and the chance to say they ate at a known location. Views of their musical background can also be spotted throughout the establishment. Just a small reminder of where you’re dining. Ambiance is everything and reviewing yours on a regular basis should be a key part of your branding strategy.
  • Great product selection. Although everyone’s taste buds and backgrounds are different, it would be hard pressed to say the selection of food or even how it is presented or cooked doesn’t reflect a southerner’s background. And for that area of Atlanta, it’s refreshing to see a place to grab a variety of comfort food. When people think of your restaurant or store, do the items you sell reflect what people would expect?

Despite my original hesitancy to eat there during my visit, I have to admit the “buzz” got the best of me. Although this restaurant may reflect different tastes amongst different individuals, it is easy to conclude they have generated a serious buzz over Gladys’ and Ron’s Chicken and Waffles.

I won’t say if you should visit them or not, but somehow I have a feeling after reading this post you will end up there.

Ok. I want to know. Have you ever been sucked into going to someplace over “buzz”? Share with us.

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Ebony T. Grimsley is the Creative Director and Owner of Above Promotions Company. She is also the recent author of “Because You’re Small: Effective Marketing Strategies for Immediate Implementation.” To find out how to purchase the book, please visit http://www.abovepromotions.com.

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Above Promotions is a full service publicity, marketing and promotions company, founded with the purpose to serve an array of clients that are looking to expand their presence in the marketplace. From a local to international market, Above Promotions Company can provide the exposure that goes above your expectations. Visit http://www.abovepromotions.com today.