Last year, full of naive optimism that the newly-launched workplace Restaurant Suggestion Scheme might actually be interested in its customers’ suggestions, I made three suggestions. I used the proper form, and posted it in the proper box, using plain English and nice polite language. My suggestions were intended to make the restaurant easier for customers to use, easier for the restaurant staff to work with, pleasanter for people who drink tea, and less wasteful of precious foodstuffs.
My suggestions were:
Suggestion 1. Introduce an honesty payment box so that people who have the correct change and are wishing to buy things can do so quickly, rather than waiting for the harassed members of staff to finish making the complicated food orders and coffees, before they can take payment. Meanwhile, my food’s getting cold, and look, I have the correct change right here – can I just give it to you without waiting please? NB: My organisation is the most boringly honest you can imagine – it’s common for an unclaimed 5p to wait patiently for its owner for weeks before someone takes the initiative to put it in a charity box. No-one’s going to leave without paying enough for their food.
Suggestion 2. Do a better job with tea. Currently, if you order a small cup of tea it costs about £1.20, for which you receive one mug/paper cup, one teabag, and a slosh of boiling water. The rest you do yourself, which entails delaying your colleagues whilst you brew, add milk and sweetener, ditch the teabag, etc. The restaurant’s profit margin on this, even accounting for staff’s time and washing up, must be close on 95%. So I requested: please could they provide tea in a small tea-pot, milk in a small jug, and an empty cup on a tray, so that beleaguered tea drinkers can enjoy their tea ceremony, to their own taste, as much as coffee drinkers get to enjoy theirs. Yes I know the whole teapot-milkjug-tray thing is a faff, but so is spending 90 seconds creating each sodding fancy-pants coffee.
Suggestion 3. Sell perishable items at a discount in the final ten minutes of serving time. Surely it’s better to get rid of all those cooked chips, heatlamp-dried lasagnes, and wilting salad leaves at 50% off, than just let them go in the bin? It’d be the Easyjet of staff cafeterias: you wouldn’t have much choice and you’d have to wait until a potentially inconvenient time to eat, but it would be cheap and less wasteful!
Response from the restaurant management
For months, I heard nothing, despite putting my contact details on the suggestion form. Subsequently, I re-submitted my ideas via the Catering Liaison Group, or somesuch, and finally received a response.
- No chance. “We need staff to write down each and every item we sell in order to track sales”.
- No chance. “We already make proper tea”. (Harrumph. This is why I’m boycotting them).
- I never heard back about this.
I could respond the their response on each of the above, none of which are exactly insurmountable problems, but instead I just don’t make suggestions any more. And I continue to boycott the tea.
PS. I should clarify that the hot drinks bit of the facility is a Costa concession.