The opinions stated in this article are solely those of the author and not of The Davis County Clipper.
By BRYAN GRAY
The battle is for King of Customer Service. In one corner is Disneyland. In the opposite corner, we have Utah restaurants blindly following superstitions from our state liquor officials.
During the recent recession, Disneyland and other Disney-theme parks didn’t hoard cash and retrench. Instead, the Disney Corporation spent $10 billion on expansion and, while raising ticket prices, focused on an employee effort to please customers.
Here’ the payoff: Last week, a co-worker returned from Disneyland and was raving to me about the pleasant experience. When one ride malfunctioned, she said, a Disneyland manager met visitors, profusely apologized and told them cold bottles of water would soon be arriving. When the water was delayed, the manger handed out complimentary food or drink vouchers.
“Our whole family had a nice meal for free,” she said. “All we expected was an apology for the problem on the ride, but Disneyland acted interested in us and went the extra mile. I look forward to our next visit.”
In contrast, we had an out-of-town guest, part of a group of six people, waiting for a table at a Utah Olive Garden restaurant. Told the wait would be 45 minutes, he walked into the bar area and ordered a small draft beer. After 45 minutes he returned.
“The wait is going to be another 20 minutes,” he told the bartender. “I guess I’ll have another beer.”
“Can’t do it,” mumbled the bartender. “In Utah you can only have one drink before ordering a meal. You can look at the menu and have one beer. That’s it.”
“But I can’t look at a menu because we haven’t been seated yet,” he said. “We are staying at the hotel right next to here and we do intend to eat dinner. If you give me a menu, I’ll tell you what I’m going to order, when I get a table.”
“One drink limit,” said the bartender. “Sorry.”
“OK,” said the frustrated guest. “Next time we’ll just drive another two hours into Nevada and eat dinner there. This makes no sense at all.”
Most of us would agree, but an impotent and scared legislature and governor won’t address the issue. The Olive Garden incident doesn’t revolve around “loosening liquor laws;” it is simply about having common sense.
The State of Utah is eager to receive money from alcoholic beverage sales, but is intent on placing more hurdles in front of its customers. Tourism officials admit that the perception of our liquor laws is a prime barrier in attracting visitors. Yet, Sen. John Valentine and his tag-along friends look for solutions in search of a problem and appoint executives who cannot tell a taxi cab from a cabernet.
Back to the competition for King of Customer Service. The winner: Disneyland and it’s pro-business/pro-customer organization. The loser: Utah taxpayers.