Monday, January 11, 2016

Rant: Restaurants, Hygiene & First Impressions

When compiling my first impressions of a new restaurant, I'm forgiving of many service and food issues as I understand it can take a little time for a new place to work its initial kinks out. I'll usually return at a later date to see how the restaurant has evolved, to note what changes might have been instituted. However, there are some serious issues that may arise on my first visit to a restaurant which might cause me never to return. It arises infrequently but occurred on one of my latest forays to a new local restaurant.

While I was out running some errands, I was considering where to grab lunch. I noted a Facebook post that a new wood-fired pizzeria was opening that day and I was very close to its location. I decided to give it a try, sitting at the counter in front of the open kitchen and wood-fired oven. I had some issues with the service and food, but nothing I couldn't attribute to the fact that it was only their first day open. They were issues I could overlook for the moment and I normally would have returned after some time to dine there again.

However, I won't dine there again. I saw something which disturbed me, which should not have occurred. Something I just cannot ignore.

The pizza peel, the tool which they use to remove the finished pizza from the oven, was standing up against a wall. At one point, while I was eating my pizza, the peel fell over onto the floor. The chef/owner picked up the peel and put it back against the wall. He then used it to remove multiple pizzas from the oven. This is where the problem arose.

The chef/owner did not clean or even just wipe off the peel after it had fallen to the floor. He did not replace it with another peel. Absolutely wrong. There is no reason why he couldn't have taken a minute to clean the peel. And this was in my full view as I was sitting at the counter. He didn't even try to hide the fact he failed to clean the peel.

If some inexperienced kitchen employee had done this, I might have been a bit forgiving but this was the chef/owner, the person who knows better. I find it inexcusable for the chef/owner to have done this in front of me. And it raises the question in my mind of what hygiene problems existed that I didn't witness or couldn't see. This was a negative first impression and I won't give them the chance at a second impression.

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