Steak and Shake [Review]

This review is on not one but two different Steak and Shake restaurants. I am doing this as a combined review to give you insight on how the same brand can provide different service results based on location. If the brand has a point, focus and goal that sets the customer expectation, then you would think that this would be passed on to all employees but that is not always a case and if so then it is not really a brand but more of a vision for the corporation that will never be realized.

Brand recognition is not the end all be all for corporations. You must be willing to commit to your brand if you want customers to buy-in to the fact that they must frequent your locations and/or buy your product. This is the area where most brands fall short. Their commercials, social media messages and advertisements promise you one thing, however, the employees that actually interface with the customer never really understand or even care about what the brand is trying to sell and therefore end up disappointing the end customer which costs the brand repeat and new business.

Now on to the reviews; I frequent Steak and Shakes all over Indianapolis (due to my son’s insistence) and more often than not I tend to receive the same level of service. The level of service I receive has never once made me say “Wow, I have to come back here and eat”. Usually it is just your basic fast food restaurant experience with delivery of food to the table. Every now and then I will get a waitress that really knows how to make the customer experience everything it should be but those are far and few between.

Most of the time we go to the same Steak and Shake restaurant that is near my house and appears to be frequented by a few regulars, shoppers heading up and down Washington street  and highway travelers alike due to its location. I have never been impressed with the service or thought of it as exceptional. Yet I returned time and time again due to the proximity to my home local and the ever insistence of my son to go eat their chicken strips and french-fries with cheese.

I do want to mention that I have had a few waitresses there that have addressed me by my name, which they snuck a peak at my company badge hanging on my belt to get and that is a little bit telling that they do want to provide good service or at least get a good tip.

This past weekend however, we ended up on the west side of town and were looking for a DQ (which I found not a one of) and ended up at the Steak and Shake which is exactly the opposite of the one we usually frequent. Really, it was exactly opposite and I mean like Bizzaro World opposite. It was on the opposite side of town, the opposite side of the street, the waitresses were genuinely friendly and helpful and the atmosphere in the restaurant was very pleasant (I would almost call it ambiance.)

Now I am not about to tell you that the food was wonderful because in reality, if you have dined at one fine Steak and Shake establishment, you have tasted what each and every one has to offer. I will tell you that I will no longer be frequenting the previously mentioned Steak and Shake that is close to my house. I have been ruined and my eyes were opened as to what it was about the location close to my house that had bothered me on all my previous visits which I had not been able to put my finger on, and that was the general atmosphere of the place.

During my stop at the west side Steak and Shake I noticed that the place was very warm and inviting to be in. My son and I had a good conversation, were promptly served and followed-up with in a timely manner by a very professional and charming waitress. I noticed that the other waitresses that were working at the time also had the same demeanor and were very friendly as well. There was no arguing, bickering and general bitching that I have observed/overheard frequently at the east side location by the staff. The east side staff seem to be overly boisterous and are more concerned with their break times and the coming and goings of the rest of the staff rather than the comfort and level of service they are providing their customers.

I do not believe I need to say any more about the differences between the staff at the two locations but suffice it to say that each team has very different methods for how they treat their customers. When I think about it, I feel that it is very hard to believe that both teams work for the same corporation and are trying to present the same values and level of service as the other. But maybe I have that wrong and a chain is just a chain and the individual owner is allowed to present whatever atmosphere they feel they need regardless of the corporate impact or how customer feel about their dining experience.

Pros:

  • Good food at good prices but don’t forget if they have the kids eat free deal, you have to spend $8.00 on the adult(s) for this to be available to you.
  • Consistency in the quality and taste of food being served. My experience in this area has not changed in more than 20 years.

Cons:

  • Your experience may be greatly enhanced or negatively impacted depending on the staff working. This is not unusual but there should be more consistency in hiring and training of staff across the board.
  • Can be expensive but they now offer four meals for under $4.00 and they are worth it. You can however send your bill soaring if you order shakes and/or deserts which may just push you into the $20.00+ range for two people.

Summary:

  • My expectations were met 100% at the west side location and I will go back when on that side of town. The staff was top notch and everything was as I had expected them to be.
  • My expectations were met at about the 75% mark for the east side location due to the fact that I may go to Stake and Shake for my son because he enjoys the food but I pick and go to restaurants for the atmosphere and how comfortable I will feel there. No one likes to go places where they are made to feel uncomfortable.

Rating – West Side Location:

Rating – East Side Location:

 

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