Last night, I visited a particular fried chicken restaurant for what will surely end up being the last time. I’ll miss the food, but not the service.
Enough is enough. As of last night, a certain fried chicken restaurant is off the list of places I’ll visit.
The reason? It’s quite simple: lousy customer service.
If I like the food a restaurant serves, it will generally take a good deal of bad service before I give up completely.
Last night, it reached that point.
We’re talking about one of those chains that promotes itself as a source of Louisiana/Cajun-inspired cuisine. There are at least a couple of chains that sell that kind of fare.
This chain in particular, for some reason, seems unable to grasp what I’d consider to be a basic concept in the fried chicken restaurant business:
To sell fried chicken, you actually have to cook it.
When it comes to chicken, I’m a breast man. So my typical order is a two-breast dinner with a side or two.
This is a chain where I can’t use the drive-through because too often they’ve given me a thigh instead of a breast. (If you’re going to work in a fried chicken restaurant, you really should be able to tell the difference.)
But most of the time, when I walk inside and place my order, as soon as I say “two-breast dinner,” the cashier pauses from ringing me up and peers into the glass serving case and examines two large stainless steel bins of chicken pieces to see if they even have two breasts cooked.
This, to me, signifies that they know they have a problem when it comes to having a sufficient amount of cooked chicken breasts on hand at any given moment. For whatever reason, however, this doesn’t seem to register with any of them that something should be done about it.
Last night, I ordered. It was a little after 6 p.m., so it was in the middle of the dinner hour.
When I placed my order, the cashier didn’t pause to look, which I took to be a good sign.
I was wrong.
Shortly after a worker other than the cashier took my receipt and began to fill my order, she looked through the bin of chicken and saw that there were no breasts cooked.
Before I started getting angry, however, there was a glimmer of hope: she walked to the back and returned with another bin of freshly-cooked chicken.
“Well this is good news,” I thought to myself.
But it wasn’t. She looked through this large bin of chicken — which I’d estimate contained 30-40 pieces of cooked chicken. And as hard as it may be to believe, the kitchen had just cooked that much chicken and there weren’t even two breasts in the batch.
They had two bins full of thighs, drumsticks and wings. (And not many wings, for that matter.)
No apology, either.
If I were the worker in that situation, I’d have apologized for the all-too-common oversight.
“Sir, I’m very sorrry,” I’d have said, “but we have more chicken cooking and it’ll take about 15 minutes. Would you accept anything else or would you prefer to wait?”
That’s not what she said. Instead, she picked through the chicken with her tongs and looked at me and said, “Take anything else?”
No “I’m sorry,” no attempt to express regret for the inconvenience.
And as for that “15 minutes” I referenced in what I would have said, I know that time because very often when I do order, they tell me that’s how long it’ll be before the chicken’s ready.
But that’s how long it takes to cook it from scratch.
That means that they literally wait until someone orders it to drop it in the fryer.
They can’t think ahead any better than that.
I suggested several chicken strips instead, since, this time, she didn’t even mention that more chicken was being cooked. For all I know, the cook had left for the night!
The strips didn’t have the same flavor as the cooked chicken pieces.
And neither the cashier or the employee behind the case honestly acted like they cared whether I got my food.
Unlike them, when I’m the one who’s actually trying to spend my money in their restaurant, I do happen to care whether I get my food. And I care that I get what I asked for.
It’s really not that unreasonable in my mind.
So when it comes to fried chicken, I suppose I’ll have to be looking for other options.
I’ll certainly not be going there again.
At some point today, I’m going to call their corporate office — again! — and tell them what happened. But this time, I’m going to tell them that I’m done with them.
I’m going to suggest to them that they should send their family members there anonymously and have them order what I did. Maybe then they’ll see how little concern for the customer there actually is.
If enough customers who receive such poor service go somewhere else, they’ll finally get the message.
For their sake, I hope they get the message before they go out of business.