Mistakes happen at restaurants -- it's what happens next that's more important

Categories: Cafe Society

Mistakes happen -- that's part of life. So it's what happens next that matters most.

When mistakes happen in restaurants, I'm always curious to see how the front of the house will react. In my review of The Kitchen Next Door Glendale, I write about one such mistake, the time a busser splattered mussel broth all over my husband's shirt. "Oh, God! I'm sorry," he gasped, then walked away. The server didn't come by, nor did the general manager, which wasn't the reaction I would have expected from the Kitchen Next Door.

Turns out it's not what Nick Doyle, executive general manager of all three Kitchen Next Door locations, would have expected, either.

See also: Behind the scenes at the Kitchen Next Door Glendale

Although the employee got the first part right -- and that's apologizing -- staff members are supposed to "get a manager involved straight away," stresses Doyle, who's a proponent of good hospitality and considers Danny Meyer's Setting the Table required reading for all general managers. "Let's make it right for the guests."

He says a similar incident happened at Next Door Glendale once with wine, not broth, and the guest was compensated for the dry-cleaning and given a gift certificate.

Bob Blair, chef-owner of Fuel, has also read Meyer's book and takes a similar approach to mistakes. "The first thing would be to say, 'I'm so sorry, it's all my fault. Let me get the manager so we can take care of that,'" he says. When such an event occurred at Fuel last year, Blair says the customer was told to send in the dry-cleaning bill, and within a week it was taken care of.

To Blair, the gesture isn't just for the person involved, it sends a statement to everyone nearby. "You're doing it so everyone knows you'll take care of it," he explains. "It's reassuring to the others around that table watching."

Jeff Osaka, chef-owner of twelve, tweaks this approach to make things even simpler for an inconvenienced guest. "A lot of people say, 'Come back and give us the receipt,' but we just take the average off," says Osaka. "We take twenty bucks or fifty dollars for a nice dress off their bill, instead of having them go out of their way to have to come back."

Have mistakes happened during your dinners out? How did the restaurants respond? Spill your stories below...

Location Info

The Kitchen Next Door

658 South Colorado Boulevard, Glendale, CO

Category: Restaurant

Fuel Cafe

3455 Ringsby Court, Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

Twelve Restaurant - CLOSED

2233 Larimer St., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

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Many years ago, there was a cafeteria-style restaurant downtown that served many variations of chili.  The guy in line behind me wasn't paying attention and dumped his bowl of chili down my back and the restaurant staff did nothing.  It obviously was not their fault, but there was not even an offer to help me clean off my winter coat, which was dripping with chili.  I had to go back to work to clean up and did not get the lunch that I had already paid for.  I never went back to the restaurant.

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