Friday, March 11, 2011

Does service always matter when you're picking a restaurant?

Posted By on Fri, Mar 11, 2011 at 12:30 PM

The plastic bowls are gone from Fazoli's.
  • The plastic bowls are gone from Fazoli's.

The good folks at Gates let you know that they're willing to help you as soon as you walk in the door. Schlotzsky's Deli announced earlier this month that the restaurant chain is relaunching its brand with a new look and table service. And now Fazoli's wants to change customers' perceptions about the quick-serve Italian restaurant by eliminating plastic bowls and bringing bread sticks tableside.

The Bristol News spoke with Fazoli's CEO Carl Howard about the changes that have been implemented in Kansas City, St. Louis and Tennessee locations. But I have to wonder if customers really have high expectations for their silverware when they're dining at Fazoli's?

The changes, which include a revamped menu, are fairly extensive. Howard broke out the features of the "enhanced service program," for The Bristol News:


ESP encompasses three things: a change to the environment - new décor, new paint, new ceiling tiles," Howard said. "We added service so we bring the food to you; and bringing breadsticks around in the dining room. In our price range, that's really unique. The third change we made was we added traditional silverware and platewear. We were selling food for $6 and presenting it like a $3 experience - putting it in foam and foil. Now we're selling them $6 food and you're getting a $10 experience. We didn't raise our prices and we're giving all this service."
Changing the menu or recipes is one thing, but the bowls are another matter entirely. I've had great meals wrapped in butcher paper and food on porcelain plates that I regretted ordering. The container is not always indicative of what's inside. Likewise, I've yet to meet someone who tells me about how nice the atmosphere is at Fazoli's (but perhaps that's why they sought a change in the decor).

Still, I think customers define a $10 experience as $10 worth of food, not $10 worth of ambience and food. When you sit down at a Fazoli's or any other quick-casual restaurant, does the service really matter beyond your food arriving quickly and hot?

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