Retail Mire Can Be Escaped

Enjoyed a groovy meal at a new ‘Mexican’ restaurant in Covent Garden called Wahaca, only open for about two months.  Our waiter seemed enthusiastic yet in a rush.  His first question was “have you eaten here before?”.  The way he asked it, you could just tell he was expecting me not to have.  The uneasy response was a seat-shuffling ‘no’.

He then went on to recommend an option, but that seemed per functionary.  Not a good start.  Thankfully the food was pretty good.  But I was still aggrieved about the opening.  I also heard him deliver the same gambit to the table behind me, met with a similarly troubled retort.  So later I asked the waiter, was his chat down to training.

Amazingly, he said the owners had trained them to say exactly that.  I couldn’t believe it.  What an unfortunate example of why retail can so often miss its target.  What clown determines talk that can undermine their client?  I suggested an alternative to my waiter, along the lines of “when did you last enjoy Mexican?”.  Surely this approach would maintain the pleasant atmosphere desired.  He didn’t like this, saying that ‘Mexican’ alone didn’t truly describe their offering.

Are you kidding?!  Apparently, he preferred “Mexican street food”.  That’s okay of course, so why didn’t he say that, instead of his earlier “it’s like tapas… it comes in little portions and when it’s ready…”

I think he realised he was back pedalling at this stage, so I tried to help by asking what he’d like to say.  He warmed and mentioned “a bit like Wagamamas” (an average London chain mainly known for noodle dishes).  So why didn’t he say this?  Because even that didn’t have quite the right feel for him, as it mentioned competition.  Getting politely exasperated, I asked whether his bosses gave any leeway; “you’ll find your own way you feel comfortable with”, is their line.  Unbelievable.

Five minutes later, my fella addressed a newly seated party of 14 within earshot.  “Any of you guys eaten here before?”  A stony silence.  “Can I get any of you guys a drink first?”  Nothing again.  He’d lost them.  I wonder if he even cares…..

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