For my day job (i.e., the one that pays the bills while I pretend I’m a writer and blog a lot), I travel a lot. Some months I’m on the road two-and-a-half weeks without a stop home.
As you can imagine, I eat out a lot. Hotel restaurants, well-known chains, and if I’m lucky the occasional locally-owned ethnic restaurant as a change from all those chains. While this does have a positive effect on my reading stats and occasionally on my writing stats, it also has made me something of a expert on restaurant service. Which is not necessarily something one needs to be an expert in unless one is a restaurant critic for a newspaper (and those seem to be in dwindling demand these days, just like book critics). Still, when I experience service that is more than just good, I like to spread the word.
Tonight I ate at a Ruby Tuesdays here in the northwest corner of Indianapolis, just off of 465. I was greeted at the door by Vivi. Vivi is one of those genuinely upbeat, friendly, dare I say even effervescent, people you occasionally encounter. She didn’t just say “hi” and ask “how many for dinner?” “Hello! Welcome to Tuesdays! Dining alone tonight, or waiting for someone? Let me show you to a table.” and so on. Not overbearing or cloying, just upbeat. Same thing upon leaving: asked me how dinner was, as expected, but also responded to my question about how to avoid the massive pile-up of traffic on Michigan Road by walking out to the parking lot with me and pointing out all the possible routes I could take to get back to my hotel, and marveling at how much worse than normal the traffic seemed to be.
I was also impressed with my server, Matt. Set aside for the moment how much he looked like Alex Bennett, the book-blogger over at Electrifying Reviews, which resemblance had me constantly doing a double-take. He did something servers at chain restaurants rarely manage to get right: he checked up on me throughout the meal without hovering or being intrusive (remember, dinner time is reading time for me!) and without being negligent. That’s a hard balance to strike, in my oh-so-humble opinion, and Matt managed to pull it off. He also didn’t make me feel rushed at the end of the meal. I took my sweet time drinking my coffee because I really wanted to get to the end of the chapter in Mira Grant’s DEADLINE, and he didn’t give off that “please pay your bill and move on so I can get another paying customer in my section” vibe that you usually get from servers during the dinner rush. I’m not saying he wasn’t thinking it (I’m no mind-reader, after all, much as I’d like to be), I’m just saying he wasn’t projecting it; another skill many young male chain restaurant servers seem to lack.
I’m obviously living up to my blog’s title, Rambling On, tonight. Kudos to Vivi and Matt at the Tuesdays on Michigan Rd in Indianapolis for how well they treat their customers. I sent a note through Ruby Tuesday’s website complimenting them. I might even go back tomorrow night, and I try never to eat in the same restaurant two nights in a row.