Reader: A restaurant should try hard even during a soft opening

Yesterday, Drink of the Week columnist Nancy Levine told of a disappointing stop at a restaurant that had opened eleven days earlier -- opened enough to be on OpenTable, where she'd made a reservation for dinner. But after she discovered that the bar alone wasn't ready for prime time -- the restaurant wasn't "open open," but "softly open," she learned -- she canceled that reservation and asked: If a restaurant is on OpenTable, doesn't it qualify as open open?

Here's offdisc's response:

"Softly open" should still mean "trained staff," which includes knowing what you are serving, from the kitchen or the bar. If the bartender doesn't care about the bar, you'd have to question, does the chef care about the kitchen? And if the GM doesn't care about either, then how long will this restaurant be open -- and why did it open in the first place?

During soft opens, I expect to get 'not perfect' food and possibly slow service. But a badly mixed drink so easy to make as a marg, nevermind a "house special," is inexcusable. I'd also expect that as much as I make an effort to take the 'problems' with a grain of salt, I'd also expect management to bend over backwards to try to make my experience as close to what they dreamed of when they started their restaurant idea.

Even the YardHouse, during their recent soft open, comped me my appetizer and gave me a free drink when I simply made a comment to the kitchen that they need to be more careful when cutting the tuna for the 'spicy tuna roll' (a couple bites of grisle was all). No major issue, but the GM came over personally and said "I want to you have the exact same experience as you've had at other YardHouses. This is on me, and enjoy another drink to wash it down." That is quality service!

How hard should a restaurant try during a soft opening? Post your thoughts below.

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