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March 14, 2012

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George Raymond

The one-sentence description belongs on a sign or menu. This is like the custom in many U.S. restaurants of having the waitperson recite "today's specials" orally. Putting them in writing in the menu or on a sheet or sign (with the price!) is much easier for the customer.

George

Clare

To be fair to the employees, the question is a pretty dumb one - "to die for" is no more subjective than "the best".

Had the customer said something like "I'm not keen on salads with sweet things in them. Which salad is the most savoury?", that might have elicited a more specific answer.

I once overheard someone ask an ice cream seller in Florence "which is the best gelato?", to which he understandably responded "it depends which flavour you prefer".

Perhaps the clerk's response should have been "well, what do you like in a salad?"

Leigh

I managed a coffee shop in a "past life." It was standard for new employees to ensure they tasted everything we offered during their first few weeks on the job. I told my staff that even if they didn't like a particular coffee, they needed to know how to talk about it intelligently and positively with customers. We also had many "easy to digest" print resources to help staff describe our coffees in a pinch. Being familiar with all of our products was a huge focus for us, so I'm always amazed when I visit restaurants and cafes where the employees seem unable to make recommendations.

Vincent Casciotta

That would be a nice addition, but you have to also take into consideration the kind of people can be behind the counter. Often times, it's just a teenager or some fellow who took to the job to have some kind of small income. They may not be inclined to remember short lines about each food item.

Adding it to the menu would be a great idea, as George put it. There, you can add even more than just one line about the item. You could add 2 or 3 sentences about the composition of the salad, the taste and maybe what it goes well with.

However, I do love the idea of counter employees knowing how to describe things. Maybe they don't have to remember it. Maybe they could just have a laminated sheet near the register that offers details.

There's a number of solutions, so I don't see why the cafe doesn't entertain them.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hello, George, Clare, Leigh, and Vincent. Thank you for weighing in on this subject.

George, I like your suggestion of a one-sentence description on the menu or sign. I believe it could answer many customer questions. The famous fast-food restaurant in my story does not have menus, just brief names of items on a huge sign above the counter. Perhaps the restaurant could add brief blurbs to the sign, but it is already overwhelming in the amount of information it contains.

Clare, I agree the question was vague. I don't know how the employee might have responded to your excellent question, but I like it.

Leigh, that sounds like a terrific cafe, something with a very different feeling from the huge restaurant chain. Your approach to taste-training, along with print resources, sounds workable and wise.

Vincent, the laminated sheet seems like an efficient solution, even in a restaurant without a printed menu.

Thanks again for taking the time to comment, everyone!

Lynn

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