As a business owner or manager you wear many hats. One hat you likely never take off is that of being a problem solver.
Check out what restaurant manager, Tony Posnanski, did when presented with a seemingly typical problem. Upon realizing this situation wasn’t as typical as it originally seemed, Mr. Posnanski made a decision that ultimately changed how he approaches life and customer service forever.
This story has reached a broad audience. Here is a small sample of those numbers:
Huffington Post – 208,000 Facebook Likes and 40,675 Shares
Pop Sugar Moms shared it to their Facebook page which has 1 million Facebook followers
On his own Facebook page for Autism Awareness Day, Mr. Posnanski refers to it as his ‘Most Powerful and Favorite Post’
On his own website, theantijared.com, this story has been shared over 14,000 times.
Although, this is absolutely not about the money, that kind of exposure is an excellent return on $16. The real value, however, is the difference he made for himself and for the woman and daughter dining in his restaurant.
Going out to eat as a family becomes more difficult, if not impossible, for special needs families. There are many ways we can work together to make it an experience that works for the restaurant, other dining families and the special needs family.
Are you a restaurant owner or manager who would like to know how? Or do you already have something in place that works and want to share it? Please let us know.
I hope you enjoy this wonderful story.
To the Woman and Child Who Sat at Table 9
To the woman and child who sat at Table 9,
I did not introduce myself to you. My name is Tony Posnanski. I have been a restaurant manager for 15 years now. My day consists of making sure my restaurant runs well. That could mean washing dishes, cooking and sometimes even serving tables. I have also dealt with every guest complaint you can imagine.
A few weeks back you came into my restaurant. I was very busy that night. I was running around helping the kitchen cook food. I was asked to talk to a table close to yours. I did and they said your child was being very loud. I heard some yelling while I was talking to that table. I heard a very loud beep from a young girl.
I started to walk to your table. You knew what I was going to ask. You saw the table I just spoke to pointing at you. I got to your table and you looked at me. You wanted the first word. You said…
“Do you know what it is like to have a child with autism?”
You were not rude when you asked the question. In fact, you were quite sincere. Your daughter could not have been more than 5 years old. She was beautiful and looked scared that I was at the table. She looked like she thought she was in trouble.
In 15 years I do not have a lot of memorable moments as a restaurant manager. I remember some guests who were mad that their burgers were not the way they wanted them. I remember a woman who called corporate on me because she said I gave her a regular Coke instead of a Diet Coke. I remember having to cut people off from drinking alcohol and I remember having to tell tables to have their child be quieter.
However, I do remember everything about the day my son was born. How I cried when I heard him cry. How I stood there and told him I would do anything for him and be the best father possible. I remember the day I married my wife. How I cried and promised to be the best husband possible. I remember the day my daughter was born. I did not cry that day. I was just so relieved because I lost a child two years earlier.
I know what I was supposed to say when I went to your table. I was supposed to politely tell you to please not have your daughter yell. I was supposed to offer to move you to another area. I was supposed to offend you by not offending you…
I did not do any of that.
Instead I just told you I hoped your meal was awesome. I high-fived your daughter and then I told you that your meal was on us tonight. It was only $16. It meant more to me than that. I do not think the other guests I spoke to were happy about it. At that moment it did not matter to me.
I do not know how you reacted. I had to leave to go cook because the kitchen was not doing very well that night. When the server asked me why I bought the food I just said you did not enjoy your steak. I did not tell anyone what you said to me. I was thankful you did say it to me, though.
You asked me a question that I did not answer. The truth is I do not know what it is like to have a child with autism. I know what it is like to be a father. I know what it is like to be a husband. I know what it is like to not tell your wife how much you love her enough. I know what it is like to want to spend more time with your children.
You asked me the question right away. You have been through this before in other restaurants. I did not want to be like other managers for one moment. I did not want to tell you what you always heard.
Honestly, I wrote this to you and your beautiful daughter because I wanted to thank you both.
You have given me a great restaurant memory. One that I needed for the last 15 years.
You also taught me a valuable lesson…
Sometimes doing the right thing does not make everyone happy — just the people who need it the most.
This post originally appeared on The Anti-Jared.