Sunday, January 15, 2006
We address Friday nights at Rich O's, the smoking policy, and other concerns.
The Curmudgeon (upper case “C”) is not about to rain indiscriminately on the parades of fellow curmudgeons (lower case “c”), all of whom know quite well what it’s like to feel, well, a tad curmudgeonly.
At the same time, as a business owner, I’m obliged (and in fact eager) to respond to the concerns and comments of our customers, who in turn are encouraged to provide their critiques and suggestions whenever the mood strikes.
Of course, I understand that such comments almost always are offered in a constructive manner, and as such, they are highly appreciated.
Thus, here are a few thoughts from a Rich O’s regular, as posted on his blog. Granted, I don't believe he was expecting a response, but because the issues raised are timely, I thought I would, anyway.
I don't think I like this new Rich O's very much. This new Rich O's where all of the assholes that used to stay out front, out of my way, are now suddenly compelled by the new smoking policy to come into Rich O's proper.
It's just so fucking crowded.
One of the PBDs remarked that the crowd was certainly good for the owners, and I have to agree that this is true. For now. But what happens when all of the regulars get so sick and tired of standing around all night waiting for a place to sit that they stop bothering to come in at all? What happens when they decide that it's not even worth checking to see what the crowd is like? What happens when they just go somewhere else?
I don't know the answers, and I don't have any solutions. I am pretty sure, however, that doubling the size of the place, but reserving that new space for port tastings and other "special" functions, when it's asses to elbows every single fucking Friday night - well that just doesn't seem like the most brilliant thing I've ever heard of.
Here are my thoughts in response.
The new smoking policy roughly doubled the perimeter of the previously delineated non-smoking section, and was undertaken owing to customer demand, especially insofar as larger groups are concerned.
Adding together the total seating capacity of Rich O’s and Sportstime Pizza, more than half of the seats still are smoking seats, and all the Sportstime seating area remains smoking friendly.
“Regular” customers are the lifeblood of any business, and it’s important to know that there are “regular” customers who have always congregated around the bar area (“Rich O’s proper”), but others who’ve sat and dined at tables in front, where smoking now has been eliminated.
To be truthful, demand for non-smoking seats from these regulars has consistently outpaced specific requests for seating where smoking is allowed.
There’s no doubt that henceforth, it will be more crowded in the bar area. At the same time, winter’s the busiest time in all respects, and in better weather, some customers will prefer to step outside and smoke. This coming spring, we hope to get started on a modest outdoor seating area. State law requires access to be from the Sportstime dining area, but in spite of this minor inconvenience, such a space could become a good draw in temperate weather and relieve the strain indoors.
As for Friday evenings in particular, ask any restaurant or pub owner in Louisville how well Mondays and Tuesdays do by comparison with Fridays, and try see how difficult it is to have consistent policies, procedures and service when seemingly every customer wants to come and eat right at 7:00 p.m. on Friday. It’s very, very hard to be efficient on Friday.
Our new banquet and conference area was not designed for overflow seating one night a week, because to use it that way would offer no help for the real problem we have, which is serving food. The kitchen’s simply not big enough to serve meals in a timely fashion to those extra people who would be seated in the new room – something that already is almost impossible on a Friday evening without seating there.
Pre-arranged functions can be operated according to a fixed menu and prepped beforehand.
Balancing the competing interests of smokers and non-smokers – and regulars and casual visitors – can be daunting, but we’re trying to forge a compromise and adjust conditions as we observe them.
By the way, as to a related point, I'm sorry we ran out of Weihenstephan and Baltika. They come from Cavalier in Indy, which delivers once every two weeks, and if we get a sudden run on product, there's no chance to order again for several days. Both beers should be back in stock by mid-week.