Food critic | Mark’s Remarks


I get something in my craw and don’t put a lot of thought into things. This happens to me often. I can be hotheaded, impetuous and might as well have a sign on my mouth that says “insert foot here.”

I’m not above admitting my flaws.

I’ve written about my opinions of restaurants quite often.  I’m sure I’ve made the powers at this newspaper nervous as restaurants tend to advertise in the paper. May I remind you this is an opinion column and my opinions do not reflect the opinions of the management.  

One of our local restaurants seems to have had a tough time for several years, and my judgment is from the outside looking in.  I do not claim to know what this particular restaurant deals with, nor do I claim to know what obstacles management or the owners have dealt with. For all I know, the poor conditions at this restaurant are beyond the control of anyone involved.

However, when I heard last week that this establishment had run out of a main refreshment that is basically a staple of their restaurant and actually part of their name, I immediately posted a complaint on Facebook – something I’m usually against doing.  

What a hypocrite I am.

Many people followed suit, responding to my post with their own negative comments. Someone from the organization posted a reply as well, which made me think twice about my silly post. My own son said, “Dad, how would you feel if your business was trashed on social media?”  

I took the post down.

Now, am I apologizing for the way I feel about restaurants? No, I’m not.  I still contend restaurants should be run well. People who decide to spend money on fast food or any type of “eating out” want good service, good food and good conditions to eat in. They want speedy service.

I had the good fortune to work for a really good owner/manager when I was in high school. We were well-trained. Our owner was liable to pop in at any moment and we had an adult manager there at all times.  We eventually learned how to run every aspect of that restaurant, including ordering stock. A bunch of young kids who are well trained and treated well can rise to any occasion. I think kids are still like that. I’m an optimist.

I don’t understand why a restaurant can’t show their employees how to wipe a table or mop the floor properly. I don’t understand why it seems kids are playing around instead of waiting on customers. I don’t understand why a manager or owner wouldn’t want to have a capable person in the restaurant at all times, watching over the staff.  

There might be good excuses, but I’m not sure I’d still understand.

A community takes pride in their businesses and spends money there, but we also have expectations. Regardless of any positive aspects, it all boils down to good service and good food. People aren’t going to patronize a dirty, poorly run place no matter what that place does to support the community.

It is a shame when a restaurant has dozens of poor reviews on a social media website and many of the positive reviews are posted by employees.

I am guessing poor management all boils down to money and also that we have become a society where the work ethic is going by the wayside. People don’t want to put forth extra effort anymore. Customer service is soon going to be a thing of the past if it isn’t already. Elbow grease, pride in the job you do, and personal integrity are other fatalities of today’s society.

Our owners and managers stood behind us for at least a couple of shifts to make sure we were doing things right. After that, we were given another employee to “shadow.” We weren’t allowed to make food until we’d practiced.  It took a long time to be trusted with the cash register. We had learned to clean and follow the daily “cleaning list” before we were entrusted with good prep, money handling, etc.

After that, we were still watched closely by the powers that be.  

We ate at a restaurant last night and our waitress was training another. The trainee was already doing a fine job, but she was still being watched. The staff was efficient and quick.  The food was hot and well prepared. The restaurant was clean.  

When you have proper management, you can weed out the good workers who want to do a good job from the ones who don’t. As this local restaurant changes hands (thank goodness), we will most likely see new people being hired to help improve the place. We will also see people leaving because they aren’t used to the hard work required to run a restaurant.

I think I’m speaking for a lot of folks.

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