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Sunday, August 8, 2010

Word Has it!

By Silvia Uribe

August 8th, 2010

In Santa Barbara, we all know that a business' best advertisement tool is word of mouth. But, positive word of mouth is not cheap, and it doesn't come easily either. A business has to maintain a high standard in the quality of whatever it is they offer. Be it a service or a product, word of mouth can take any business to complete success, or it can unmercifully destroy it.How is it then that businesses gamble with their reputations is beyond me, but unfortunately they do; particularly restaurants, of which we have abundance, with a great variety of cuisines and flavors. Competition is the name of the game.

Particularly today, when online social networks allow us to post our opinions about a business, and have the potential for hundreds, at times thousands of people to see it, word of mouth should be taken more seriously now than ever. I guess some popular eateries feel that they'll be at the top forever and, at some point, they feel they can set whatever rules they want. They get used to hearing the register machine's sweet "ka-ching" sound, and they forget about why they're there, and most importantly, about the customers who put them where they are.

I'm one who believes that every customer should be treated equally well, and that the restaurants' good service, and their facilities should be available to everyone who pays their prices, no questions asked. Service standards should not be based on the best interest of the employees, but on the customers'. Otherwise everyone loses, from the employees, to the customers, and the restaurant itself.

With this in mind, and based on information meticulously gathered last month at various social encounters, I created a list of the main 20 reasons why people would stop going to a restaurant, or even worse, would give it a bad rap.

1. Bad food (of course)

2. Not letting people sit where they want unless they have dinner (and the waitress explaining that "those who have dinner - not just appetizers - leave more tips"

3. Lousy service

4. Not bringing water when customers are seated

5. Servers and managers chatting with customers, as opposed to serving

6. Charging for to-go containers

7. Burning the food

8. Cutting too many corners

9. Split plate charges

10. Not reminding large groups (6+) that the service charge is already included in the total

11. Dirty restrooms

12. Turning people away before their closing time

13. Bringing cold food from the kitchen

14. Chipped porcelain and/or dirty silverware and table clothes

15. Strange "findings" in the food

16. Overpricing

17. Waitperson's poor personal appearance and manners

18. Overall lack of cleanliness

19. Waitperson's lack of proper training

20. Slow service

(Thank you to those who contributed their opinions.)

These reasons would somewhat vary if we were in Mexico, where flavor takes precedence over what are considered "less important things". The list would be a lot shorter.

Here is the perfect example, and my recommendation for a Mexican Taqueria; Lilly's Taqueria . You guessed it - they only sell …tacos. Lilly’s is located right where the freeway meets Chapala Street in Santa Barbara.

The place is not particularly pretty, although it is very clean. There are no waitresses, but you get your food as soon as you finish ordering it. And, they serve you on paper plates, but the ingredients and the flavors are high quality and very traditional. At a price of $1.49 per taco, you cannot believe the quality of their meat.

Now, if you are a taste bud adventurer, Lilly’s Taqueria is the best place to try some Mexican cuisine meat delicacies, and order some “lengua (tongue), cachete (cheek), or tacos de ojo (eye ball)”. Daring huh? Mmmm…mmmm

Silvia Uribe is a freelance writer with a Latino perspective

Cross-published at

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