my point about the timing was more to the pauses and delays.
I think that's a very legitimate complaint.
Indeed. Over the past four initial weeks, at any given time and for any given table, service at Ray's The Classics can be--not is, as a rule, but can be--unevenly paced or less than perfectly attentive (for the record, we have also had several complaints of service being rushed, hurried and overly attentive--go figure).
This is a function of a waitstaff of three and a bus staff of two serving a floor designed to be served, properly, by a waitstaff of six and a bus staff of three, since we made the decision to hire and train only staff members who we would be proud to serve our guests (avoiding those with grave personality disorders and extensive jail time, such as have been discussed on the board recently).
This is why, as some may have noticed, that during service I am not just standing, looking pretty (although I do that too) or gladhanding bigwigs, favored elites and select fews (although I do always seem to find the time to chat up Jenna and Monique, hmm, why is that?), but rather, I am quite busy bussing tables, running food, opening wine, resetting tables and checking on, hopefully but probably not always, every table personally--this in addition to all other oversight, quality control and support duties which the guest doesn't see.
In any case, I do try to make it clear to all guests by my highly visible and involved presence that I am personally available at all points throughout the service to personally address any concerns or deficiencies. I appreciate, at the same time, that not always does the guest feel comfortable doing so, nor is this always appropriate.
I estimate that out of every ten tables or so, I will not manage to prevent all problems that occur or compensate personally for the ones that do at one table or so at any given time. I do feel fairly confident that those instances result in an experience that is, at worst, merely less-than-perfect or less-than-expected, rather than truly horrifying or tragic since I do have an amazing, caring and trustworthy, if at times overwhelmed, core staff.
I expect the risk of imperfect service to be in effect for the next week, possibly two, as we have several excellent people newly on board or in the pipeline.
I hope that all who know me can trust than any imperfect service experience or disappointed expectation is not the result of grandiose or misguided ambitions on my part. I did not expect that throughout August and Labor Day, with Congress out, election year out-of-town campaigning, back-to-school. etc. etc., that we would be sold out every night of the week, even with added-on 5:30 and 9:30 seatings, and with 30-45 waits for overflow seating in the bar area (of mostly angry Suburbanites who feel somehow deceived and defrauded that no one told them they needed reservations and that therefore they are due some redress and compensation and certainly some goddamn service RIGHT NOW).
Remember, I did not advertise, promote, hype or in any way build expectations for the opening of the restaurant--no articles in the Post about how the grill we use to cook over 200 steaks on a Saturday night at Ray's (175 on a Tuesday) cost us well over $300 dollars ($345, to be exact), was delivered to the restaurant in the back seat of my convertible, and was lifted and carried into the restaurant by a single person (me) without even a hand-truck, or how "Ray" is the nickname I gave to the listening device and message transmitter "they" implanted in my head and that I dug out with a pocket knife and buried in the desert one chillingly clear and star-brighted night and whose last message was: "Open a restaurant. No, no, wait--TWO!!" (let's just hope I never get sloppy and name a restaurant "Howie's" and then have to explain THAT one). In fact, the answering machine at Ray's The Steaks doesn't even mention the new restaurant.
In any case, for those who do not know me, I hope you can trust that our prices, principles and overall philosophy do not reconcile with either overblown ambtions or with a waitstaff operating with greed-based prejudice.
All the same, we in the industry recognize that a meal perfectly paced for one guest at one hour and thirty-five minutes is unacceptable at one hour and fifty minutes, and that same meal for another guest is perfect at two hours (without dirty dishes and with bread in front of him of course). And for yet another, two hours is inexcusably rushed.
Our job is to listen, and to learn, and I am most grateful for the (non-accusatory) feedback.
I do wonder, though, how any of us perform, or have performed, the first four weeks on the job, any job, any field. In school, in the Army, driving a car, throwing a pot, making out with your first girlfriend, quieting a newborn, sailing a boat, living alone...