Apoplectic Chair

venue’s graphic designer, Dom, calls it the ‘screaming arse’. Which might be a tad brutal but it’s very evocative. I mean, there’s no doubting the power of the image in question — extreme, profound and unremitting discomfort.

And we’ve all experienced it. After, say, 10 minutes you start to get a little restless… restive even… The fidgets begin and you shift your back to and fro just to see if that helps. Maybe crossing your legs will do the trick. No… no it won’t. How about the other way? — right over left this time. Nup. Okay, time to remember what dad used to tell you: sit up straight like a soldier. Or, as my father would say: ‘sit on both bottoms’. Dum-de-dum-de-dum… nope. It’s simply not happening. After 20 minutes it’s all over. You’re officially suffering from Screaming Arse.

Of course, the culprit here — the perpetrator — is rife. It’s endemic. Like the march of the cane toad, the scourge of the Screaming Arse Chair has scant regard for borders and parishes. Places that cry out for comfort — for a touch of super-quilted, triple thickness, Labrador puppy luxury — are regularly being infiltrated by a chair that goads you into smashing it across the calacutta bar and flinging it into the fireplace… all before you’ve finished your aperitifs.

This issue we focus on restaurants. We talk to The Restaurateur, The Proprietor, The Executive Chef, and The Designer; each with a perspective on what makes for a great restaurant. What struck me was how often the ‘comfortable chair’ was mentioned. Little wonder, I suppose. Without that base level of comfort that allows patrons to ‘settle in’, the ‘aged-braised ox cheek sprayed with mountain goat fetta atop a comfit of comfrey slow-cooked in an Afghan tandoori clay-oven’ may as well be a cling-wrapped Papa Guiseppe pizza nuked in a microwave and left in a bain-marie for a week. Similarly, if the chairs are ‘screaming’, all the meticulous care taken in the look, the feel, the smell, the sound and the service will all be for nothing. The Screaming Arse Chair has kyboshed the lot. It’s like squirting White Crow on the petit fours, or finding your perfect waitress has Tourette’s Syndrome — an otherwise perfect evening has been undermined from the bottom up.

I realise the point I make is heavy handed, but the ‘screaming arse chair’ is a very tangible case in point about customer comfort. And this is the golden thread that can be traced through our special Restaurant Issue: understand who your customer is and do what you can to meet their needs. Make them comfortable.

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