My wife and I just spent a week on New Zealand South Island. Beautiful country but the restaurant service had much to be desired. It wasn’t that it was casual service but rather careless or “whatever” service. For the most part servers were nothing more than order takers as they certainly weren’t concerned with customer service. I always felt like I was bothering my server, yet dinning at quality restaurants in NZ was not cheap!
At the end of our trip, a glimmer of hope appeared at The Captains Restaurant in Queenstown. WOW! A home run! There were only two people taking care of this small restaurant. They had passion, a desire to serve and knowledge to recommend food and wine. We were planning on dining at another establishment that evening, but on our walk over, Claire, stopped and engaged us in very friendly conversation. She reviewed the specials and enticed us, teased us, sold us on giving it a try. Claire was the manager and she wasn’t finished after she got us in the door. Within 15 minutes she dragged in 4 other groups of people and the small empty place began to feel alive.
We decided to sit at the bar. I figured we would have a couple of apps, a few drinks and then head down to the place we originally intended. At the bar, we were greeted by another very friendly and engaging person, bartender/waiter, Eric. He was eager to talk about wine, yet did not push, insist or tell us what to have. He was very good at providing options and style choices for both food and wine. We ended up staying their all night and had a great dinning experience.
Claire and Eric communicated well with each other and ran the entire front. What a team! They did it all - sell, bus, get drinks, refill, expedite… Everything! At one point I counted 28 people in the restaurant and believe they did 37 covers that evening. Two people with a passion to serve!
After 22hrs of travel and multiple airport connections we finally arrive in Christchurch New Zealand at 7:30 am with no luggage. My wife and I head to THE GEORGE hotel hoping, but not expecting, to be able to check in exceptionally early at 8:30am.
We received a very warm welcome and explained our situation. As expected, our room was not ready, but they proceeded to check us in and would see what they could do. We got a map and figured we would get an espresso and buy some clothes as our luggage is still 24 hours away! We take a seat in the lobby to study the map and develop a game plan to occupy us for a few hours. Within a few minutes the receptionist, Amanda (I think that was her name) stoped by to let us know that they were going to upgrade us at no charge to a suite that was available. What struck me wasn’t the upgrade, which was very generous, but the EMPATHY that was shown for our situation. The desire to make us comfortable even though our predicament wasn’t their fault was genuine and heartfelt.