When I was a young boy, my parents taught me to be a good boy, to stand up for what I believe in, and to play by the rules. Those rules applied to anyone that wanted to be just a good boy as I was, and ultimately to those that “wanted to go to heaven”. These rules slowly transposed to everyday situations, and quickly enough I understood instructions in public transport, at cinemas or other public places to be important and to be followed. The example I want to focus on today is restaurants.

You are taught to sit up straight, not to play with your phone, generally: to follow standards that were in some case created hundreds of years ago. You are also asked to order from a menu as this is what the chef decided to be the best – the chef’s rules so to speak.

Now it seems that the older you get, the more you start appreciating them rules not being applied for you (or is that just me?). When I go to a restaurant, and I fancy a particular dish, but with a different side or prepared in a different way, and the waiter/chef agrees to this without any issues, I feel valued in my desires as a customer. The same goes for me going to a restaurant in a very casual attire, and not being looked at funny, as this confirms to me that my personality is more likeable than my clothing style is dis-likeable.

It has come to my attention that asian (in particular chinese) restaurants apply this to new as well as to existing customers. If there is a particular dish you fancy that is not on the menu, and if they for instance bought this type of dish for their family, they will still prepare it for you. If you go to a chinese restaurant at 4 in the afternoon, for as long as there is someone there that knows how to start the oven, they will prepare a delicious meal for you. I am under the impression that only Adriano&Co in Luxembourg has the same positive approach as a non-asian restaurant.

The question remains whether this makes me feel:

  • valued as a customer as they build their model around me
  • or important enough for the others to break their rules to please me

What do you think, and do you believe other service providers should bend their rules more often? Should the rules be adapted so as to reflect the needs of a changing society? No more menus or fixed serving times –> flexibility for workers that need to work ever more flexible hours?