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Vacation report-customer service in Carmel-by-the-Sea

Beautiful Carmel-by-the-Sea is one of my favorite places on the planet.  It sits right on the ocean’s edge in Monterey Bay, flowers grow here prodigiously and the houses are quaint.  It’s just a beautiful place to visit.  Because of the higher gasoline prices, my husband and I with my brother and his wife opted for a somewhat local vacation destination this year…instead of all day travel to somewhere, we chose just a couple of hours.  Isn’t it interesting how you vacation where other people live and other people vacation where you live?  Kind of weird but interesting.  I’d love to live in Carmel…but have to admit the fog would get annoying after awhile…I do love the sunshine of the Livermore Valley.  The climate is much more even here on the coast, but again, I actually like the high summer heat in my part of the world, even though I don’t tolerate it much anymore.

This is a business blog but I’m on vacation this week, so I thought I’d report on customer service. Last night we met an aunt at Tarpy’s Roadhouse restaurant, not far from the Monterey Airport.  Now Tarpy’s is an interesting place – the cuisine is what I would label as “American” with a splash of “Californian.”  Last night’s entree specials included buffalo loin strip and halibut.  I had salmon with asparagus spears and julienne mixed vegetables over rice pilaf – just about the best rice pilaf I’ve ever tasted.  The building is old with interesting bas relief carvings here and there…in one place it looks like a group of WWI soldiers.  It began as a home, built in the 1920’s.

The name “Tarpy’s” has a history – Tarpy’s Roadhouse derives its name from its location.  It is the site that a fellow named Matt Tarpy was hanged by a vigilante mob in March of 1873 for the murder of his neighbor.  The history of this restaurant is great reading. [see website here]

Tarpy’s is a busy popular eatery.  We were seated at our 6:30 p.m. reservation and, even though this was a Monday, it was busy.  Our waiter was not just friendly, he was charming and unobtrusive.  When dining out I have two pet peeves: one is receiving inadequate service and the other is receiving overly effusive service. Our waiter did not intrude himself into our evening, yet he seemed to anticipate our needs.  I once worked as a waitress in a nice dinner house and know very well what it takes to do that profession…it’s not servitude, it’s a job of giving service – very different.  I was highly impressed with the fact that our waiter did not have to write down anything – there were 5 of us, each ordering differently, yet he absorbed our orders with nary a pen in sight.  I never could do that – I had to write down a customer’s order and even notate where in the restaurant they were.  Oh well…memory games are not my gift.

I don’t know if anyone else has ever noticed, but when you spend an evening in the company of others at a nice restaurant, the service you receive [or don’t] can either enhance or diminish the experience?  The four of us hadn’t seen my aunt in about three years and we were all sharing photos and stories.  She had rearranged her schedule for the week to be able to spend some time with us and Tarpy’s had been a favorite destination for dinner of my uncle – the last time we’d been there had been while he was still with us.  So, this made last night’s evening doubly important.

Customer service can be taken for granted – both by those who deliver it and those who receive it, but it ought not to be.  Bad customer service can ruin a business’ reputation, while high quality customer service can bring even the most modest business a greater degree of credibility.

Today is whale watching.  In my next post, I’ll let you know how that went.  Hopefully I’ll be able to say, ‘Thar be whales here!’

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