In the May issue, Editor Michael Sanson discussed the problem of customers stay too long. You'll also find more comments at http://restaurant-hospitality.com/editorial/customers-wont-leave-0510/. Also,below, you'll find a letter concerning the oil spill disaster.
The first thing I do when customers sit too long is to remove everything from the table. And I do mean everything. Once you take away the salt and pepper shakers and the candle, they are usually gone. If that doesn't work, I approach the table and offer them dessert or an after dinner drink at the bar.
You can go the opposite way and offer the waiting party a drink or appetizer at the bar. The former is more cost effective. You're offering something that they wouldn't order anyway, so the expense is the cost of goods. The offer of dessert or after-dinner drink is sometimes accepted and sometimes not, but the gesture is always appreciated and you usually get the table back without offending anyone.
Typically bar seats are not reservable, so no guest waiting has more right to it than the next. In this situation approaching bar guests, who know there is no reservation for the seats they are in, is a definite no-no. If it comes from an employee, it comes off as greedy. Your best hinting can come from the bartender, who waited on them and hopefully has some good raport with them. Clearing everything is a start, asking the guests directly behind them if you can get them a drink is a next step. You could possibly ask guests if they wanted to get an appetizer because “this couple is just finishing up,” but that is risky. I don't think you can go any farther than that.
The Blue Grotto Restaurant
Because a great deal of fear and rumor currently surround the impact of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, I want to reach out to the national hospitality community regarding Florida seafood. At this time, other than generating considerable anxiety, there is no impact whatsoever on the safety or availability of Florida seafood.
Misinformation is our biggest enemy right now, and is creating a severe economic blow to our state's tourism and commercial fishing industries. I hope we can set the record straight and eliminate any apprehension you or your customers may have by providing a clearer picture of the current situation.
Much attention has been focused on our region's environment, wildlife and tourism. As I write this, Florida is completely unaffected. Our beaches remain pristine and our world-renowned Florida seafood is being safely harvested and shipped.
As Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson has stated, “Florida seafood products are safe and plentiful. More than 90 percent of the Gulf of Mexico is untouched by oil, and Florida's commercial fishermen continue to harvest products from these clean waters.”
To ensure this remains the case, state and federal agencies continually monitor water samples off Florida's coast, and will take immediate action to close any waters unsuitable for commercial seafood harvesting.
Restaurant buyers can and should confidently carry delicious Florida seafood products. Shrimp, oysters, blue crab, grouper, clams — and all the other many fine seafood products that we harvest — are safe and plentiful. There are over eighty types of native seafood available in Florida, and you can support Gulf coast fishermen and their families by offering your customers quality Florida seafood.
We have worked hard to earn your trust and business, and need you now more than ever to buy seafood fresh from Florida. Or better yet, enjoy a tasty seafood meal on a visit to The Sunshine State soon!
The Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association