10 Simple Restaurant Touches
When you eat out, do you ever notice nice details that you wish EVERY restaurant would remember? I'm not talking about offering a black truffle menu or having easy parking (both would be incredible!), but more of the simple, low-cost, easily-implemented things. Most require little effort, but can make a big difference. So if you're in the restaurant business or looking for these touches in your next restaurant selection, here are a few of my thoughtful favorites.
Own The Branding
Inevitably "table 9" won't give up their seats and there will be a wait. This isn't surprising to anyone, so restaurants who plan for such an event and give people a cool area in which to hang out while waiting are big hits with me! In fact, whenever I go to Barcelona in Inman Park, I HOPE we have to hang out!
Always Have An Al Fresco Option
Don't over-think outdoor dining - just do it! There will always be those of us who crave a little fresh air. All of us outdoorsy types will put up with uncomfortable seats, close neighbors, and spotty service just to be out! I'm a huge fan of the Star Provisions deck and that space is feet away from the parking lot! On the opposite end of the privacy spectrum is the wonderful deck at Sotto Sotto.
Serve Awesome Carbs
The little touches in areas such as plating and service are noticed. So decorate the dishes, replace white napkins with dark when I'm sporting black pants, and say "thanks for coming in." We notice! No one does details better than Tomo in Buckhead.
Sure, low-cal is great, but what's really nice is when you don't take yourself too seriously. The clever menu, restroom signs, and matchbooks are great. Keep it up! I'm still laughing at the men's/ladies signs at The Spence.
If for every new page of a wine list, a new whiskey listing, or an after-dinner drink, a restaurant simultaneously added tea options, I'd be one happy camper. Alas, only a few spots get this right. My two favorites are Empire State South and Cardamon Hill (chai tea pictured below). YUM! I always want more tea!
I love it when a place understands the appeal for small tasting plates. Kevin Rathbun seems the most in touch with this idea and nowhere is it more obvious than at Krog Bar, a great spot if you're in town and want to hang out after dinner. Though they still need a tea collection (ahem! see above), they have great little bites at terrific prices (!) to take the edge off the dessert craving.
Most places leave a lackluster impression when you're paying the bill. All the more reason I appreciate the gesture Table & Main makes by delivering the bill in a book and encouraging people to leave comments. Clever AND brave - especially for people like me who read through the comments! Finishing well is always impressive!
What are your favorite restaurant touches?