So let's start on a positive note. On Saturday night we visited The White Rabbit in Harding Road, Dempsey Hill. It looked beautiful. Sparkling lights guided you through a twisted tunnel of greenery to a lovely outdoor bar. Inside, the white colonial church has been transformed while keeping the ecclesiastical character of the place: huge arched stained glass windows, tiled floor and simple wooden furniture. The bar manager was chatty and friendly, opening up an entire world of botanical spirits we didn’t know existed, and we’ve tried a few gin ’n’ tonics in our time. The menu looked enticing, and the staff appeared to accommodate our requests.
But a good reputation takes a long time to build up and word of mouth is the strongest independent advocate. So why won’t I be returning to this place in the hurry?
Service is the backbone of the restaurant industry. Things go wrong – we’re only human after all. Everyone can understand an honest mistake. It’s how you deal with the mistake is the important thing.
I had told the restaurant, who had asked if I had any special requests, it was my husband’s birthday. I didn’t expect a fanfare or a cake with sparklers, but a simple “hello, happy birthday” would have been a nice touch. Costs nothing.
Then came the main course. We waited patiently, with our steaks congealing, for the side dishes to arrive. They didn’t. When we pointed this out we were told that the order had been forgotten and they would take another 7-10 minutes, but they would be on the house. When we’ve already paid S$48 per steak on its own, that’s disappointing. What’s the good of a cold steak with warm sides?
And then staff started to rearrange furniture. In a busy restaurant, when there are several sittings, this is to be expected. Not in a relatively quiet restaurant, at 9pm, where the scraping of tables and shuffling back and forwards changes the atmosphere. And we’re not talking about a few tables. They entire floor was cleared, in preparation for the next day. Staff obviously didn’t want to wait until the restaurant was closed and empty. It would delay them from going home.
So as I say, good service costs nothing. Poor service costs you your reputation.