Last week a friend of mine was in Portugal with her husband. They’d had a cat nap before heading out for dinner, but were surprised to find many of the restaurants closed or winding up their business. They had been told people in Lisbon dined later than usual, but it seemed that they might never get a meal because they were too late.
After being told no by a couple of restaurants, they stumbled upon a small place that had a couple of tables of guests. They asked the hostess if the restaurant was still serving, and she indicated that they had just closed. Then she told them to wait and went to speak to the chef. When she came back, she announced that they would let my friends dine anyway. She and her husband owned the place and while some of the items on the menu had sold out, they could at least offer something to eat. My friends were so grateful.
As it happened, my friend has a special diet and couldn’t eat a lot of what was on the menu. She inquired about vegetables. Even though the restaurant did not serve many vegetarian items, the chef prepared her a special plate of grilled veggies and a giant layered salad, all without her asking. The couple went to a lot of effort to keep them happy and well-fed, and it was so kind. Needless to say, my friends left a huge tip and went back the next evening (much earlier, of course!).
What the restaurant did was so kind. They were within their rights to close for the night and decline to serve my friends. Instead, they showed some civility and gave them a night to remember. What a great example of excellent service.