This is going to sound, I don’t know, kind of enti­tled? But I’m going to bitch about a restau­rant expe­ri­ence. Sor­ry. I just need to cat­a­logue this so I won’t for­get some of the details of a real­ly bad­ly designed expe­ri­ence. I nev­er want to dupli­cate this in any of the work we do, ever.

Su want­ed to try Parson’s Chick­en and Fish tonight because it’s from the same team behind Long­man & Eagle down the street from our house, which we vis­it pret­ty fre­quent­ly. The ser­vice there is fan­tas­tic, the flow through the restau­rant is real­ly nice­ly con­sid­ered, and it’s a gor­geous expe­ri­ence all the way around. It’s com­fort­ing to be there.

Since we’ve been work­ing with Matthias Merges and all his folks at Yusho and Bil­ly Sun­day, I’ve become more aware of what good ser­vice and expe­ri­ence design real­ly is. I’ve got­ten to be a real fan of tru­ly amaz­ing ser­vice and restau­rant flow, which ensures that you will be com­fort­able, you will be immac­u­late­ly served, and so on. The way Matthias’ floor staff works, the servers are rained to be atten­tive, alert, grace­ful, and above all, invis­i­ble.

Our vis­it with Parson’s tonight was the exact oppo­site. The design of the restau­rant is longish booths set up in fam­i­ly style seat­ing, and it’s loud. There’s room for about six at a table. The table design is ter­ri­ble for fam­i­ly seat­ing because you’re intim­i­dat­ing­ly close to the peo­ple across from you, who you’ll prob­a­bly not know (we didn’t), and there’s quite a few spots where, if some­one needs to leave their set­ting, at least four oth­er peo­ple have to get up, which was caus­ing quite a few traf­fic jams around us.

You’re so close to total strangers that you have to acknowl­edge them, and the space is so con­fined that there is no oth­er place to direct your atten­tion but at your fel­low din­ers. It’s uncom­fort­able because you want to be gra­cious, you want to be cour­te­ous to your fel­low din­ers, and you’re so close to them that you will be a com­plete ass if you ignore them—meaning this restau­rant was designed to force you to be social. Nev­er mind that quite a few peo­ple hate being social.

On top of that, since the ser­vice staff has to stand at the head of the table, the din­ers on the end will quite often have a tor­so or an arm in their face as the staff tries to reach dish­es to folks sit­ting towards the back of the booth. It’s pret­ty awful.

About the ser­vice staff being invis­i­ble: they weren’t, by a long shot. And their man­ner was so, I don’t know, a car­toon rep­re­sen­ta­tion of what these kids thought good ser­vice was. While wait­ing for a table, Su and I plopped at the bar for a drink, and then read on our phones, because, who cares? It’s dead time. When the host grabbed us for our table, the bar­tender gave this weird flour­ish our way and exclaimed, “it’s been a real plea­sure, gen­tle­men!” which, obvi­ous­ly it wasn’t because we hadn’t said more than please and thank you to him. It was so fake. I’m always put off by some­one mak­ing an over­ly grand ges­ture at me, and I’m even more put off by some­one being open­ly emo­tion­al­ly dis­hon­est.

Any­way. No moral to the tale, like I said. Just cat­a­logu­ing.