Making it worth a millennial’s wait

I’ve often heard mention of millennials being the “right now” generation. We want things immediately; waiting is not an option. Researchers even confirm this with statistics. According to Technomic’s recent 2014 Generational Consumer Trend Report, 40 percent of millennials rate fast service highly important when deciding which QSR or fast casual to visit. But sometimes stats don’t tell the full story.

Last week, I visited two different restaurants for dinner in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood. There must’ve been something in the water, because the wait for food after placing my order was well over 30 minutes, not an acceptable ticket time for standard fare without any special requests. But it was differences in the service that had me forgiving one while vowing to avoid the other from here on out. Here’s a side-by-side look at some of the best and worst practices that made the difference during the long wait time:


Restaurant A

Restaurant B

At the counter-service taco joint, the staffer at the register (also clearly the manager) informed us that the kitchen was backed up, and that the wait would be 10 to 20 minutes. He asked if this was okay before taking our order. He then handed us complimentary cups for drinks while we waited.


After a 45-minute wait for a table at a sushi restaurant, we ordered right away. The two tables next to us were sat after we placed or order—yet both of their meals came out before ours. We knew there was an issue. Even the couple next to us leaned over and said, “I’m pretty sure he forgot to put your order in.”


Kitchens are notorious for foul-mouthed cooks, but the expletives flying from the open kitchen made for a tense atmosphere. After all, parents don’t love f-bombs constantly dropped within earshot of their small children. But we watched as the manager took the feistiest of the cooks out back for a scolding.


Radio silence. The server ran past our table, not checking on us or reassuring us that our food was in the works. We even had to flag him down for drink refills. And when we asked if our food would be up soon, he told us it’d just be another minute. Ten minutes later, we were still waiting.


Recognizing that we were still waiting, the manager jumped on the line to crank out our food. He apologized profusely, insisted on refunding our money and begged us to “give [the restaurant] another chance; this is not how we usually do business.”

Once the plates were finally delivered, that was the last time we saw our server until he dropped the check at the end of the meal. Not once did he apologize for the wait, or even acknowledge it.

They have a new regular. And not just because of the unique menu; because of the customer service. A member of the staff not only acknowledged the wait time, but jumped in to do something about it.

They lost a regular. By completely ignoring our table, literally running past to avoid addressing the issue, the server showed a complete lack of compassion for his diners. 



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