Sunday, 30 April 2017

A Restaurant Review: How you sink your business

Just the little things
There are some very fundamental things anyone who runs a business should be doing to be on the pathway to success. Whilst, I will not necessarily dish out business thots, what you put into a business is almost always a reflection of who you are.
If you run a restaurant business, it goes without saying that impressions matter, service is paramount and the setup is more than a revelation. Up in Edinburgh this afternoon, I had checked on the Trip Advisor website searching out African restaurants. I think 9 came up from all parts of Africa and two were particularly of West African cuisine.
Trust but verify
Now, anytime I visit a new place, I do try to search out a restaurant that serves some Nigerian cuisine and I hope it is good.
On Trip Advisor, there were 16 reviews of the African Flavour Restaurant of which 4 rated it terribly, 9 were excellent and 4 with a very good rating. It does concern me when I look at restaurant reviews and 25% of the respondents had a rotten experience, yet, I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt.
On reflection, I was too trusting, the website link for the restaurant from Trip Advisor was defunct but I pushed my luck and called a cab to the place. From the outside, you could see the place was not particularly cared for. On stepping in, two tables were occupied and the other two had not been cleared with leftovers and mess left on the tables.
Invisible for a while
The waiter was attending to two mothers with their kids who had come in to pick up their takeaways, nothing seemed to be done with despatch. I was there for probably 5 minutes before I was noticed and I told the waiter I had come for a meal. There was, however, an instinct to just walk out, but I stayed as he made to clear the tables without any panache and motioned to me to sit down.
Meanwhile, a monotonous cacophony called Nigerian music today was blaring from the television which was linked to YouTube videos. One of the customers who probably was a friend of the waiter was playing jukebox with a mobile phone calling up tracks that suited her listening, though later the volume was turned down. After the mothers had left, it probably would have been better to close the restaurant and having the waiter spend time with the other two customers who seemed to know their way around the place but were no helping hands.
Staff the place properly
I could not say if the man waiting the tables was also doing the cooking, but I suspect that was the case which would mean that adding one more member of staff to the coterie can improve things to ensure the tables are cleared before new customers come in and preferably whilst the customers who had those meals were still at the tables. Separating waiting tables from kitchen duties can make the greatest first impression of a place.
I was hungry and not too keen on going elsewhere, so I hope that the food served would be the redemption of the place. They did not have my choice of peppersoup and the gizzard and plantain combo would have been served without the plantain. Without making too much of a fuss I forgot the entrees and ordered the main course of pounded yam and ogbono soup.
A salvation of sorts
It arrived piping hot as I was informed to wash my hands at the wash basin with wonky taps, I would suspect the soup came out of a microwave oven because it was scalding hot, it could not have been served from a pot on a stove and be that hot.
In any case, I settled into the meal without suffering any life-changing burns and when I finished, I returned to the wash basin to wash my hands only to find the tissue roll dispenser was empty. I returned to my table and wiped my hands with one of the napkins before using sheets of I tissue handkerchiefs I had in my pocket to dry them properly and immediately asked for the bill. I had called my Uber and walked out to it soon after.
Doing the right thing matters
By comparison, the Uber cab was clean, the driver pleasant and the conversation enlightening, but contrast, the restaurant I had just left was dire, lacking in character and ambiance, with a redolent staff incapable of purpose with a slapdash business sense, that restaurant was a business in decline.
A business in decline not by reason of anything but the proprietor of the said business and the person should have no one to blame if that business fails. The Uber driver opined that the neighbourhood was not one of the more salubrious of Edinburgh, however, in my view that is no excuse for bad service of unkempt tables. Nothing stopping the proprietor converting that restaurant into a surprise location like a jewel in the dirt.
Work with what you’ve got
It takes a particular mindset to make the best of what you’ve got and where you are to attract custom. I posted a review on Trip Advisor that rated it average and by terms, it was a generous review. You rarely get a second chance to make a good first impression and in the case of the African Flavour Restaurant, the flavour was not fragrant or tasteless, it was the harbinger of retching nausea if the constitution of the stomach were of lesser resilience.
I endured it, but I would be ashamed and embarrassed to recommend it and if not for my craving and hunger, I should have given that place a miss, the moment I stepped in. It is shame when someone has an opportunity and out of being inconsiderate and incompetent, compounded by rank ineptitude, what could be a showcase restaurant is a rundown dive.
African Flavour Restaurant,
187 Great Junction Street,
Edinburgh
EH6 5LQ
+44 131 554 5537
Open daily from 16:00 to 22:00


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