I love good food. One of my absolute favorite parts about living in Austin is the amazing food scene and I feel privileged to have been involved in parts of making local restaurants look good.
One of the important parts of the launch of a new establishment is performing a soft opening. Traditionally, soft openings are open to anyone who happens to hear about it and often provides discounted meals as the new front of house and kitchen staffs get their bearings. This is an important testing and training period for a new restaurant.
Today, we tried to go to a new food trailer opening up a couple blocks from our house. The trailer had a line and lots of happy people outside noshing on their tasty victuals. However, when we got up to the window we were turned away. The man behind the window say this was a soft opening for family and friends only.
I have been genuinely excited to try this place, but being turned away after seeing a bunch of people enjoying their food because we weren't relationally close enough to the owners left a bad taste in my mouth.
Most restauranteurs understand the importance of developing a good relationship with their neighbors. This place apparently failed to understand the ill will they could generate by showing and then denying. It seems preposterous to me that a trailer would have a soft opening with a limited guest list.
Trailers operate in a public space with all the world to see. There are no doors or walls to hide the fact that people are enjoying your food. At the very least put up a sign saying it's a private event so those of us who aren't invited don't face the embarrassment or disappointment of trying to order something. But even better, open with a limited menu and limited amount of food to test. We would've paid full price.
And if you invite only people you know, how do you expect to get honest feedback about your food and service? Being wide out in the open, why would you tease everyone in your neighborhood?
I can't imagine we were the only people not on the inside to try to eat at Paperboy today. In fact, I saw lots of people getting turned away as I sat across the street wishing I was eating something else.
Now, as much I wanted to try the food, I'm a little miffed at them for not being mindful of their new neighbors. Maybe I'm just getting old, but I think a little etiquette can go a long way.