I don’t think it had happened to me more than once before in decades of eating in restaurants, but it happened twice in the past three days during my vacation at the Jersey Shore:
A server carrying a tray of drinks to my table spilled some of them onto my lap.
In the first instance, at dinner, the spills were a glass of water and a glass of wine — thankfully white wine.
In the second case, at breakfast in a different restaurant, it was a glass of water.
Both restaurants were casual but nice places, with medium-range prices.
In both cases, the servers apologized profusely, and everyone at the tables — including me — assured them that no real harm was done.
Certainly, it could have been worse:
At dinner I was wearing jeans and a polo shirt, and at breakfast I was wearing shorts and a T-shirt. And at dinner, a glass of red wine on the tray went unspilled while at breakfast a glass of V-8 survived without landing on my lap.
Of course, accidents happen and it was just a bizarre coincidence that two such accidents happened so close together in such similar circumstances.
But it raises the question: what should a restaurant do for a diner who ends up with water or wine or other liquid all over his or her lap?
Presumably, if clothing is ruined or requires dry cleaning, the manager would offer to (or insist on) paying for the damage.
But if it’s just a question of blotting the spilled liquids off the table and bringing extra napkins for drying one’s lap? What — if anything — should the restaurant do then?
Offer a free glass of wine, free dessert or other small means of saying “we’re sorry”? Offer an apology directly from the manager?
In these two cases, nothing was offered or requested.
But it got me to wondering about what a really good restaurant manager would do in this situation.
After all, good marketing is more than just advertising — it’s also establishing good customer relations and loyalty, something that baby boomers are known to prize. And sometimes that involves going an extra step — that isn’t necessarily required — in order to achieve it.
I’d be interested to hear any readers’ thoughts on this subject. What would you have expected — or hoped — to happen in these situations?