Eating out in a restaurant can be a wonderful experience, but it also involves a commitment of time and money — sometimes a lot of money — and if the experience turns out to be less than lovely, we quite rightly feel cheated.
Blaring music, dirty tables, and an overly long menu with cutsie names (“Rock the Guac” instead of just “guacamole”) are some warnings. But there’s one thing you’ll notice right away, before you even reach your table, that is a major danger sign. And unfortunately, it’s something that can happen even at the best restaurants in America.
That one thing is the way you’re greeted — or not greeted — when you walk through the door.
Unless you’re at a casual restaurant where a sign (or a passing server) invites you to seat yourself, someone should be front and center to welcome you, look up your reservation (or take your name if you’re without one), and just generally make you feel like you’ve come to the right place and are going to be taken good care of.
Granted, a host might be temporarily away from the front while seating other guests, but the absence should be brief. If you have to stand around waiting to be noticed for more than a minute or two — or if the host treats you like an annoyance rather than a valued customer — the chances are pretty good that the place has more attitude than aptitude.
Unless you have some compelling reason to stay, just turn around and walk out. Chances are there are plenty of other restaurants nearby that will be happy to have you — and let you know that when you walk in.
Though some signs manifest themselves too late, after you’re already sitting down and maybe even after you’ve ordered, there are more warning signs that you’re eating in a bad restaurant.