Yesterday, on a trip to run some errands, the skies blackened and were shot through with lightning bolts. It was time to seek shelter, and because we were pushing the kids' dinner time, it was time to seek sustenance, too.
Being in a suburban landscape of strip malls, we found ourselves in a booth at an Uno Chicago Grill, a place we rarely visit, watching the trees sway wildly in the wind and watching with trepidation as the restaurant's lights occasionally flickered in the storm.
The food at Uno is OK. It's not the best, nor the worst I've ever eaten. But whoever the manager on duty was last night dished up some top-notch customer service.
When one of our pizzas arrived without the spinach that was ordered, we pointed it out to our server, who happened to be tableside at that moment. He apologized and ran to the kitchen to get another pizza made.
In the meantime, the manager came over to apologize and tell us that he'd he happy to box up the errant pizza, if we wanted, and to, well, apologize again. He was sincere, clearly ready to meet our demands – though we made none – and honest.
(And he was savvy. He couldn't miss the kids at the table and he took the opportunity to make sure we knew that Tuesday was kids eat free night.)
We didn't need dessert comped or a coupon for a free cocktail. We just wanted a pizza with spinach it and it arrived about as quickly as one can.
Mistakes happen and I think in most cases, but certainly not all, customers want just what this manager provided: an acknowledgement of a mistake, a rectification of the mistake, an apology and the appearance that he genuinely cared about our experience in his restaurant.
Maybe we'll go out to eat again tonight. I hear it's kids eat free night.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.