One restaurant does not fit all

Think millennials are demanding guests? Try going to a restaurant with a bunch of Boomers—or waiting on their table.

Wait a minute…first you have to agree on the restaurant. And that can take several days of group emails and texts going back and forth until you just want to push “delete” and hit a hotel buffet.

I recently experienced a full-blown example of this when six friends came to Chicago, with several brunches, lunches and dinners in need of planning. Everyone’s a foodie these days, so my suggestions went through several rounds of Internet searches, with the group scouring menus, Yelp reviews, Open Table recommendations and more. We finally came to a consensus and made reservations, and then the real culinary craziness began.

Here are a few outtakes:

  • What? This wine list has no Malbec? That’s the only wine I drink.
  • I want the house special burger. But hold the onions, bacon and special sauce. And make sure it’s very well done…no pink.
  • Can you set aside a plain biscuit on the plate without any gravy? I want to take it home for later.
  • I need a tall glass filled with ice cubes, and please refill it if it’s empty.
  • This sauce is much too spicy. Please take this back to the kitchen and bring me back a plain piece of fish.

I guess my Boomer buddies are no more demanding than paying guests of any age. But even in these days of extreme customization, menus designed for special diets and kitchens that will accommodate almost any request—it’s impossible for one restaurant to please all.  Should you stop trying? No … but maybe it makes smart business sense to set some limits.

During a brunch at a very busy restaurant with this fussy group of friends, we asked if we could substitute grits, one of the listed sides, for the potatoes that came with the omelet. “Sorry, no substitutions,” the waiter said. “What if I agreed to pay extra,” asked my friend. “No, that’s our policy,” was the answer. Somewhat harsh? Maybe. But the place was crowded and the crowds kept coming, so I guess the policy doesn’t hurt business and keeps the kitchen moving. 

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