Dining Local – A 30-Day Challenge

Posted: December 16th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Comments Off on Dining Local – A 30-Day Challenge

This is a challenge I set before myself not out of a specific moral sense that supporting local businesses is something I should stress and/or publicize more, but chiefly from a place of angst at the level of service encountered when I visited a few chain eateries recently. After a handful of lack-luster ordeals, I thought to myself that perhaps the problem was systematic.

At a chain

  • Bad service is provided by an hourly employee
  • the customer complains to the manager on duty, who is him/herslf an hourly employee
  • the customer complains to a corporate website/email/call-center, where their complaint is maybe resolved but probably cataloged with the rest
  • eventually the data from all complaints gets aggregated, reviewed, and in the good chains, acted upon as a new intiative
  • but in the end, the individual is still lost, and so
  • the Customer doesn’t come back
  • At a locally-owned restaurant

  • Bad service is provided by an hourly employee
  • the customer complains to the owner, a person who is wholly invested in their business’s reputation & future
  • action is taken, and the customer is made to feel valued above the amount of their transaction
  • the Customer comes back more than ever
  • Sure, this is a pretty simplistic view of events, and in all cases there are some really good chains, and some really bad local places, but on aggregate, I think it’s safe to presume that the standard of service is steps above when the staff are in regular contact with someone who cares intensely about the investment they have made in the community.

    So without going into a rant about the events that led me to start this challenge, lets instead focus on what I’m hoping to stick to over the next 30 days.

    1.) Do not eat at any chain restaurants, including fast food, or any place that is not owned locally.
    2.) Yes, breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
    3.) Local chains are okay (I probably shouldn’t hold it against NYPD that they have been successful over the years and opened multiple locations).
    4.) Keep an open mind about the level of service being received, just to stay honest and see if my presumptions were correct.

    I started this challenge back on 12/3 after half-discussing it and deciding that there was no reason to wait until after the holidays. Initially I thought that as I went along I would set different rules for myself as I went along, such as in week 2 only eating at each place once a week, or in week 3 only eating at new places I hadn’t been to yet that month, etc. I quickly realized that breakfast was the constricting factor here, as there weren’t many places along my short (1.5 mile) commute that were locally owned and served breakfast. Sure, this is a hurdle that can be easily overcome with a little more investment (such as leaving the house earlier and/or finding work-from-home locales each morning), so maybe we will still see some of these added layers show up as we go along.

    For now, though, I’ll just be happy getting my sandwich with a smile and thinking to myself that I’m helping reinforce my community.

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