We went out for dinner with friends on Saturday night to a restaurant that we've eaten in for years. The food is consistently good and, though a bit noisy, the dining area is comfortable.
Things were going along fine at first. We placed our orders and our pre-main-course salads arrived quickly. Moments after our salads arrived, a woman we presumed was the manager or assistant manager asked us how everything was. We responded positively; she smiled and went on to the next table. A few moments later, our waitress asked how everything was. Again, we responded positively. Shortly thereafter another waitress along with a woman who actually was the manager (though you would not have guessed it based on the very casual clothing she was wearing) both stopped to ask us if everything was okay.
When our waitress cleared away the salad plates, she again asked how everything was. By this point, it was becoming amusing and Laurie started to count how many times we were asked. Our main courses arrived soon thereafter, along with another round of "How is everything" questioning by the variety of staff members, as well as someone who may have just been wandering by.
When the manager stopped by for the third time, just after we'd ordered coffee and dessert, Laurie pointed out to her that this was the twelfth time someone had asked us the same question. The woman seemed nonplussed when Laurie asked why we were being bombarded with concern about how our dining experience was going.
That was also about the time things started going south. We were given our bill, but it did not reflect the 20% off coupon our dining companions had presented via smartphone when they arrived. The coupon had disappeared into the ether and, as luck would have it, said smartphone's battery had run out in the interim. As a result, it would take a few minutes to have the discount applied to our bill by the manager.
No problem, as we were not in a rush. While we waited, Laurie asked if she get some more hot water for her tea. Coming right up! (Well, not really, because it never did arrive.)
We continued to chat, during which time the assistant manager again stopped by to ask how everything was. I was about to say that we were just waiting for the manager to adjust our bill, when I noticed that she was just a couple of tables away, no doubt asking other patrons how everything was. In fact, it was another fifteen minutes before we actually got the corrected bill.
One other thing I noticed was that, despite having a large number of people whose main concern seemed to be asking patrons how everything was, the restaurant was suffering a severe lack of staff to bus the dirty dishes. Three tables around us were left uncleared long after the diners had finished and departed.
We paid the bill and headed out, our path to the exit leading us right past the manager and assistant manager. I have to say we were all somewhat disappointed that neither of them asked us "How was everything?" as we went out the door.