Embrace your inner valet.

Some people love valet parking…..Drive up, toss your keys to the guy in the logo shirt and go on in.  They are right.

Some people hate valet parking.  They think it is an extra expense, an invasion of the privacy of their space, takes too long, they are better at parking their own car, they have expensive and precious things in their car that they don’t want to turn over to a valet.  They are right too.

Babette’s has a one way driveway and we are obligated by the City of Atlanta’s building code people to have valet because of this.  That’s the bottom line.  We cannot let you take your car down.  The two front spaces are handicap.  You’ll have to park your own car on a side street.

But here are some other issues.

At the bottom of the one way drive we have concrete columns that hold up a 388 square foot outside deck.  The columns are protected by concrete posts in front of them, but the space is quite tight.  If a patron crashed into one of the posts, the deck wouldn’t come down, but their car would be wrecked and so would our posts and our deck would be closed during the reconstruction.  It is a major hazard.

Our parking lot is very tight to turn around in.  There are the poles, there are trees. It would be very easy to damage your own car as well as someone else’s.  If the valets damage a car, they have always told me and their boss immediately.  If they don’t tell us immediately, they are fired.   If someone else were to damage your car parked down in back, they may not report it.  (I backed up into someone’s car parked out front once and humbly went in with my apologies.  The guests were very nice about it, I was terribly embarrassed. )

You really shouldn’t leave valuables in your car anywhere.  Have you seen the signs in the parking lots at Target?  at the Airport?  My valets would rather have their jobs than your computer, but someone walking by (we’re next to a park) may feel differently.

The valets take longer sometimes because they are very busy or because they have to be CAREFUL with YOUR CAR in the rain.  It’s is not because they are goofing around back there.  If the back lot was full of 6 people trying to move their cars around at the same time it would be a cluster ….you know what.  Please take a breath, relax, look at the beautiful plantings at the side of the driveway that my mother and I have been working on.  Admire the pretty new entrance we built in January.  Listen for the owls and crickets.

Recently a guest was pissed at the delay and drove down to park his own car in the pouring rain.  He drove right past the valet, flipped him the bird and backed up into a tree.  Accidents happen and we are always very sorry and embarrassed when they do.  But I truly believe more would happen if we didn’t have valet.

Steve has been with me for over five years.  Taylor is going on two.  They are nice guys. They get stressed, they get people who treat them like poop, they get overwhelmed sometimes. They have a long way to run to come back up and get your car.   Be nice.  They will be nice too.

Traffic=Late Tables. Help!

So Friday nights are the worst.  This last Friday, we had the “Gift Mart” and the Atlanta Boat Show in town, bringing in over 100,000 people.  My hostess received six phone calls (which we greatly appreciate),from customers who were stuck in gridlock on the freeways.  It was raining too, which often creates a mind boggling mess in Atlanta.

The guests were trying to get here but were running late. Most were here within 15 minutes.  Now I have to seat them.  This means the people coming for a later reservation are going to of course be on time and wondering why their table is not ready.  I sat one table 20 minutes late and they were furious.

This is not one of the my favorite moments in the restaurant business.  Most customers are understanding when the wait is 15 to 20 minutes and I guess this is what I’m asking for.  If we have overbooked a table or the service or kitchen has slowed down a meal, I try to make amends with drinks at the bar or extra sweet service at the table.  How many parties should be compensated for a traffic jam and how?  Help me.

We’re not going to touch on the topic of guests who book an early table, knowing that they will never be able to arrive at that time, nor incomplete parties (which is the same as late), nor tables that just come in late and wonder why we are giving them an unpopular table on the back deck or one hour later, nor the guy who moves his reservation via Open Table four times on one Valentine’s night because he just couldn’t commit.  Those topics are for another, less proactive blog post.

Flowers anyone?

My manager wants to suggest the following when having flowers delivered to a restaurant:

  • A tall arrangement is fine if it’s the last celebration before your divorce, but otherwise you will not be able to see your loved one over the flowers.  It will take up too much space on an intimate table for two and looks kind of funny.  She suggests letting the florist know that it’s for a dinner table.  We’ve seem some beautiful arrangements come in the door.
  • Avoid the Stargazer Lily unless it’s your favorite.  The scent is deadly in a restaurant and will have other patrons complaining and asking to move away from your table.