The time has come for family restaurant chains to make a drastic change to their business model. It’s time to sit down with your marketing teams, managers, and restaurant owners and have a discussion about eliminating one of the most annoying things about casual family dining.
I experienced it again about a week ago when my wife and I loaded up the kiddos for a spontaneous little dinner out. It was late in the week and neither one of us had the energy to crack open the oven to make a meal, and we didn’t even want to think about the pile of dishes that would follow! Yuck.
So, we loaded up the family SUV and zipped on down to one of our favorite little steak places. We arrived early and the restaurant was fairly empty. We were greeted by a lovely young lady that escorted us to a delightful corner booth. The waiter came over and dispensed with the typical welcoming script of drink specials, appetizer choices, and the five dollar shrimp skewer up-sale. After a quick perusal of the menu and about fifteen minutes later, we all had our meals and everyone was forks deep in cow.
Soon after, the restaurant started filling up... and that’s when the annoyances began. That’s when the birthday celebrations started and the horribly written - corporate mandated birthday song was unleashed.
We counted four of them during our time at the restaurant that evening. Four times a disgruntled looking wait staff lumbered over to an unsuspecting patron to WOW the steakhouse with their witty little birthday parody. Piecing together a choreographed routine of hand slaps and boot stomps - forcefully trying to rhyme “steak” with “great” in their stupid song. Topping off the celebration tune with an all-at-once-now “yeeeeeeehaaaawwwwwww” that could be heard across the street at Kohl's.
This is my plea to dining establishments.
This must end immediately.
Stop the cheesy birthday song and dance routine - it’s unnecessary and super annoying to your customers. You’re interrupting people’s dinners for something everybody hates! It’s embarrassing to the birthday victim and embarrassing to your poor employees that just want to make it to their next break - so they can rush out to their car and get their vape on.
I took a quick glance around the restaurant and noticed multiple people rolling their eyes and covering their ears. By the fourth time, I too was frozen with my arms crossed wondering why we didn’t shell out a couple more bucks to have dinner at a higher end joint that didn’t cater to this ridiculous musical theater.
I know this is harsh and I understand that abandoning this tradition is a mighty bold suggestion that will probably fall upon deaf ears. I know ol’ Frank who works in marketing at Applebee’s - with his tucked in t-shirt and white New Balance sneakers, will argue that people LOVE to be embarrassed, and that birthday songs somehow translate into a slice of cake up-sale. But come on - there has to be a better way to show your appreciation. I don’t see anything wrong with walking over a scoop of ice cream with a candle plopped in the middle to quietly congratulate grandma on another trip around the sun. Simple, sweet and most of all silent.
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