First Impressions

When a restaurant cancels a reservation at the last moment it makes a terrible first impression. #Princeton #Despana

It's been a while since I had a chance to chat with my sister-in-law and catch up. We live in the same town but with school and work schedules we almost never get a chance to talk. Things get busy on the weekends with kids activities and I thought that a weeknight dinner wouldn't stress both our calendars.

Someone recommended I try Despaña, a Spanish restaurant in Princeton. I made dinner reservations with Despaña Princeton for January 20th at 5:30PM days in advance. However, around 12:36PM, on the date of the reservation, I received one phone call and an SMS text message from the manager at Despaña Princeton apologizing that they had to cancel my dinner reservation.

Samuel Quezada, the manager at Despaña, claimed that the OpenTable scheduling system made an error and that the restaurant had actually been reserved for a private event. The manager also claimed that he tried to contact me repeatedly. I checked my email, voicemail and SMS records from the prior two weeks but the only communication I had received from Despaña was the one phone call and the text around from that day.

I consider it poor form when a restaurant cancels a reservation at the last moment on the same day.

After speaking with the manager, who promised to do "right" by me, I received an email at 12:41PM from the OpenTable reservation system that my reservation had been cancelled.


Assuming that the manager wasn't lying why did it take weeks to realize there was an issue? What wasn't I notified via the OpenTable reservation system? If the restaurant knew they had a private event and the restaurant was fully booked why didn't the manager prevent any OpenTable reservations for that day? Why didn't the manager cancel my reservation via the OpenTable system sooner and update me with a reason?

Here's a screen shot of the SMS of the first message that was sent to me at 12:36PM on January 20th, 2016.

Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 3.05.30 PM

Part of me in angry for not doing my research before booking this restaurant. The reviews on Yelp would have been a warning to avoid at Despaña. It was too late to find a new restaurant and sister-in-law is busy the next few weeks so we'll have to postpone.

I submitted a complaint to OpenTable and received a courteous response.


I Hope Not

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Maybe, Thad. Maybe. But I certainly hope not.

There are a few other things that robots don't do.

  • Hospitality
  • Accents

I think part of an enjoyable dining experience is inviting and friendly experience for the staff. From the person who greets guests at the door and seats them to the wait-person taking my order. I enjoy talking to the wait staff. We may talk about the menu, why I'm there and sometimes I get insight into their lives. At one restaurant the wait person was so concerned that I was low on insulin -- she has a friend who had Type 1 diabetes -- that she took the extra effort to help me pick safe options from the menu. A robot will never feel welcoming to me.

Ever watch someone try to use Siri whose native language isn't English? I've watched my father-in-law get so frustrated that he handed the iPhone back to me and told me it was useless. I can't imagine how left out people who speak English with an accent are going to feel when the robot doesn't understand them or gets the food order wrong. Who will they complain to?

Published via MarsEdit