To Lauren,

“Demand excellence and accept nothing less” is a phrase used in business. Bosses tell their employees that when they receive sub par work. CEO’s of companies tell this to their leadership team to motivate them. It is used to make people better and to expect others to be better.

Sometimes I think that people do not know what excellence truly is.

Today when I walked into your restaurant I knew it was going to be rough, or so I thought.

I looked around and saw a lot of dirty tables. There was no host to greet us because she was writing down a drink order. In fact, every employee walked by us looking down. I know they noticed us. They just did not want another table to walk in.

After a few minutes, you waved to us and told us we could sit down in your section, and you would be right with us. When we got to the table, it was dirty. I saw a sanitizer bottle and towel next to it so I cleaned it. You seemed embarrassed that I did, but I did not mind. I just wanted my family to eat.

When we sat down, you smiled and introduced yourself to us. You asked for our drink order, and I gave it to you along with my family’s food order. Although we have never been into your particular restaurant, my family is very familiar with your brand. We eat there quite often.

I did have some specific requests. I wanted my children’s food to come out as soon as possible because they were so good all day, but I knew they were getting hungry. I wanted my steak as rare as possible, and my wife wanted her enchiladas without cheese.

You brought our drinks ten minutes later along with some chips and salsa. Then we did not see you again.

Moments later my kids food came out. My son and daughter were thrilled because their food came out just the way they wanted it.

While my kids were eating, the table behind us wanted to see a manager. They could not believe how long the food was taking and complained that they were in a rush. The manager came out and apologized but could not get out of the wrath of “I cannot believe how bad this is we are never coming back this is unacceptable” monologue from the guest.

The table next to them chimed in as well. The manager once again apologized and offered to but their food.

Then another table did the same thing.

While my kids were eating and laughing, I looked at my wife and told her not to expect our food to be right. I told her that we would get food on the way home for us.

Sure enough, when our food finally arrived, my steak was well done, and my wife’s enchiladas had more cheese than Wisconsin.

I looked around and noticed something. You had eight tables at one time. That is a lot of tables for one person, but you had no choice. You were busier than expected.

I saw that the four servers on the floor were working together. I saw that you all were asking for help although you were all extremely busy.

I saw the host trying hard to help the servers.

I saw a manager who did not yell or freak out. I saw a manager asking his staff if they needed anything although he was needed everywhere.

I knew you were busier than expected. It happens to me all the time. Managing would be easier with a crystal ball and a limitless budget. It is not like that. There are a lot of times when servers call out of work. There are times when you cannot afford to have on six cooks, so you have two. There are also times you are told by financial wizards that you will be slow on a particular day only to be up by 40%, so you do not staff that heavily and look like an idiot.

I spend many days like this. This was one of the first times I was on the other end. I was the guest. I was the person who could have given the angry speech.

Usually, I am that manager who asks if everyone is okay. I am the one who is told how to manage by every customer that comes in.

But while other tables around me saw inferiority, I saw excellence. Sure, my food was poor. My wife could not eat her food. We knew that from the moment we walked in. But my kids had a great time, which means a lot to me. I saw a staff work as hard as they could at the moment. I saw a staff not realize they would be as busy as they were and not give up. I saw a group of people work together knowing they would lose.

Well, you did not lose in my mind. You all are winners.

So while other people might complain on those fancy computers on the tables, I will tell you that I will not. I want to let you know that my experience was enjoyable because I know you all tried as hard as you could. I also want your corporate office to know that as well.

Everyone has been in the situation you have been in. Honestly, it would be easy for me to complain.

Honestly Lauren, why would I complain? My family had a great time at your restaurant.

Sincerely,

Tony Posnanski

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