Here’s one experience I’ve never forgotten and is worth recounting. It’s difficult to believe the lack of service that can be found in an industry where service should unequivocally reign: the restaurant business.

A few years ago, friends and I went to Phil’s Original BBQ in Toronto for lunch. There were seven of us. When time came to settle our bill, we asked for separate checks and the conversation went like this:

Me: “Could we please have separate bills? One for each couple and one for the single gentleman.

Waiter: “We give one bill per table.”

Me: “Oh? …Why?”

Waiter: “Because it’s easier that way.”

Me: “Easier for who?”

Waiter: (dumbstruck, remaining silent, simply handing the payment terminal to me)

I was shocked by the waiter’s lack of understanding in basic service with his “Because it’s easier that way” response. He was obviously looking to serve himself first, the customer second.

A correct response from the waiter would have been something like:

“I’d be more than happy to provide you with separate bills. We’re here to please”. (smile included)

This would have made a huge difference from a customer experience standpoint. Wouldn’t you agree?

It’s understood that generating and handling separate bills for restaurant patrons involves small additional work for the server. However, even this can be mitigated by initially asking the customers/group “Will it be one bill or will they be separate?”, as I’ve witnessed at many respectable establishments.

Incidentally, a short time after our visit, Philly’s closed its doors permanently. I read that an eviction notice had been posted by representatives of Phil’s landlord indicating rent in arrears totaling $31,652.76. In the long run, bad service and healthy revenues/sales are incongruous.

Was poor service the reason of Philly’s demise? We’ll never know. However, failing at service for any business is a sure way to drive a nail in the coffin.

(See this Villa Madina article for another business closure following a bad customer experience)



For Restaurant Owners

Why not ensure all wait staff are trained and prepared to anticipate and efficiently manage separate checks for patrons?

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