07/17/2012 03:31 pm ET | Updated Sep 15, 2012

The Light is On, But Nobody is Home

Mike Sanson is the chief editor of Restaurant Hospitality magazine, a national trade pub that covers the full-service restaurant industry. In every issue he tweaks his readers into passionate responses, often by retelling his own dining experiences. The issues he confronts them with are of vital interest to restaurant owners, but they are also the kind of topics that will raise the hackles of folks who dine out often. So, as a customer of these restaurants Sanson writes about, what are your thoughts? What really bugs you when you eat out?

As politically incorrect as this may be, most guys would rather have a beautiful woman pour them a beer than one who is not. That's just the way it is and I suspect women feel the same way about attractive male servers. It only makes sense for restaurants to hire beautiful people who will interact with their customers. 2012-07-17-prettybartender.jpg

I point this out because a few weeks back I met a friend at a restaurant where we sat at the bar and were blown away by an exceptionally beautiful woman bartender. It was early and the bar wasn't crowded. I arrived before my friend and sat at the end of the bar where there's a station for making margaritas. My seat was directly in front of that station, where the lovely bartender was making drinks. If I had eaten garlic for lunch that day, she could have smelled it on my breath because we were that close. She made three drinks and never acknowledged my presence. Too cool for school? Read on.
She delivered the drinks and then fiddled around five more minutes before approaching me and asking, "Have you been waited on?" At the time, she was the only bartender working. "By whom?" I responded. She looked at me blankly. "I'll have a beer," I replied to break the uncomfortable silence. She poured the beer and asked, "Do you want a menu?" "No," I
replied, "I'm just having drinks." She grabbed a menu and placed it in front of me.
My friend finally arrived, and our beautiful bartender repeatedly proved that she was not hired for her knowledge or skill level, but merely for her looks. Let me tell you, I'd rather have a not-so-attractive, skillful woman pour me a beer any day over one who is beautiful and clueless. I wondered: Is this woman the girlfriend of an owner or manager, or simply someone the owner or manager wants to sleep with? In either case, she and others of her ilk will likely draw in customers because of their looks, but for how long?
So, as I've suggested, I'm completely in favor of hiring beautiful people. But if they're not on the ball, restaurants are going to end up losing more money than they thought they'd make from the drawing power of beauty. This woman was so inept, that hundreds of dollars in sales were lost because she could not keep up with customer demand.
And, just so you know restaurant operators, when customers stumble upon a beautiful, but clueless server, they look around the room for the person who did the hiring. We know what you were thinking, you dog!