Letter: Please be respectful in your criticism of restaurant employees

I have been in the food service industry for my entire adult life. I started out working in college at the North Dakota State University Dining Center and from there worked at two popular local restaurants, both of which are still in business and my career has spanned 39 years.

Recently, while scanning the obituaries, I saw once again, as I often do, the picture of one of my guests who had passed away. As I read the obituary, I noticed when listing her interests and hobbies, it included the name of the restaurant that I currently work at as one of her favorite things to do. I posted that notice to my staff to remind them that what they do does matter. It’s not just about receiving a great tip or paycheck. Our job is to provide happiness as well as a good meal.

Unfortunately, as is the case when working in a job where human beings are the main impetus in providing that experience, we sometimes fail. In this age of social media, the “constructive criticism” can often be quite harsh. Words like “worst, horrible, rude, never going back, tell all my friends” are thrown at you with great abandon.

In defense of those critics, I understand your frustration. When I grew up, we went out to dinner maybe twice a year. It was a special occasion, and I still like to go out for dinner! If your dining experience has been affected by something we could have done better, I feel responsible. We are fortunate to have so many great restaurants in Fargo. The number of places to choose from is at an all-time high and competition for guests and staff is at an all-high as well. We need to constantly strive to do our best every single day.

I only ask that you remember when you do have an experience that is less than satisfactory and want the whole world to know just who you are affecting. It’s the high school kid or the guy in recovery that is getting a second chance in life. It’s the college student working his way through school to pay for his education. It’s the single mothers working for tips to pay for food and health care for their children whose deadbeat fathers’ won’t help support. It’s the adults with special needs that work entry-level positions as bussers and dishwashers. Finally, it’s the businesses that contribute to many causes in your community. Just look around the next time you attend a fundraiser and see how many restaurants are represented.

I get it. We are in business to make money. That’s the American dream. Just be nice next time you have a complaint. We’ll listen!