I can say this because I am an Italian mother. I have got some other stuff mixed in there too, but Italian blood does not sit idly by and let other ethnicities take over! Awhile back I wrote about grudges and how I was no longer going to hold them. (See On Muffin-Tops, Grudges & Excess Baggage). I meant it when I wrote it. I’m really trying to let things go. I’m especially trying to not hold grudges against the people in my life. At this age I feel like I’ve conquered the short fuse. You just get to a certain point where you no longer get upset over the little stuff.
I do, however, still have a very, very long memory. While I may have let it go, I won’t forget it, ever. Okay, okay, sometimes I can’t let it go either! Sometimes there will just be things I need to get off my chest. I will just need to vent. It won’t always be pretty. Today I need to vent about customer service, specifically customer service in restaurants and pubs. (I’ll save the venting about customer service over the phone for another, much longer and much angrier column). Now I hate to sound like an “old” person but seriously what is the matter with people nowadays?
Like many of you, I like to eat out. Sometimes I like to go out because they have something I can’t really duplicate at home, like great Asian food. More often than not, I go out for the friends, the atmosphere and the service! I am lucky enough to live downtown within walking distance of all kinds of great places to go with friends! With the exception of only two that I can think of, I have patronized every downtown restaurant. I have had fabulous meals and exceptional service. I have also, recently, had some really horrible service.
Now it seems obvious to me that anyone running a restaurant or pub should be aware of this but just in case, I am here to offer some helpful advice. No matter how good your food is, if you aren’t nice to us we are not coming back! The key to your success is really that simple! Ignoring your customers is a bad idea. Rudeness is never okay. This is not New York City and you are not The Soup Nazi from Seinfeld. You just won’t get away with it long. Remember, even the most thrifty Mainer will spend the extra money for great food and good service.
Now there are two places in town that have exceptionally good food and ridiculously poor service. I have been to both of them multiple times and each time I enjoyed the food very much. Each time the service was awful! I’m talking about ridiculously slow, completely incompetent, and extremely rude on top of it, every time we went there! Once we sat there for half an hour without water or menu. I have worked as a server. I know how stressful it can be sometimes. I always try to give people that are serving me the benefit of the doubt. Everyone can have a bad day! I always give a place more than one chance, especially when the food is good.
However, like any good Italian mother, when you have crossed or disappointed me one time too many times, there is no going back. You are dead to me. In Italian, it is “sei morto a me.” There is also a hand gesture that goes with this but it is inappropriate to share that here. I keep a List. It not only contains restaurants and Xs. It also includes retail establishments, multiple politicians, and one major Maine business with whom I was briefly employed many years ago. I pass The List around to friends and family and they are expected to stick by it as well.
However, in the interest of remaining positive and upbeat, and in the interest of the BDN continuing to allow me to blog for them, I will not post The List. Instead I will tell you about the places that I feel are worth your time and your money. What are my qualifications for judging local restaurants and pubs? Like you, I spend my good hard earned money there and am willing to spend it often if it’s worth it!
Here is my top 5 list of the best places to eat in Bangor:
- Paddy Murphy’s: The food is simple, but always great! They spice up the usual menu with interesting specials and go out of their way to include items for their vegetarian and vegan customers. The service is always excellent, without exception!
- Chopsticks: The owner, Christine, is also the head chef. She can cook for any dietary preference; meat eater to vegan to gluten free. She will actually sit at your table with you, discuss what you’d like and make you something special and delicious on the spot.
- Luna: Great food, incredible drinks, wonderful service. Every single time!
- Panda Garden: Excellent food, great prices and they always remember you.
- Bagel Central: Everyone’s old stand-by. You know the food will be good. Even better, I can walk in there at 6:45 am on my way to work and be greeted with a smile and my usual coffee order, without having to say anything. You gotta love that!
Now if you aren’t on the top 5 list it does not necessarily mean I don’t like you, or that you are on The Other List. For example, I do not frequent Nocturnem because it is owned by my X. However, two of my children work there and I can guarantee you that they will always provide you with great beer, good food and excellent service! If not, feel free to let their mother know. Or, if I did not mention you it might mean I just haven’t been to your place in a while. There are lots of little places tucked in here and there that I sometimes forget about. You might also be on the list of those I am still undecided about. For instance, you may have great food but your hours are irregular and undependable or I may have had one bad experience but am not yet ready to write you off completely. Either way, don’t give up. There is still time to save yourselves from The List. I know, I know, I guess I’m still working on the grudge thing.