The more I eat out, write about eating out, and eat out with my family, the more I realize I’d never want to run a restaurant. The line between success and failure can be just one small thing.
That one thing, for my mom, was a $5 tiny glass of fresh squeezed orange juice.
My family visited from Chicago a couple weeks ago, and we took my parents, my kids, and my cousins to a restaurant in Minneapolis. The food was great, the hosts were gracious, I really enjoyed it.
There was a kids menu, reasonably priced at $6-$7, with delicious, fresh, wonderful food. But it didn’t include a drink. My five-year-old asked for orange juice, and out came a little glass of freshly squeezed OJ.
It was probably 4 ounces. $5. I didn’t think much of it—it’s freshly squeezed, it probably took a couple oranges, what’s an orange or two cost in October in Minnesota?
But when we left, my mom said, “I’d never go there again.” I was surprised—she liked her food. I asked “Why?”
“Sammy’s breakfast cost $12,” she said. “$5 for an orange juice? You’ve got to be kidding me.”
One small thing.
As writers, we talk so much about the quality of the food, the execution, the ingredients, the concept. We don’t talk enough about service, in my view, because I think that’s one of the most important things real customers care about.
But a restaurant can nail all of that, and still lose a customer because of one small thing.
I’m not sure what to make of it. Is my mom right? I don’t know. Is it crazy to spend $5 on a 4-ounce drink for a five-year-old? Is $5 too much for freshly squeezed orange juice? Probably not.
If you have a kids menu, should you include a drink? I don’t think so, but I do think you should offer a kids-sized, kids-priced drink.
I’d be interested in your thoughts on this. What’s the one small thing that’s kept you from coming back to a restaurant? The one small thing that makes you fall in love with a place? And what is the right approach to a kids menu?
Bottom line: It goes to show you how tough it is to succeed in the service industry. One small thing. That’s all it takes.