Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Boathouse apology attempt

A little more proof, if you needed it, that The Boathouse Restaurant's owner sent the original and now infamous emails. Make of this what you will. And kudos to local restaurants for capitalizing on the demise of the Boathouse.

From: lawton Haygood [mailto:lawton@boathousechattanooga.com]
Sent: Monday, June 29, 2009 8:15 AM
To: xxxxxx
Subject: RE: Restaurant Experience

Mr. xxxxx ,

I want to apologize for my recent comments to you.

Let me first explain why I was upset with you and possibly you might partially see what surrounded my very poor thinking and insensitive statement. The staff took a few minutes to seat you and I know that upset you which I did not understand. Since your infant was in a car seat, the manager wanted to be certain you were seated at a table with seats safe and secure for the car seat and the 3 year old. Additionally, I felt like you should have respected our right to establish our policy on bringing foods from another restaurant, whatever our reasons were and at least called and asked. It was my understanding that the manager tried to explain there were reasons for the policy beyond the health code. I got upset that you continued your arguments four days later and made disparaging remarks about my managers, who I believed had made their best effort to provide menu recommendations for your child. They handle that sort of request several times each day. It appeared you would not settle for anything less than the McDonalds food you brought for your child. In my state of irritation with you and in moment of personal weakness, I made a very insulting comment which reflected on your parenting. I did not mean for it to come out that way but it did. I had no right to make any assumptions about how you perform your duties as a parent and for that unfortunate response, I sincerely apologize.

You are correct on the Tennessee health code and I am sure it irritated you to find what she had told you, about the code, was incorrect regarding the McDonalds food. However, I do not believe the manager would tell you something if she did not believe it to be true. She, like me and most senior managers in the country, have had the understanding it was a code violation in all states. Most states, including Georgia, have restrictions on all food products brought from unlicensed purveyors. The reason being, if there is a health issue at a restaurant, they want to be able to trace back all the possible sources of the illness.

Most independent restaurants have a policy against bringing food from other restaurants , which go well beyond the health code issue. For example, we cannot tell one customer his is food is ok to bring and the next is not. Hopefully, you will appreciate the possible discrimination problems that could be involved. Certainly, within reason, we work with people who have special needs… serious dietary problems and with infant’s baby food, to name a few. But, we believe we must continue our policy on restricting foods from other restaurants.

It bothers me a great deal that I let this happen and how it insulted you, regardless of my opinion at the time. Obviously, I should have given a more generous response to begin with instead of my very insulting remark. I have no defense for what I said to you, but would like to say, this is not my normal reaction to a customer complaint. I treasure my customers and work hard as I can to please them. Hopefully, our products reflect that attitude. I hope somehow you and your family will find it in your heart to forgive me for my terribly insulting comment.


Lawton Haygood
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