This is becoming all too familiar, realy nice happy people waiting on tables that nod and say yes to everything but understand very little. This was the second time we had been to the hive as our first experience was very casual and pleasant. This second time was unfortunately nothing like the first which just shouts we are inconsistent. If you are looking to take advantage of happy hour and get lashed in the two hours from 5-7 in the evening then this place is as good as any. The staff are happy smiley nodders that understand little but always seem to want to please.
Anyway back to our experience. We decided to take advantage of the happy hour as this brings drinks down to about £4 per glass (half price) for wine or a bottle of beer. So, we asked the waiter for a drinks menu to which he replied “Sorry we don’t have a drinks menu.” Now forgive me asking but is it not the most basic thing a restaurant has is a menu? Obviously not. So we then ask what wines do you have and with that this happy smiley face reaches into his pocket like a naughty school boy looking for his conkers, conjours up this pathetic screwed up piece of paper from his pocket and carefully unfolds it in front of us. He then starts to read out the wines that he has on the list. Now forgive me for being observant but here we are sitting in a ‘wannabee’ restaurant supposedly part owned by the Irish rugby star Brian O’Driscoll and we have some fourth rate tin pot menu. Recognising that there is now an opportunity to investigate an opportunity for some improvement I ask the waiter to read out the whole wine menu. Once he had finished we then asked what the house wine was. The answer is not important as he took away the order for a beer and house wine. In no time at all he returned, why? Because of the 10 or so wines he listed the house wine had run out! Yes run out and the time was only a quarter past six in the evening. Now its play time, for me. “OK so if you have run out of house wine does that mean that anything else we order is the same price?” I should have said it in Russian as this was now expecting the waiter to step outside of his tick box world and now he was expected to make an executive decision. I gave up before him and ordered another wine which cost another 30% extra.
With the drinks now on the table we are ready to order some food. Be warned that starters are 10-15 pounds and that this is really a finger food place – it is not a fine dining experience. So we stick to the mains and both order rib eye steak with pepper sauce. What could be simpler with a restaurant half full with only drinkers and no one else eating. Hmm theres a clue there! Not to worry we continue anyway as ever the optimists. Well the food arrives or at least most of it does and once again its delivered by enthusiastic happy smiley faces that always keen to say yes. Just as the waiter tries to rush off we ask “what about the sauce for the steak?” “What sauce?” the waiter asks “The sauce that we asked for with the steak.” With that he runs off and in no time returns asking “What sauce?” Now this is all very amusing except we have two small £26 steaks cooling nicely in the evening air. So now I see this as a point to make a process improvement and tell the waiter “the same sauce that we asked for and the waiter very kindly repeated to us before he took our order away.” With that he ran away again. By this time we thought we had waited long enough so carried on with our dinner. After consuming three quarters of our meal the elusive pepper sauce arrives with buckets of apologies and sorreys and more apologies blah blah! “Is there anything else we can get you sir?” I’ll leave the managers of the establishment to work out what should have happened at this point, but for the rest of you the waiter never stepped outside his yse sir no sir comfort zone.
Having eaten our meal the manager decided to walk by a very nice Philipino man and he asked me if everything was OK. I told him to take a seat as this could take some time. This he did and to be fare he listened and seemed to take on board our comments with regard to the wine and food order. At this point we also said that as we were local we had come back to the restaurant because of a previous pleasant first experience. However we also pointed out to him that customers like consistency and that from our experience the hive was failing in that. Also we advised him that he should be aware that when waiting on tables to Europeans then the waiters should not clear any of the plates before the whole table had finished at which point I pointed out to him that my wifes plate had been cleared her chips were left on the table and I had not finished. Now this may be a cultural issue but it is for managers to understand this and train the staff accordingly.
So a very disappointing meal came to a close and we thought that was that. Oh no we then had oodles more apologies from waiting staff and were offered the dessert menu and told that we could have some chocolate dessert as a complimentary gesture of good will. Now why would you give someone a menu show them a list of desserts and then go tell them that they can only have one type of dessert as a means of recompense. We declined, which lead to more apologies.
Would we go back? We probably will because it is right on our door step and as useless as the staff are it is not their fault as they are trained to be compliant and not to understand the customer. It seems to be a common theme out here that because labour is so cheap then the answer seems to always be “lets get lots of staff!” Wake up establishments and start listening to your customers as they will help you to improve.
- Get the wine list printed on a sensible piece of paper
- If you have waiters that struggle to write then get them a tick list
- If you are going to offer a complimentary dessert don’t tell the customer which one they have to choose
- Learn the cultural etiquettes when clearing a table
- Having lots of staff does not mean great staff
- Management, stand back and watch how customers interact, you will learn something