I went for lunch to Ginger Tiger in Indiranagar with some colleagues the other day. It was Friday afternoon, apparently the preferred time for team lunches, and the place was filled with large groups from the offices around. It’s only a small restaurant and the inside space was packed, so we were sent off to sit outside. It turned out to be their corner of Siberia.
No waiter appeared for the longest time and so we manoeuvred ourselves to the buffet counter at the far end of the restaurant. Then, a waiter turned up and shepherded us right back to our tables, saying soup and starter would be served at the table. We returned to our tables and took another 10 minutes for the soup to arrive, another 10 for two plates of momos. There was another grilled starter but that didn’t arrive at the table and so we decided to hit the buffet instead.
Meanwhile, one of the waiters told us we could have a custom-made stir-fry and asked us to tick boxes -- veggies, meat, sauce etc – on the slips that were on the table. We did that and walked up to the buffet. There must have been ten chafing dishes and half of them were empty. The waiters were all scurrying around, looking hassled and when I asked one of them if the dishes didn’t need topping up, he said, ‘Yes, ma’am’, so I waited around for a bit, but the chafing dishes were still empty, so I served myself some rice and salt ’n’ pepper vegetables and returned to my table.
One person at the table asked again for the grilled starter and that arrived mid-way through our ‘meal’ of only half the dishes on the buffet. And, oh, the stir-fry bowl, that arrived long after we finished. And even later, by some strange quirk, waiters brought around another order of stir-fries, asking if anyone had ordered a repeat. We hadn’t.
I have said before in this very space, that good food takes time. But this buffet meal – which is usually a question of walking up and serving yourself – took inordinately long. Besides that, service seemed to be all over the place. A manager appeared, ostensibly to chip in and take some of the pressure off, but displayed such a bad attitude that even I, normally very forgiving of service slip-ups, was riled. That’s when someone at my table said, ‘All we need to do is get on to Zomato and talk about the service here.’
There’s a lesson in this for restaurants, other than the fact that they have to deal with the pitfalls of social media. It’s that people are willing to overlook some shortcomings in the food, but when service stumbles, it usually upsets customers.
What was this particular restaurant doing wrong? Were they understaffed? Surely, they know Friday afternoons are busy times and needed to be prepared for that. Why did it take so long for the chafing dishes to get replenished or for a bowl of soup to reach from counter to customer? It looked like the place depended on the crowd that looks for ‘eat-all-you-want’ offers. But does that mean those customers don’t care about being served well? My guess is that even a simple work flow was not in place here and a not very customer-friendly manager was only dragging things down even further.