Restaurant experiences

Photos and interviews by Dreylan Johnson and David Papannah

Restaurant Week will be celebrated later this month. This week we asked the man/woman in the street if they eat out at restaurants and if so, how often and what their experiences have been like?

jamal-farleyJamal Farley: `I eat out at restaurants casually, about once a week. I frequent the Publik and New Thriving, and the fast food places of course, like Church’s and KFC, which was recently opened. I think the restaurant experience in Guyana is affordable. I heard about Restaurant Week last year but unfortunately, it wasn’t until it was too late to participate. The initiative is good. It would encourage Guyanese to go and experience the restaurants and see what fine dining is.’

wtps-shaun-chinRaul Chin: `Yes, I eat out at restaurants, at least once a week. We visit Palm Court, we visit Kamboat, we visit Giftland Mall, a place called Playland—it’s an Italian restaurant in Enterprise and we also go to a host of other restaurants. I choose high-end places because the service is good. The service is always good at high-end places because they regard you because their prices are high and the service matches their prices. When you go to some places when it is cheaper, you get treated like you are nobody.  I like to spend my money where I get respected. I think the initiative for Restaurant Week is a good one, (and)  once the restaurant owners can relate to their staff that the initiative has a purpose of really upgrading the services that are offered throughout the country, it would be fabulous. And once they can get their staff to adhere. Because most times we don’t go one-on-one with the restaurant owners, it is the staff who we deal with when we go. And then some of them come to work with problems, they bring the problems there and you see it on their faces, they treat you anyhow and that is one of the things that I dread the most. I will refer especially to the past KFC that we had, the staff when you go into a KFC, it was like they had no regards for customers and I see the complete opposite now with the new KFC that we have. I think that if we are going to do this on the basis of Tourism Month, let’s get into it with all our mind, our soul and our strength and give it our best shot because Guyana’s future depends on it. ‘

natasha-georgeNatasha George: `I go out to restaurants but not often, just on special occasions like birthdays or if there is a family dinner. Sometimes I go to Buddy’s, nowhere else, really. The customer service there is good. I’m living up the East Bank so sometimes I also go to the Chinese restaurant there, Kamboat. I would definitely be looking to take part in restaurant week, seeing as there will be reduced prices. I think it’s a good initiative.‘

orlando-morrisOrlando Morris: `I’ve never been to a restaurant. I’ve never really had anybody to take me to a restaurant and also, I’m always busy, but it would be nice to experience restaurant week. I’ll try to go for a night or two to see what it’s like. ‘

melinda-lashleyMelinda Lashley: `I don’t eat out at restaurants often, just once in a blue moon. Probably once in every six months. But when I do eat out, I would usually go to Pegasus or Grand Coastal. The experience is kind of okay, but for me, I just like my home cooked food. Home cooked food is better than dining out. I’ve not heard of Restaurant Week before this but I might take a try. But I’ll go somewhere I never went before so that I could experience the food. I think restaurant food in Guyana is generally expensive so the discount makes it a little more reasonable.’

jeremy-vantullJeremy Vantull: `I don’t eat out much, not much at all. The last time I ate at a restaurant was probably a couple years ago. There aren’t many special occasions or anything like that for me to go out. I haven’t heard of restaurant week but I think it’s a good idea because it allows people who don’t really dine out to be encouraged to go and maybe try out new foods.”

adonna-hectorAdonna Hector: `I usually go out when there are special occasions or if I have to go for like a date or something. Personally, I like New Thriving, and probably Xie Xie’s. The customer service is good for me at New Thriving because I had an incident with them before and since then, whenever the manager sees me, he gives me good treatment. I don’t know about others, but for me, if you have good friends you should go out and interact but I would probably stay home and order. I haven’t heard about Restaurant Week before but I think people should take full advantage of the experience because we have all of these holidays coming up and family is going to be coming in so it would be better. If I’m invited to take part I definitely will. ‘

merica-georgeMerica George: `I dine occasionally. My experience dining here was horrible, the service sucked and the servers never know what’s in the meal. I mean, people have food allergies. For example, if you don’t eat onions and you ask about a dish, they can’t even tell you if it has onions inside. It seems there’s a lack of communication between the kitchen staff and the servers, who should be able to tell you what’s in a meal and what it is. Most times too, when you ask about stuff, you hear, ‘I’ve never eaten it.’ If you’re working in a restaurant, the onus is on the restaurant owners to do those things that I’m taking about. So for example, familiarize your staff with the menu meals. Give them samples so that they can have an understanding of what something tastes like so that they can encourage a customer to try something new, cause most times you end up ordering fried rice and chicken and so on because you’re accustomed to that. So most times there are a variety of items on a menu, but a lot of times nobody can’t tell you what it tastes like because they’ve never ever had it. So service needs to improve, especially in the area of management of staff, where management needs to have opportunities for staff to taste meals and also to give them an idea, a walk-through of what these meals are and what they’re made of. You can increase fine dining through advertisements. The Marriott, for instance, started doing things like a pool lime and they started to make the dining experience within more of a financial reach of a lot of persons. Places have things but you never know. The only place that I can say off-hand that advertises their meals is Paradiso. They would always put out something to say what they have. Every Friday they give you a wine choice, I mean, I might not know what some of the foods are, but it looks appetizing and if I have to think of somewhere to tell someone to go and eat, I would say Paradiso because they take the time to advertise and they do it on Facebook. You need to do things on Facebook and Instagram and so on where people can find your restaurant.’

ansar-chandAnsar Chand: `I do eat out, a lot actually. Once a week at least. It’s usually at the Marriott or Grand Coastal Hotel, Vintage or Maharaja Palace. The restaurant experience for me in Guyana varies, for example, Marriott’s food is good but they don’t have a wide variety. With the buffet that they order, for instance, there is not a lot to choose from but of course the service they offer is good. As it relates to restaurant week, I think it’s a good idea because it will promote Guyanese cuisine.’

nickita-towlerNickita Towler: `I enjoy dining out. I might not do it often, but when I do, I choose a different place for the experience. New Thriving, however, has been the place we always return to. I never had a bad experience with customer service there. I went to Pegasus more than once and the experience was not warming. We visited so many times and the service didn’t change. Regardless, I do think that more Guyanese should make plans to go out and experience Guyanese restaurants and though I can’t recall hearing about Restaurant Week, seeing that that prices are reasonable, I might give it a try.’

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