The reluctance of restaurants, pubs and bars to train their junior staff turns dreams to ashes and leaves tip trays barren. Just as bad – or even worse – it drives custom away.
Two examples from this weekend. A cute bar boasting more than 40 gins has tapped into the Hipster vibe: rough, unplaned wood, scaffolding poles for shelf supports, bare brick, unshaded light bulbs. It’s achingly hip. When asked for a pink gin, the bartender glances at the gin shelves,
”Err, we haven’t got any.” (Well, of course, you haven’t; you’ve got to make it, is what I think, but don’t say)
More hesitation; evidently not.
I know the answer without waiting for the reply. Eventually the bar owner pops up and shows her where to find them. Embarrassment all round: I feel sorry for the girl and angry with owner for exposing his staff to possible ridicule. I am annoyed with myself for showing up the bartender.
I have no inclination to go back.
At lunch in a gastropub the look is similarly informal, shabby-chic unmatched furniture; a well chosen craft beer and wine list. The menu of gastropub favourites looks tempting.
Alas, it doesn’t live up to the allure. Shockingly bad starters are so disappointing that we complain. The poor teenage waitress doesn’t know what to say, but tells us she’ll speak to the chef. We feel sorry for her. The explanations from the chef, whom we can see in the open kitchen, are that the dishes are supposed to be like that. The waitress clearly is not trained in how to respond to these kinds of situations. The reply shows she is getting no help from management.
The breezy young waiter, similar age, keeps saying “No probs, guys, no probs.”
But also has no proper response to make when the date on the wine we order is different from the wine list. OK, it’s common, but what should a waiter say when that is pointed out?
The rest of the lunch is fine, as we expected. The waitress and waiter bustle and keep saying “No probs…” until my guest, getting exasperated, says, “But there are probs”. We agree that to go on in this vein would be cruel. We shut up. And cull the pub from our list.
Tips : The bill for three included a ‘discretionary’ tip of 12.5% We should have struck if off but, knowing how dependent youngsters are on tips, left it on. I hope the management ensures they get it. At no point were we offered any reductions, ‘sweeteners’, or even proper apologies, to make up for the awful starters.