A somewhat scattered collection of notes, thoughts and ideas

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Reviews and Recommendations: Ed's Easy Diner


This week I will be reviewing Ed's Easy Diner, in Watford, where we went for dinner last Thursday evening, 9th June.

First impressions
Let me start with my first impression, which I got when calling to book a table. The person answering spoke clearly and was easy to understand, which you may or may not think is important, but believe me, it can be rare.

Upon my asking if I can book a table, I was informed that they do not take reservations - this is fair enough, as many restaurants have a first come first served arrangement, however it would be useful for groups and larger parties, for special occasions for example, to have that small guarantee of a table.

Having been told that I cannot book a table, I asked whether a table for 4 people would typically be available for the time we were looking to book - at 7:45/ 8pm. The reply again was clear, but having interrupted before I had finished speaking, the person answered my question regarding 7.30pm instead - which was too early for my needs.

I thanked him for the information, and then repeated that I was looking to arrive closer to 8pm. Upon this, he said that around that time should be fine, and that it can be busier closer to 8.30pm, as they start to close up around 8.40pm, because the shopping centre shuts at 9pm. Following a few additional questions, I also discovered that the last food orders are taken at 8.40pm.

Arriving at the Restaurant
When we arrived at the restaurant, we were greeted by a server and seated immediately. Left alone with our menus, we noticed a significant difference since the last time we had been there - there was less choice and the prices appeared to have gone up; not the best combination. It took us a while to decide from the menu, which is not a good sign when the choices have decreased in number, but we eventually settled and the server came to take our order. I opted for the Ed's plate but asked if I could change one thing, as I don't like coleslaw. Without listening to my full question, the server interrupted me to inform me that they don't do swaps. I explained my reason for the question - I don't like coleslaw, he repeated the same information.

When our food arrived, I was surprised to find I had still been given coleslaw, despite making it clear that I don't like it - I had expected them to not give me any so as not to waste food. Luckily, my friend does like coleslaw so I gave mine to her.

One of the things I had liked about Ed's in the past, and continued to be a selling point for me is their mini jukeboxes - 20p per song and the money goes to charity - so I was disappointed to find that our jukebox had a coin stuck in it and meant we were unable to play anything from it. This triggered a conversation about the last time we had been there and sat at another table to find that that jukebox was also not available to use, due to a stuck coin. When I mentioned to the server about our jukebox, he offered no apology for the disappointment, but merely responded "yeah that happens sometimes as people put 10p's in them, plus they're not the best quality". I would have thought that if this was something that happened often, Ed's would have either invested in better machines, or instructed their staff to check the machines each evening before closing, and each morning before opening in order to avoid disappointing their clientele. Alternatively, if people were putting in the wrong coins, the staff who seat customers could draw attention to the jukeboxes, as a selling point, and mention that the machines only take 20p's, to avoid the wrong coins being used. Finally, it is never good for staff of a restaurant to insult or draw attention to something negative about their place of work - at least not while in uniform and to potential customers.

Time to leave
Meal finished, we asked for the bill and discussed between us how we found the food - the overall consensus was that the food was alright, but perhaps not worth the money. The server came to give us the bill and asked how many of us were paying on card - only one person. She informed the server that she knew the amount, to which he jokingly replied "oh phew, saves me trying to do the mental maths". I appreciate that staff may be encouraged to keep the interaction with customers lighthearted and friendly, but that particular comment did not paint our server in a good light, and through such a comment it suggests that Ed's don't have a high standard they keep to when hiring staff.

To top it off, the other two of us who attended the meal, paid cash and were due to get change back from the server, yet after 10 minutes sat waiting for him to reappear with this, it became apparent we were not going to get this back. Worried that we would get stuck in the car park because the shopping centre was shutting (we made it out just as they were locking up), we left, unanimous in our decision not to eat there again.

Recommendations for Ed's Easy Diner

1. First come first served is fine, but this could lose you the custom of larger groups and parties for special occasions as there is no guarantee of a table for them

2. Encourage your staff members to practise their listening skills - I was interrupted twice in this last experience and in one of the two incidences I was given irrelevant information because of this and had to repeat my question.

3. a) If you're going to offer potential selling points like the mini jukeboxes on the tables, make sure you tell your staff to check the machines are working before opening and after closing, and in between where possible, otherwise customers will be disappointed and it doesn't leave a good impression.

3. b) Following on from the above, if you have this selling point, draw attention to it when you seat your customers - not every table has one, so if the table you seat your customer at does, point it out and let them know how it works - they'll appreciate the information, and no doubt so will your partner charity.

4. Don't change the entire menu all at once, change one or two things to begin with, and then see the result and go from there. Also, if someone says they don't like something, even if you can't be flexible, don't give them it anyway, as it will most likely go to waste, and a restaurant known for wasting food is not a good thing.

5. Finally, make sure that staff know what is and isn't acceptable to say when interacting with customers - their words can and will reflect back on the company.

As I explained in my introductory post, these reviews are meant primarily as feedback for improvement for the restaurants and not as slander, therefore a link to this post will be sent to Ed's Easy Diner privately.

I hope this has been helpful. Please feel free to leave me a comment below. Also if you have any requests for reviews, please let me know.

Keep your eyes peeled for the next Review & Recommendations post which will be about Chiquito Restaurant Bar & Mexican Grill in Hemel Hempstead, following our visit there this evening.


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