Lifestyle

Restaurants Eliminate phone lines, making employees’ lives easier

Harley Esposito, 30, was surprised when she couldn’t find her phone number Hotel Greene, a mini golf course, bar and restaurant space near her home in Richmond, Va. After arriving at the Greene Hotel for a business event, she needed a copy of the receipt. Looking through Hotel Greene’s website, she found a small note: “We don’t have a phone line.”

“I did a Google search and didn’t see the phone number listed, and I said, ‘Oh, that’s weird.,” she said. “I was just surprised by it more than anything, because I had never seen it before. I asked: How do they expect people to contact them?”

Like Hotel Greene, restaurants around the country are unplugging their phone lines. Switching all communications through email, direct messaging on social media, and booking apps can frustrate diners and discourage tech-averse, but restaurants have found that Following this, it frees up time for wait staff, is more efficient for restaurant administrators, and offers flexibility for restaurants operating with a small group or through related staffing shortages. to Covid.

During the first month of business in the summer of 2019, Hotel Greene will receive a flurry of calls to the front desk asking about waiting for a table. Mr. Gottier said that a server that gives people waiting times in advance can be fruitless because wait times can change rapidly in real time.

“It’s just this constant beating,” said Jim Gottier, 67, co-owner of Hotel Greene, and added, “paying someone $15 an hour, or whatever, to get It’s outrageous to do that. ”

However, this approach is not universally appreciated. For example, in December, Hotel Greene received an email from a frustrated prospect complaining about not being able to play mini golf because of waiting times.

“Another option is to have a phone to call first. Instead, I wasted 25 minutes driving there and $3 parking only to be turned away by an outspoken person who didn’t seem to even feel bad about their decision,” emailed know.

“People were very angry,” Mr. Gottier said. “You wouldn’t believe it.”

For some restaurants, the decision to give up the phone is an easy one. Co-owner of Singaporean vegan restaurant Lion Dance Cafe in Oakland, California, never liked talking on the phone. After hosting pop-ups around the Bay Area for about a decade, CY Chia, 32, and Shane Stanbridge, 32, opened Lion Dance Cafe in September 2020 and for months they were employees. only.

“Since we were running around shopping and making all the food, it felt like picking up the phone would be too much of an obstacle,” Mx. Chia said. “It wasn’t even a big decision for us. It was just an obvious call.”

To get to Lion Dance Cafe, people email or message its Instagram account directly, although this can frustrate older potential customers, Mx. Chia said.

In ugly baby, Sirichai Sreparplarn, 52, the restaurant’s chef and co-owner, said that at a Thai restaurant in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, nearly all of the customers are millennials or younger. You must be on Instagram to book a table, view the menu, or communicate with the restaurant. Mr. Sreparplarn said the system made it easier for small employees and kept the restaurant running as usual.

“We just wanted to be a restaurant in the wall,” he said. “Personally, I think websites are not for 2021. We don’t need a website, and this is my opinion. I consider IG to be a website where we can interact with our own customers instantly, wherever you are, with more information. We can do it really fast. ”

Gregory Ryan, 39, owns and operates two restaurants in California’s Santa Barbara County: Bell’s and Bar Le Cote. Neither restaurant has a phone line, Ryan said the decision was made because they have small teams. People come to Ryan and the restaurants through email and direct message on Instagram, which he says “is a great way to be able to connect and talk to people in very, very fast ways”. After running a restaurant for 15 years, Mr. Ryan says about 80% of phone calls are “usually a waste of time”.

“It’s no one’s fault,” he said. “I’m sure it annoys people. We try not to be like that. What’s better for my business is my day-to-day mental health and the mental health of my employees – for me, it’s not answering the phone.”

Mr. Ryan said that even if the restaurant can afford to hire people to answer the phone, it still has no meaning for business performance. Focusing on the guests inside the restaurant, especially during a pandemic, is more important, Ryan said.

“I think post-Covid there’s a focus and interest in the guests in the dining room and trying to make sure they feel like they’re being cared for and engaged, and that’s what you do. Mr. Ryan said.

His phone-free philosophy has spread to at least two other restaurants in California. Charlotte Lansbury, 29 years old, does administrative work for Horse, a restaurant in Los Angeles that opened in October. After dining at Bell’s and getting to know Mr. Ryan, Ms. Lansbury said she brought the idea of ​​no phones to her old workplace. Gigi’s, another Hollywood restaurant. When she started working at Horses last fall, Ms Lansbury said she wrote a “long, wordy” email to owners and management explaining why Horses shouldn’t have phones either. They agreed.

“It was just a waste,” she said. “I’m glad other restaurants are doing it, too, to save their inept owners and hostesses from having to deal with people saying on the phone, ‘I’m late.’ It’s definitely controversial, but from a restaurant perspective it’s the best.”

Ms Lansbury said she manages the restaurant’s email and Instagram during service in case any messages come in from people who may be late to their reservation or have other questions.

However, there are many restaurants that see the value in having a phone and a dedicated reservationist. Lisa Blount, 56, who works in marketing and public relations for Antoine’s restaurant in New Orleans, says having a phone line is “really important,” although that’s not the only way diners make reservations these days.

“If I can call customers and talk to them, there’s nothing better than that,” she says. “I love OpenTable as much and it helps us to book online, it doesn’t replace that phone call.”

The staff present at Antoine’s had to take turns answering phone calls when the reservationist became ill with Covid-19. Blount said talking to people on the phone and explaining safety precautions and dining arrangements is especially helpful during a pandemic.

“I think the current world has missed out on human contact,” she said. “We have dehumanized everything.”

Communicating with restaurants via email, text messaging and direct messaging may also be more convenient for some customers, including Tricia Dado, 22, who lives in Vancouver, British Columbia and works as a salesman goods at a furniture store. The day before New Year’s Eve, she posted on Twitter: “Wdym I have to call the restaurant?? Please no, I’d rather cook for nye all day than make a phone call. She ended her tweet with a smiling face with a tear emoji.

“Personally, I find it very convenient to simply call and order food for delivery or make a reservation on a website,” she said. “I also think that digital communication will be beneficial for restaurants on their part, as they will receive orders online, instead of one person taking orders over the phone each time, which can cause problems. tired.”

Ms. Esposito – who was a bit inconvenienced by having to wait three days for an email response from Hotel Greene – is still understanding the choice.

“One of my first thoughts was how lucky those employees are that they don’t have to worry about answering the phone during their shift,” she says. “I know how much time can take away from you when you’re working in a restaurant, and especially if it’s a busy night and the phone is ringing. That can really take the time of people already there and trying to enjoy themselves. “

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/28/dining/restaurant-phone-line-call.html Restaurants Eliminate phone lines, making employees’ lives easier

Fry Electronics Team

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