Is this hospitality practice really good for tourism?

ONE Friday I took my son to Dix Neuf for a cold drink as it was particularly hot. Town was buzzing, as a cruise liner was anchored outside the harbour and there were dozens of American tourists walking around Town. I placed my order at the bar with the manager, which she accepted and asked which table we were sitting at outside. After a few minutes she came to our table and said: ‘Sorry, we are on a service break and are not taking orders.’

Her whole demeanour was one that we were really not welcome and she clearly wanted us to leave. This was all the more galling as she had already accepted our business only minutes before in a restaurant that was not particularly busy.

I have never heard of the term ‘service break’ even after many years working in hospitality some years ago, or having frequented Dix Neuf since the early 1990s. Even a Google search turned up nothing other than an obscure tennis reference.

Turning away trade after just coming out of a three-year struggle due to Covid seems borderline financial suicide. Call me a cynic, but it felt like they were more interested in catering to American tourists who might have spent more in the moment, rather than a valued customer who has spent a small fortune there since 1992. I sincerely hope not.

I would like to publicly ask the Liberation Group:

l Do they set service breaks across all their outlets and if so, how many times a day?

l Might it pay to put these on the door, so we do not have the embarrassment of sitting down and ordering first before being asked to leave in front of other ‘served’ customers?

l Would their manager have turned away a group of American tourists with the same line – which would not put Guernsey in a good light, both with future tourists and cruise companies?

l Has anyone else in Dix Neuf, or other Liberation Group outlets, either that afternoon, or at any other time, been faced with the same discriminating line?

Tony Booth

Editor’s footnote: Jeremy Spencer, operations manager for Liberation Pubs and Bars, responded: It’s well documented that many industries, including ours, are experiencing staff shortages. This, coupled with an increase in Covid infections means that sometimes our teams need to make operational decisions on the spot. We do, in some instances, pause taking food orders to give the kitchen a chance to catch up – a sign was put up on the door informing customers of this. However, drinks should still be available during these periods so we’re incredibly sorry and apologise to this customer that no drinks were served.

We take the welfare of our staff incredibly seriously, ensuring they take regular breaks but, despite the recruitment challenges and busy time of year I’d like to assure all visitors that our teams are working as hard as they can to give our guests a great experience. If this customer would like to get in touch with us directly then we’d love the opportunity to put things right. Thank you.

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