Lebanese have been know to live as free birds... I am not saying that this is often a good thing but this is how we are – call it chaos, but I like to call it ‘freedom’ – it makes any situation look fine and acceptable…
But the funny part is that in some simpler things in life, we don’t have much of choice (that is besides all the things we deserve from our government, from our leaders, from society...) but we're here to talk about something simpler and a good example is, “Do I have a choice between Coca-Cola and Pepsi? A bottle of Almaza or a bottle of 961 Beer…” Nope, you don’t. You drink what they serve and that’s it. Either this or that and rarely both are offered in most restaurants in Lebanon.
Why should we accept to eat and drink what restaurant owners decide we should, just because it is more profitable for them! When, we, as consumers, have the right to choose? Personally, at a restaurant I expect to drink Coca-Cola because I don't like Pepsi. I would like to have a fresh bottle of San Pellegrino because it's lighter and doesn't contain as much sodium as Perrier. I expect to have the choice to choose my kind of beer since Lebanon has a wide choice of different kinds and not just obliged to drink one brand like Almaza most of the time. I expect to have a choice – freedom to choose.
Let us talk about things as they are: Dear consumers, did you know that restaurants have exclusivity deals that generate more profit with any of the above brands and even others? A deal, that is twice as much more profitable considering that the exclusivity generates cash. We have had enough of following the restaurants rules... We are the customers and customers are kings – and since we’re on the topic of freedom at a restaurant:
- We demand to park our own car in front of the restaurant's door
- We demand to have free valet parking and not a minimum charge of 5,000L.L and sometimes 10,000L.L (considering that valet parking companies pay the restaurants a monthly commission)
- We demand to have nonsmoking closed environment where the law gets respected
- We demand to choose any brand we like, especially the local ones that can refresh our economy
- We demand to be free
Consumers have been following a trend where the bad follows the worse and has reached the worst to say the least: Bad waiters, mediocre service, average food, a valet parking empire that controls us, the Arguile trend, replacing the oxygen we breath... And no one is saying anything… and we are accepting it all. Last week, having dinner at L'Oca Matta, the valet parking gives me a paper on which is written (10,000L.L). Considering that the street is full, I didn't have another choice but pay to pay the 10,000L.L they are charging. What a scam! Let's do the math: 15 tables/night. 3 cars/table. 450,000L.L/day. 13,500,000L.L/month. That's a total of 9,000$ split between the valet company and the restaurant owner. "Is this a restaurant serving food or selling parking services?" The Valet issue has become uncontrollable lately. These companies who rent the door of the restaurant, oblige you with a minimum fee of 5, 7 or 10,000L.L. Huge amounts of money where the restaurant owner gets his cut in style.
Food... What's happening to the food quality and taste? We Lebanese are proud of our local creations, proud of the Turkish influence in almost all our plates that we improved to be better than Turkish food itself. We have created Pizzas better than Italians, burgers better than Americans and French culinary wonders up to the standard of Michelin starred restaurants. Many international names have dreamt of opening business in Lebanon making it the hub of different culture until Dubai erupted. All of this, and we accept to eat mediocre food... At incredibly high prices? It is time to say NO! With the thousands of restaurants available in our tiny 10,452 sqkm, and with the harsh competition out there, it is time "we" the money spenders react and expect the pampering we deserve at any restaurant – big, small, rich, poor…
We simply have the right to choose.