Yesterday we posted a story regarding some recent changes at the Texarkana Steak ‘n Shake Restaurant that included a photo of a note that was taped to the front door of the restaurant. We have spoken with the new owner, and we feel she should be heard.
In all fairness I want you to know that I am an administrator on the Facebook group “Texarkana Cheers & Jeers” and have been for a while. I try to stay neutral, but I also share. Since there have been a lot of posts about Steak ‘n Shake over the past year, I feel like I am fairly knowledgeable on the current situation.
Rita Morgan purchased the Texarkana Steak ‘n Shake restaurant a few months back, she owns multiple businesses in the DFW area but this is her very first Steak n Shake franchise. She began the purchase process at the end of last year. At the end of 2015 the restaurant was struggling under the previous owner, John Ryden. When the business opened in March of 2015 there were hiccups, as you would expect with any grand opening of any business, and the restaurant never seemed to get ahead of the hounds. The biggest complaint about the new business were all service related issues… my order was wrong, my order took a long time, cashier didn’t smile, etc… but comments have always been positive for the food and the prices.
Under the original ownership the Texarkana store terminated approximately 316 employees. (Think about that, 316 people in less than a year… that’s an employee a day.) A lot of disgruntled employees took to social media to complain in the heat of their anger, and it spread. There were still struggles with service and people continued to spread their opinions on social media. There are a number of critic type pages on Facebook, where everyone is a critic, and for a while it almost seemed like the new trendy thing to do was bash Steak ‘N Shake with groups like Texarkana Cheers & Jeers, Texarkana’s Good, Bad, & Tastiest, among others. Having the kind of turn-over that they did, the massive amounts of people complaining about waiting 20 minutes for a table in a non-fast food restaurant, and every other tiny little thing, it became really hard to find dependable help to work there. It is a fact of the world we are living in today… and you know it. Customer service is dying, and people have been saying that about all industries long before Ms. Rita bought Steak ‘N Shake.
Here we are in June of 2016, and this lady has purchased a business that was in the ditch and she wants to get it back on the road and running right. Meanwhile, just like the whole “Salsa-gate” thing on Cheers & Jeers won’t go away, people just kept beating the dead horse about service at Steak ‘n Shake. To address the problem, Ms. Rita called the restaurant and gave instructions on what she wanted to happen, which is switch to “counter-service” until they can get proper staffing and training. An employee wrote the note, intended for the staff to understand the changes, added some of that employee’s own language then taped the note to the front door. I talked to Ms. Rita about that and she was appalled that the note was posted on the front door and took full responsibility for it. Being able to read between some lines, I believe I understand how the miscommunication occurred. Ms. Rita said on the phone, in passing as we talked, that she should have made sure the person on the phone knew not to post the list publicly but didn’t even think to say that. My mind flashed to when I was little and my mom would joke about how she would have to be crystal clear when she gave me instructions after she once caught me naked in the bathtub with no water, and my defense to her was, “you said to take my clothes off and get in the bathtub, you didn’t say I had to put water in it.” Mama made sure I understood what she meant after that. I respect how Ms. Rita was taking responsibility for the misunderstanding even though I believe it was never meant to be posted to the public. I had a long conversation with Ms. Morgan…
I asked about the decision to go to “counter-service”.
I did not want to do that. Still don’t want to do that, but so many of the complaints were about bad service, slow service, even no service on quite a few comments. The customers were so upset they just got up and left. So many complaints about service, I thought okay, we have to try something different.
I asked about the high-turnover with the staff,
We want to build not just a staff, but a team. One of the major attractions to the Steak N’ Shake franchise is that it is a fun place. A fun place to work, a fun work environment, and a fun atmosphere for diners, and that is really what I am wanting it to be.
I asked about plans for the business going forward,
More team members that want to be here, we need good people to work and more training from Steak N Shake corporate for all of our employees, managers and me.
I asked could say anything to the people that have been sounding off with opinions on social media what would it be?
We want to be everything that we all expect from the Steak N Shake brand. We are going to make the needed changes to do that. I hope that we don’t get bashed to hard while we make some changes to give everybody a better experience. We want to make it happen as fast as possible but have to kind of work with other people’s schedules too, but we want to make all of the necessary efforts to improve the performance for customers and our people. That, and that I don’t have anything to do with Denny’s in Texarkana, I don’t even know how that got started.
I enjoyed my conversation with Ms. Morgan. I believe she is sincere and I hope to meet with her when she gets to town next week at the Texarkana store. I intend to record a conversation with her and will share it here and on my Facebook pages.
Nobody expects anyone to have a perfect experience at Steak ‘N Shake anytime real soon, but we can start to point out some positive things about the business. Anybody can post about problems, it’s easy, but try to be one of those people that can point out a problem AND offer a possible solution. If you have no idea how to fix an issue, does it help for me to tell you there is an issue but offer no advice to help?
She really wants the restaurant to be a part of our community, and she wants the community’s input to do that. Can you offer some constructive criticism that could help?