A restaurant manager, on the other hand, would likely offer you a taste, recommend a great pairing dip, and then offer to make you a reservation at the check-out counter

Tragically, Bangkok lost some superb restaurants last year and sadly, continues to lose more. With each closure, the staff, many of whom have been well trained and passionate about the services they provided, are often left to try and find employment elsewhere, wait and hope things improve, try launching their own entrepreneurial pursuits, or simply move onto something else.

Why then have grocery stores, often known for having rather disinterested employees, not gone after these talented employees? Wouldn’t it make sense to replace disinterested staff with passionate ones?

Food is what they both specialize in, no?

Imagine walking through a Gourmet Market produce department and having a staff member, perhaps a laid-off sommelier, walk you through the fresh oranges; highlighting where the oranges were grown, able to discuss the differences between each of the varieties, give some tips on the flavor profiles, discuss the farms and farmers behind the oranges, and even able to justify why one particular orange is more expensive than another.

At the moment, the disengaged guy working the produce section has a hard time recognizing the obvious differences between the dragon fruit and the Asian fragrant pears. And when you ask where the organic tomatoes are, all you often get is a blunt, “No have.”

Or, imagine a furloughed restaurant manager working the chips and cookies section at Tops able to answer your questions with casual expertise, a joyful willingness, and a keen interest in granting shoppers (you) a memorable hospitality experience.

At the moment, the young woman working the chips & cookies section is only familiar with the Pringles. She’s got 30 different kinds of chips in front of her and she only knows Pringles? And she’ll not be able to recommend a flavor. Trust me, I’ve tried.

A restaurant manager, on the other hand, would likely offer you a taste, recommend a great pairing dip, and then offer to make you a reservation at the check-out counter.

I’d definitely return to that Tops.

Or what about imagining an Assistant Restaurant Manager hired by Villa Market to be able to suggest a beer, steak, and ice cream pairing that can knock your socks off.

Wouldn’t this be a preferred shopping experience? Yes, of course, there are many of us that just prefer to be left alone and simply find things on our own. But if you do have a question or an in inquiry on a product, it’s nice to have trust that someone knowledgeable, skilled, and well-trained can answer your questions. At the moment, there is no trust. In fact, too often there’s barely a ‘service.’

Frustratingly, and currently, the Villa employee simply tells you that they cannot serve alcohol between 2 and 5pm. Ugh. I know that already.

In a city that is known so much for its love of food, cooking, ingredients, and of course eating, why do the employees at the grocery stores know so little and care even less about FOOD?

Do the markets not see there’s a correlation between shopper satisfaction and sales? Are they simply too overwhelmed with other things that a strategic push to get more knowledge into the hands of shoppers via employees that care is not part of their vision?  

Tops, Villa, Gourmet Market, Tesco Lotus, Big C -- please help us understand. In a time of tepid spending and great uncertainty, are you not interested in seeing your revenues jump by double-digit %s? Hiring laid-off restaurant staff can get you there.