I really hate it when fast-food restaurants are out of major items. Like Taco Bell not having tacos, Dairy Queen being out of ice cream, and Burger King not having burgers. I get that working in fast-food places is not all pissing rainbows and shitting kittens, and that running out of things from time to time is just a reality, but I always wonder if it wouldn't be a better option to close up shop temporarily until major items are back on the menu, rather than just winging it.
Yesterday a Westword writer who knows his burgers rolled up to the BK on Sixth and Broadway for a double cheeseburger fix, and was told by an employee that burgers were off the menu: Allegedly the broiler was down, so no hot, juicy, cheeseburger for him. Instead, he got an order of chicken tenders, then rolled on to a nearby Wendy's to fill the cold, empty void left by BK's rejection.
When I called that Burger King a few hours later, an employee told me that there had been no broiler incident, and that burgers had been available all day. That's pretty shysty, BK people.
Is this incident going to have a lasting impact on the burger universe as we know it? Probably not, although our BK burger lover won't be going back any time soon. Still, it presents some food for thought. What's the appropriate way to handle major menu item outages? I don't mean sauce packets or croutons -- although I get intemperate when Taco Bell runs out of hot sauce -- but a shortage of concept-defining menu items.
From a customer's point of view, it's irksome bordering on maddening to make an order, pay and get to the window/counter -- only to be told that the place is out of what you ordered. Some spots will take the initiative and post a note letting customers know about any shortage, thus giving them an early heads-up to either get over it or go somewhere else. This is a solid gesture.
From my experience, unfortunately, fast-food joints are subject to the mandates of their corporate office overlords, who don't seem to give a chicken-tender-fueled crap about their employees being inconvenienced or verbally abused by irate customers who can't get a promised menu item. They are the people customers should communicate with when they are burgerless and hungry for change.
And shuttering for a while seems like a much better idea than pissing off customers while employees scramble to do the best they can with the food they do have. It's not like there isn't plenty of deep-cleaning for them to do while the equipment is being serviced or the larder restocked, so the company can't whine about productivity and overhead.
Should places like Burger King be allowed to pause sales if they are out of burgers? Should employees fib to save face? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
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