A Dog's Life

By Jay Shifley

I’m always looking for new business ideas.  Whenever I’m in a store, restaurant or other type of business, I watch.  Sometimes I ask questions.  I never make suggestions, though, because I think it sounds presumptuous—and no one listens to me anyway.  Who wants free advice from a stranger?

I was in a steakhouse the other night.  This was the only steakhouse in town, and I have been there many times before.  My experience is always the same—the service is adequate, the food is a bit below average.  It’s definitely overpriced.  I go there because my 78 year old mother likes to go there.  So I take her.  I think she likes to tell people her son is taking her out for dinner at this restaurant.

But I watch a lot at this place.  What really intrigues me is the culture this restaurant has created with its employees.  It’s very consistent.  We usually have something go wrong:  once there was no prime rib on “Prime Rib Special” Sunday.  Once my son’s burger was not prepared properly.  The buns are stale most of the time.  A couple of times I complained, and it was quite hard—unreasonably so—to get the issues resolved.  Every waiter there communicates, ever so slightly but unquestionably, that the customer is bothering them.  “Just take the food,” they communicate, “pay me my tip, and go on your way.”

On the wall when you enter the restaurant are several photos of a black Labrador (the restaurant is named after the founder’s dog).  Some have captions, some don’t.  But what’s communicated by the captioned photos is that dogs are much more reliable, and faithful, than people.  People are slightly distasteful.  And it’s interesting that the attitude of the staff communicates this as well.  I wonder if the management understands that the culture of this restaurant has been created by a dog.

Here’s what I learned:

  1. If something is consistently wrong at a restaurant, it’s either you or the restaurant.  Make sure it isn’t you before you complain.
  2. People who love dogs more than people should not be serving people. They should be serving dogs.
  3. Don’t give unsolicited advice. No one wants it, especially if you are a stranger.
Originally written: September 25, 2017

 

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