Monday, August 3, 2009

Maggiano’s Little Italy disappointment times 2

Last week I boasted that Maggiano’s Little Italy “Today & Tomorrow” August promotion would be a bid success and complement to the Grocerant sector. I like Maggiano’s Little Italy, the format, the food, footprint. I shared the press release about the promo with an industry colleague who lives near the Bellevue location and he too was excited. So much so he went Saturday night August 1st. He called me from the restaurant after his meal telling me I owed him a dinner because this location did not have the “Today & Tomorrow” promotion (He was disappointed as well). He explained his waiter came over discussed all the “specials” and no “Today or Tomorrow”, then he asked about it specifically and was told no he had just recited the specials. I was so disappointed I called the Unit minutes later and was informed yes you could get ½ order special? They were seemingly unaware of the “Today & Tomorrow” promo heralded by Maggiano’s Little Italy marketing department! Which sounds so much better than ½ order special. I was disappointed and hesitant to believe friends and the person on the phone.
Tonight I drove the 34 mile round trip to Maggiano’s Little Italy and can say that the food was good. The waiter knew of the promo and took the order without question or hesitation. Our meal was good, service wonderful and the restaurant was clean and busy. BIG problem the bag of “leftovers” was had the wrong food in it! We did not look in the bag; it’s kinda like going through a fast food drive-in and grabbing the bag via the window. When we got home our food was not what we had ordered. No explanation was given when we were handed the food, we were told here is YOUR FOOD! What is worst is there were no storage instructions, no reheating instructions nor thank you in the bag opportunity not reached. The theme packaging was reminiscent of something you would find during the 1960 (plastic lid on tinfoil pan) which was on message but we are now in 2009. Opportunities identified then poorly executed don’t do well. I insist this is a good promo ideation, obviously a better idea than operationally executed which is a surprise for a Brinker concept. Customers want more from restaurants not less. Looking forward is want customers want. This promo still could be a big thing for and within the Grocerant sector. There will be a restaurant chain that will a little tweaking that can turn it around and put this promo on right in front of the consumer. The Grocerant sector is here the consumer is and or continues to move.


  1. I went to your blog and read the Maggiano's disappointment x2 post. It was sad and funny at the same time on several points. One, that the staff was unfamiliar with the promotion. Two, what sounds to be ill conceived or mismanaged support materials. Three.and the most important.FOOD SAFETY.

    The food safety laws in Illinois and most of the country clearly state that any leftovers are to be put in a container by the customer/patron not the restaurant staff just for the reason you stated. Getting the proper food back and not becoming ill from eating food that was eaten by someone else or touched by restaurant personnel who might have become contaminated.

    Maybe that is another post for your blog.


    Jeff Klingberg

    Mountain Stream Group, Inc.
    Engineering Communications That ConnectT

  2. The rest of the country should adopt Illinois' law. I HATE it when the server wants to package my to-go food for a variety of reasons: 1.) There's something very private about what gets left on my plate. I'd rather pick through my leavings than have some 20-something psychoanalyze me in front of the dishstand while she wonders why I don't want the left-over fatty steak, but I threatened her bodily harm if she didn't scrape all the béarnaise sauce into my box. 2.) The server's fawning desire to "serve" me really doesn't have to extend to my take home of tomorrow's meal. I'll settle for fast, efficient, get-my-order-right service with a smile and would be a lot happier if she didn't make me feel like an elitist snob who can't pack his own lunch. 3.) I don't know where her fingers have been. Oh, wait, I DO know where her fingers have been - or at least I imagine I do! And one place they probably haven't been lately is in the intimate company of soap and hot water. Servers are rarely trained like cooks are in even the basics of food safety and they even more rarely pay attention to what training they do get. So, just bring me my to-go box and don't look like such a hurt puppy when I decline your offer to separate my rib bones from my veggies.
    As far as the promotion mishandling, I'd be less inclined to blame Brinker than I would be to blame the unit management for not communicating to the standard. But that's exactly why restaurants need consultants like me - to teach them how to improve their communication, their morale and their profits!

    Ron Cushing
    Hospitality Consultant