I'm redacting the name of the restaurant and the owner from this diner's letter, which was e-mailed to the restaurant owner and cc'd to me. I'm not redacting the names out of fairness or deference; the particular restaurant isn't as important as the diner's complaint itself.
Yeah, too many restaurants are cold and drafty. And it's not just because of the recent frosty weather.
We arrived shortly after 6:00PM, and were promptly seated in the dining area. When the wait staff asked if we'd like a cocktail before dinner I responded that I'd prefer that either the heat be turned up (was it even on?), or if we could have blankets to keep us warm.
The response was that the on-site staff couldn't turn up the heat because "management" decided on & controlled temperature settings, further advising that you, [OWNER'S NAME REDACTED] were unavailable (was told you were vacationing for 2 weeks in Spain). Apparently no other management members were available to turn the heat up. We were hungry, so went ahead and ordered dinner.
The food was OK. No complaints with the wait staff. My issue is with you and the ownership of [RESTAURANT'S NAME REDACTED] for not caring enough about your customers to make certain the dining room temperature is at a comfortable level regardless of weather conditions outside.
We never took our winter coats off during our 60-70 minute visit, and were cold the entire time. We observed that all the other people in the dining room kept their coats on, too.
I suggest you either close your restaurant on nights when customer traffic is marginal (Sunday nights in January, for example), or cut back on your vacation allowance so you can afford to properly heat your establishment.
Back when I worked for my old mentor Restaurant Ray, I was charged with bringing utilty costs under control. It was a pan-Asian restaurant. It took a lot of gas to keep our woks going. Pacific Gas & Electric came out and checked all the doo-hickeys; all the equipment worked fine.
It didn't take long to figure out that the over-head gas heaters on the front patio were the real energy pigs.
It was late spring in Northern California, and nights, while attractive, were still nippy. Now you'd think that people who chose to sit outside on any evening would weather the weather, or at least bring a sweater. Nope. At first June chill, some people requested the heaters be turned on. Some people demanded the heaters be turned on.
You didn't just turn on one section of the heat -- you turned it all on. So everybody sitting in the patio was warmed up like a supermarket chicken. The bills got worse when the busboys didn't turn off the heaters when customers were gone.
My first managerial solution was to tell the manager to lie: Apologize to customers and offer to move them to a warm table inside, but just say the heaters are broken right now. The managerial solution I eventually went with was to turn the heaters on and off myself and to make sure the busboys knew what was expected of them from then on: don't be cheap and don't waste what you don't have to.
Utilities are expensive. Diners deserve some comfort.
It's a balance.
Which is where repeat business sometimes lays in cases like this.