December 01, 2007

Once in a while, Sibylle and I will order take out from the nearby steakhouse and eat at home. By ordering out we get to avoid the crush of people waiting 30 to 45” minutes for a table, and we save some money too. Neither of us needs or wants to eat an entire 9 ounce steak, so we split one, with a couple of side dishes, to make a perfect meal at home.

There are some problems with the process at LongHorn, however. The call into the restaurant is answered by the hostess station. She doesn’t take phone-in orders, so she passes you off to one of the bartenders. The bar is easily the noisiest place in the restaurant, so it is very had for the bartender to hear you, and vice-versa. Once you get to the restaurant, the problems continue.

Again the hostess can’t help you. You have to go fight through the crowd of people sandwiched up against the bar, and attract the attention of the two over-worked people behind it to get your food. I watched my food sit on the counter for several minutes last night before the bartender had a free moment to gather it up and collect my payment.

Some restaurants recognize some people want to get take out and have adapted their processes. Outback Steakhouse, for example, has “curbside takeaway.” When you place your order, they inquire about the type of car that will be used to pick up the food. When you arrive, and pull into one of the designated takeaway parking spaces, they come out to collect your payment and deliver your food.

Increasingly I am aware of businesses that are more responsive to the changing landscape of customer service. That the brand new, just finished construction a month ago, LongHorn doesn’t have a dedicated takeout process tells me that they either don’t experience much takeout business, or they don’t care to attend to that segment of their customer base. Interesting.

We like their food offerings and will continue to patronize them, but I would be very curious to know why their business model doesn’t address carry out customers.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.