Pizza Hut is one of my favourite places to eat. The pizzas are far tastier than anything I’ve ever found elsewhere, it’s always clean and tidy, but most impressive is that the staff are really good. In the last few years I’ve been to their restaurants1 in Solihull, Oxford, York and London, and in each case the service has been friendly, efficient and prompt. The waiters/waitresses are always polite, always smile and nothing’s too much trouble. In the retail sector HMV is similar, although not to quite the same extent.
This evening Mum, Dad and I went to Pizza Hut in Solihull. It’s in the middle of a large shopping complex, and we were seated next to the front of the restaurant, where a waist-high wall separated us from passers-by. It wasn’t quiet, but you don’t go to Pizza Hut expecting that, so it wasn’t a problem. We ordered the food, including two starters at £2.99 each, and were told by the waitress that if we ordered a third the price would drop to £5. Great. So we were halfway through the potato wedges when all the lights in the shopping complex went out. All the shops, including Pizza Hut, still had power, so we continued eating. We heard an announcement directing all staff to the exits, followed by a call to all shoppers to evacuate the building. The staff at Pizza Hut immediately all got together, found out what was going on, and explained. We were ok to keep on eating, they said.
After a while it became apparent that the downstairs doors must be open, as there was a very cold wind blowing into the restaurant. Our waitress was quickly over to say that as soon as another table became available we were very welcome to move. She explained that nobody was being allowed into the complex, but that we could take as long as we liked to finish. I guess health and safety dictates that the public can’t walk around in darkened areas – somebody’d just fall over and sue. Once we’d eaten the pizzas the waitress offered us complimentary hot drinks to make up for the cold. At no point did we feel rushed or unwanted in any way.
We left her a large tip, and as Dad was paying he asked how much training they receive. It turns out they have to attend a four-week course before they can start serving food. I’d assume they pay more than similar establishments, too.
It really makes a difference when the staff (at least seem to) care.
I can’t leave this post without mentioning my one less-than-exemplary experience with Pizza Hut. In 2004 Nod and I arrived in Los Angeles at about 2200 after hours and hours of getting lost in the city. We were exhausted, had no idea where best to eat and didn’t feel like driving anywhere. In our hotel room was the number for the local pizza hut and a statement that they deliver, but that was all. Having no idea of the menu, but assuming it’d be vaguely similar to the UK one, I phoned. It went something like this:
Hi, I’d like to order some pizzas to be delivered, please?
Right. Can I get a chicken feast with…
A pizza with chicken, or something?
Cheese. A basic cheese pizza. Two basic cheese pizzas.
Yep. Anything else?
Have you got potato wedges?
Nothing else, that’s great.
Not my finest hour. However, within twenty minutes we’d received two basic cheese pizzas, and they tasted good.
- there’s probably a more apt word than this, but I can’t think of it right now [↩]