Just a few numbers to liven up your Tuesday, shall we? The world of women’s lifestyle magazines is crammed full of contradictory messages, and that’s not a shocker to most folks. I even remember when I was a teenager noticing that “mature” magazines like Redbook would cram a brownie advertisement directly across from that “low fat casserole” recipe feature. It made me a little sad and angry then, but in the intervening years it’s all but tuned out as the normal way of things. Today I’m un-tuning it out by doing some page counts on just one issue of just one popular women’s healthy lifestyle magazine. Ready? Let’s go.
- Number of different prescription medications advertised in a 136-page women’s health magazine issue: 11.
- Number of pages occupied by those 11 out of the total 136: 30.
- Percentage of pages occupied by prescription medications in a health magazine: 22%
Non-prescription “cures” or interventions/detoxes:
- Number of pages occupied by OTC medications like detox kits or supplements (not including “standard” beauty products like makeup or sunscreen): 3
Sugary crap and artificially sweetened stuff:
- Number of pages occupied by food products with added sugar or artificial sweeteners: 8
- Number of those pages that were placed directly opposite content with a recipe including vegetables or a model in a bikini: 4
TOTAL number of pages in 136-page women’s health magazine devoted to prescription drugs, OTC cures, or sweet foods?
PERCENTAGE of pages in 136-page women’s health magazine devoted to prescription drugs, OTC cures, or sweet foods?
It’s in front of us every day. Once you start really noticing, it’s a little disturbing, no?
Welcome to the second episode of “a letter to restaurants”, a series in which I try to help and admonish and poke and scold eating establishments who are missing easy opportunities to deliver good experiences to their customers.
I call restaurants like you now and then. Many of your customers do. We often need to check the business hours (because who knows if whatever is listed on Yelp is accurate or current), verifying that you still serve a particular dish, or finding out if there’s a crowd and a wait time to get in. These are all valid reasons to dial the digits.
Once your phone number is actually located (hopefully it is prominently displayed on the website or directory page) and the ringy-dingy is heard on the other end, it is a most frustrating experience to hear one of these two scenarios as a result:
“I’m sorry. The mailbox belonging to 505-123-3456, is full. Please hang up.” <click>
“I’m sorry. The number you have dialed, 505-123-2345, has a mailbox that has not yet been set up. Good bye.”
You see, by cutting off this avenue of communication, YOU as the restaurant are effectively saying, “hey, we might exist. Come by and see for realz! Seriously!” It’s sending the same mixed message as if you had turned on the Open sign and unlocked the doors but barricaded them, or handed over a menu to diners while saying that most of the items are not available today. It makes zero sense AND everyone loses.
Restaurants, learn how to clear your mailboxes and set them up in the first place. Seriously. For realz.
You should know that restaurants come and restaurants go. But all restaurants, yourself included, have an ideal customer to attract or a genre they are trying to occupy. Diners do their no-fuss thing with Bunn-bearing coffee fillers while the truly fancy roll out the white-tablecloth hush-hush treatment.
However, you could be one of those restaurants that want to be FUN, trendy, visually appealing and hip. Sadly, these restaurants lack self-esteem. Yes, self-esteem. In a restaurant. You show it in practices that make you look like you are trying too hard, and one habit stands out the moment courses are served: fear of empty plate space.
This plain cheesecake is garnished with raspberry sauce AND chocolate ganache, neither flavor represented in the cake. Thanks, Chef ‘docgeek’. No disrespect.
This fear can be witnessed in places as diverse as wannabe midscale chains to wannabe midscale local joints with aspirations of hipness. It is on striking display on rims of plates from starter to dessert: an unwillingness to let the food sit unmoored on the dish. You see, plate rims are for holding the contents of the plate in. They do not need a dusting of dried parsley to add visual “whatever”. Here are common manifestations:
Oh gawd, the poor, poor crème brûlée….
One caveat, dear restaurant: not ALL showy saucing is superfluous. There are places where the artistic swirl of flame red was an essential flavor component of the dish, to be mixed in and enjoyed as a true sauce. You awesome restaurants follow the sauce/garnish rule, which says that they should: 1) complement or enhance the dish’s flavors and 2) be edible.
Everyone else: just stop it, please.
Restaurants, you do often have other (not so minor) issues like not having a phone number on the website or not being open when you say you are or forgetting food orders between your table and the kitchen. Fix those issues first, and then attend to the trying-too-hard stuff. You’ll be a better place to dine.