How far would you change a menu item to please a customer?

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by ourplace, Sep 13, 2012.

  1. ourplace

    ourplace

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    I had a regular customer come in for lunch today. We used to change our Menu monthly now we are seasonally. In July we had a Crisp Apple and Gruyer Cheese Sandwich and it was a hit. We changed the menu as normal for us in August then September and removed the said sandwich.

    Right now we have an Avocado, Double Cream Brie, Crisp Apples and Red Onions Sandwich. The Customer asked if she could have the July Sandwich as we served it before. Now I do have a Smoked Ham Off the Bone with Gruyer Cheese on the Menu so we can make that July Sandwich as we have the ingredients but...

    If you do so what happens to every Customer after that who wants a special sandwich? If you say yes to one you have to say yes to everyone. Customer service? or Customer annoyance? My Menu is designed around cost factors and flavour ideas. So if a Customer makes a request outside of the menu options at what point does it stop?

    I read once about a Chef in NY who refuse any and all substitutions or changes to avoid hassles and to maintain The Menu as it was intended to be presented. I like the thought behind that especially when I offer things like Beef Bourgignon Sandwich and the Customer tells me to hold the Sour Cream and the mushrooms, now it is no longer the sandwich I invented.

    Chime in and tell me what you think. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif
     
  2. petalsandcoco

    petalsandcoco

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    OurPlace,

    IMHO, if she is regular , and you have a good rapport  with her, then maybe make an allowance. Only you know who your regulars are and to what extent you would go out of your way to please them.

    I agree with staying with the menu. For  the other 99 %,  keep  your intent of cost/flavours as you outlined.

    Petals.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2012
  3. cacioepepe

    cacioepepe

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    Oh man, I'm glad you brought this up.  My girlfriend (who is also a sous) and I get into this debate sometimes.  Its really the only thing we argue about.  I worked in some of Danny Meyers restaurants in NYC, and if you know him and his philosophy, hospitality and guest services was very important.  If a regular wanted something that used to be on the menu, and we had the ingredients in house, with minimal extra prep, we would do it.  You want everything separate on different plates?  We would do it.  Forget your to go bag in the coat check?  We'd make you a full order and have a manager take the subway to your snooty upper west side house and drop it off to you. (This only happened once.) Overkill?  Yes!  But we set a standard that kept guests coming back and is signature to USHG.

    Was the food great?  Yes.  Was the decor pleasant?  Of course, but what kept guests coming back was that they felt like they were at home, amongst friends.  I know I'm getting off track, but I think it relates to your question.  If you have the ability to go above and beyond for a guest, they will remember it and tell their friends.  More business.  A name for yourself.  Are you opening a can of worms?  Perhaps.  I personally think that if you can do whatever it is, within reason, for someone, you should.  Sometimes you say no and thats ok.

    I realize that the other argument (the one my girlfriend has) is that it takes all of the 'art' out of cooking.  Someone is manipulating what you created and what you know tastes good.  If someone doesn't like capers or eggplant or wants SOS or wants their steak on the fish set, i see no problem with it.  Hell, and charge away for it.  We let our servers know of any up charges that might apply..Yeah its a pain, and yes the cooks will talk smack, but in the end you give the guest a good experience, they'll be back.
     
    brandon odell likes this.
  4. twyst

    twyst

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    Agree 100%.   This is how I was brought up as well.
     
  5. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    If I have it in the house, they have it on their plate. Every Chef and person who owns a restaurant need to remember the customer pays the bills. The person you say no to today, could be the customer you are begging to come in tomorrow. They is one other thing I always found to be true, take care of a mans family in your restaurant, you will have a customer for life. The one thing that made me successful in my own business, was not my great cooking, it was my exceptional customer service................ChefBillyB..........P.S. I took my family to a Restaurant in Portland, Oregon, my wife ordered a Pepsi, sorry we only have Coke. My wife said that's OK I'll just have water, the waitress said I'll be right back. The waitress walked to the corner store and bought my wife a Pepsi. It was a small thing, but I still remember it, as we pass all the other restaurants to go back there for dinner.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2012
  6. chefbuba

    chefbuba

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    If they are paying, I'm cooking.
     
  7. cacioepepe

    cacioepepe

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    Exactly.

    The owner of my resto went to L.A., brought his wife and 9 year old daughter to a restaurant.  "no subs" was printed on the menu.  Said restaurant wouldn't take out the friggin uni from a pasta to sell to this young girl. Such a bad move.
     
  8. chefedb

    chefedb

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    You got the $ I got the time and the product you want..  And if you take care of the kid, the parent appreciates and will remember.
     
  9. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    What is $10?  

    $10 is 1% of $1,000 in revenue, or, if you're running a 2% profit, that's half right there.

    $10 is an extra half hour you can afford for a cook.

    Keep the customer.
     
  10. durangojo

    durangojo

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    i try to  acommodate everyone's 'menu modifications'( we have another term for that but i will be 'ladylike' and not use it).... i will use polenta instead of flour to dredge, sub a spicy glaze on the fish, no teriyaki on the 'teriyaki tuna' sub, sub, sub, etc. etc, etc...anything except the nights special...that's is the one  and only thing you don't get to deconstruct.....period...i am a huge fan of danny meyer's hospitality mission statement but guess i'll never work for him..oh well...ca sera sera

    joey
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2012