During our stay on the coast, we had the opportunity to drive past a barbecue joint every day between our hotel and the center of town. It smelled awesome each time we passed by. I remember locals in the hotel bar mentioning this place by name as the place to go for good food.
The restaurant clearly believed in a good marketing plan as I saw their name in various places around the city and in a local tourist guide. You want your business name to be a household name in your community and they had clearly accomplished that. I could hardly wait to taste their food. I could taste the barbecue in my mouth before we arrived.
Walking in the front door, we saw a large party of eight or 10 people at a single table and all other tables were empty. There was no one to greet us so we stood looking sheepish at the front counter, waiting and waiting. Finally, we decided to just seat ourselves. In hindsight, this was probably a mistake. As I looked around, I saw filthy carpet, thick dirt in the air-conditioning vents, ripped vinyl tablecloths, and rickety old restaurant seats. If a limo or charter bus arrived looking like this, the passengers would probably refuse to get in. I reminded myself that I was not here for the décor. I was here for the excellent barbecue food. If only I could get someone to give me a menu.
I try to never lose sight of the first time I scraped enough money together to charter a limousine for four hours. I kept looking out the window to see if it had arrived. I was so excited. My expectations were so high. Like they are right now, waiting to devour some beef ribs. I knew I was going to write to my friend Tim at BLVD Limousine in Kansas City, the capital home of barbecue, and tell him how fabulous this place was. I would tell him how I had been fulfilled just like that first time limo passenger feels.
Finally, a young man came with menus and apologized that he had “missed us” when we came in. Rather than the standard of taking a drink order while we view the menu, this was simply a menu drop off. The drink order would be taken with the food order and delivered with the food. You are probably wondering why I didn’t just flag him down about getting the drinks, right? I was unable to do so because he took our order to the kitchen and never returned. That only other occupied table was contemplating how to get their bill and how to pay it with no employee anywhere in sight. Here, I go again thinking, “I wonder if this is what it is like when a passenger comes out of club and can’t find their car and driver.” They are ready to go and it was supposed to be a wait and return order except the driver didn’t wait. He went to McDonald’s instead, ruining the limo experience.
I remind myself again, I am not here about the décor and I am not here about the service. I am here for the ribs and they will be spectacular and none of this other stuff will matter. Finally, the moment arrives. These are colossal ribs! They look like perhaps they came from a brontosaurus or other dinosaur. I always try to tug the meat away from the bone on the first rib. Why get all messy if you don’t have to? The meat did not pull away from the bone and felt very well connected. I resorted to using my teeth to remove the meat. I discovered that was not going to work either. I then began using my steak knife to saw through the meat.
To add insult to injury, I stood at the cash register for 10 minutes waiting to pay my bill with not a soul in sight. Hillary had enough and went to the car leaving me to pay with no cash and only a credit card so I was again, forced to wait. Never again!
Make sure the first time you provide service for someone is not also your last time providing service for them.