Friday, October 29, 2010

Mr. Grumpy and Mr. Jolly - A Tale of Two Managers

This is a tale of two managers of two different Old Country Buffets. Each OCB is located about twenty miles from the other. The manager I see most at one of these OCB's I have been calling - to myself - Mr. Grumpy. The other at this other OCB I have been calling - again to myself - Mr. Jolly. These two managers are as different as night and day and so are the two restaurants. Guess which one is the better of the two Old Country Buffets.

Each time that I go into the OCB that Mr. Grumpy works at, I see Mr. Grumpy frowning. It is clear that he does not like his job and his attitude and his face show it. This is also reflected in his employees who do not seem to like (or understand) their jobs. Mr. Grumpy stays by the cashier most of the time. He does not smile to customers and the only time that I have observed a smile was with one of the employees - and that is rare. And that time that I saw him smiling it was during a conversation with an employee in which they were both complaining about their jobs (in front of the customers). He has, on more than one occasion, said the absolutely wrong things to customers when they have sought him out for help. I witnessed and overheard a customer inform him on a Friday night when steak is supposed to be served that steak had not been brought out in over thirty minutes. The customer made the comment that steak cooks on a grill in less than ten minutes - and with no apology from Mr. Grumpy to the customer about no steak (and most other meats not being available that should have been out) that no, steak takes much longer to cook and when it comes out, it comes out. Often the trays here are empty or are taken away and replaced with a totally unlike item - rolls for vegetables, a second tray of potatoes for meat. I have seen Mr. Grumpy say to customers "What do you want that there is no turkey, roast beef, or ham - we have brought this out instead - to the cry of a customer that "this" is not what they came for or paid for - they came for the meats that are featured that night. Mr. Grumpy just shrugged - again, no apology. Well, that is not a way to treat any customer - if you want that customer to return. And perhaps if the customer's went away, Mr. Grumpy would get his desire to not have to work there any longer.

Now, there is Mr. Jolly. Again, at an Old Country Buffet just twenty miles from the other. Mr. Jolly is a large man who when seen always has a smile on his face. He is generally in the dining room walking around the tables and talking with the patrons. He seems to always be laughing with them and happy to see them. He greets return customers as if they are old friends and greets new customers as well. He looks like he really enjoys his job. Perhaps he hates it just as much as Mr. Grumpy but he never shows it - but I think he really likes what he is doing. Mr. Jolly also keeps an eye on his employees and the buffet tables. Whenever something is running low it is replaced - and if something runs out - and that understandably can happen - it is replaced with a similar item. Another type of meat for a meat and another type of vegetable for a vegetable. I have seen whole roast beefs, hams, and turkeys brought out to carve just before closing. Something that would just not happen at that other OCB.

Mr. Jolly's employees seem happy to work for him as well. They are prompt to clear dirty dishes off of diner's tables, they make sure there is ice at the beverage station, and that plates, glasses, and cups are always available. Mr. Jolly's floors are always clean - and the daily traffic at both OCB's are equal. In fact, Mr. Jolly's OCB is located at a large shopping mall and there is a stream of customers who come while and after shopping during the day. When asked if more ice tea will be made when the dispenser was empty, one of Mr. Jolly's employees said, of course, and immediately started making it. Now, that you are paying for beverages at OCB, Mr. Jolly makes sure that you are getting what you are now paying for. (At Mr. Grumpy's OCB once the ice tea dispenser is empty it stays empty.)

I have written before that the management can make or break a buffet. A Mr. Jolly will have happy customers and his restaurant will be a credit to the chain. A Mr. Grumpy will have customers who have negative things to say about his restaurant and do the company a world of damage - and these customers have been commenting such on this site about this particular OCB for years - and interestingly, it has not always been the same Mr. Grumpy managing this location. But for some reason this OCB seems to get an excess of managers who come and go who are also Mr. Grumpys. Now. does OCB corporate - which is Buffets Inc. care? They seem not to because if you use the comment section on their website or send them a letter it just gets passed along to Mr. Grumpy at the restaurant who does not care, does not change, and it is no surprise as this is Mr. Grumpy to form. Certainly there is never a sign on the door that says dinner is half price tonight because we are out of just about everything - no people are let in, to pay the full price, and then scoffed at when they expect to get what they paid for. Do I expect to pay less because they are not putting food out - of course not - but I do expect to get everything that I am paying for. Even at $10.99 with $1.99 for beverages (yes, that beverage price has now been increased - an easy way to gradually push the price back up without much notice), money these days is hard earned and this, for some of us, is a significant outlay.

I now drive the twenty extra miles to eat at Mr. Jolly's OCB. I am sure that if Mr. Grumpy is reading this he is saying, "Good riddance!" - as his employees and perhaps he has posted as comment on this site in the past. With the price of gas going up, this is not something that I should have to do when there is an OCB less than three miles from me. But if I want OCB - and I do like OCB (depending on the location), if I want a buffet meal without aggravation and Mr. Grumpy, I have to go the distance. There are and will be occasions when I can't do that and I go to visit Mr. Grumpy's restaurant and hope.

Now, I must add that we went on a night that Mr. Jolly was not working, and while the restaurant was still a great deal better - it was noticeably not the same as when Mr. Jolly is around. Service was not entirely the same and there were a few items that did not get replaced when emptied. So this just illustrates even more the importance of a manager in a buffet!

I hope that at your OCB the manager is a Mr. Jolly too!

1 comment:

brian said...

What a experience at the OCB's. If I experienced the poor OCB I wouldn't even go at all. I think I'd rather go to a Wendy's or Olive Garden where you get decent and consistent food.

One buffet that I definitely prefer over OCB is Golden Corral. In my travels whenever I get a chance and see a Golden Corral, I go because they seem to have much more food variety available and empty trays get refilled on a timely basis.

It seems to be getting harder to find good buffets outside of casinos. Too bad that the Foxwoods buffet or Showboat buffet aren't chain buffets !