Bad experience at Burt's Place

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danimal15
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2007/12/21 16:04:59 (permalink)

Bad experience at Burt's Place

I'm sorry to say, but our Burt's Place experience was a complete disaster.

After years of hearing this was the best pizza in Chicago, I was excited when I got the chance to take my two boys, ages 4 and 7, for dinner there (my wife was out with friends that night). We arrived at Burt's st around 6 on a Saturday and all the tables were full. No problem - we can wait. And wait. And wait.

For 10 minutes we waited by the door. The tables were still all taken - so there was no way we could be seated. But no server acknowledged our presence. We might as well have been invisible. Looking around the small room, I noticed that almost no one had their pizzas. They were waiting too.

Finally, a group of people at one table, one of the few who had actually received and eaten their food, got up and left. My kids were sick of standing around being ignored, so I decided we should all sit down. So we sat. And sat. And sat. No one came to clear away the dirty dishes. No one came to say, "Sorry- we're backed up but we'll get to you soon." The one waitress looked frenzied and when I tried to attact her attention by looking her in the eye from across the room, she immediately turned away. She walked right by our table to serve other patrons, ignoring us.

Hearing her take an order at another table and tell the patrons their pizza would take 40 minutes (we'd already been there 20 without being acknowleged), I packed up the boys and we left. We went down the street to Giordano's, where, within 20 minutes, we were enjoying our stuffed pizza.

Now maybe I should have stood up and said something to the waitress -sure - I could have been more forward. But I think it's the responsibility of a restaurant to approach its customers first, not vice versa.

And my kids were not misbehaving or acting up in any way, so I can't give the restaurant that excuse for treating us badly. I think they either plain don't want kids in the restaurant, or just are very poor at managing their establishment. As much as I'd like to sample the pizza (it looked wonderful on the other tables), I can't imagine going back anytime soon.

If anyone from Burt's wants to respond, I'd love to hear. This happpened in early October, by the way. I've been too busy until now to take the time to write.
#1

54 Replies Related Threads

    wheregreggeats.com
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    RE: Bad experience at Burt's Place 2007/12/21 16:49:12 (permalink)
    Sound like horrible management in that things were so out of control.

    Others will tell you you should have found the manager and explained why you were leaving (my advice: in doing so, under no circumstances stay.)
    #2
    soozycue520
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    RE: Bad experience at Burt's Place 2007/12/22 08:56:47 (permalink)
    From what you describe, I don't think it has anything to do with your children. To me it sounds like one overwhelmed {and possibly under-experienced} waitress was not enough to handle the number of patrons, and obviously there was no manager on the floor to help handle the situation.

    If the pizza is THAT good, and worth the trouble, maybe a call to the owner/manager would be something to consider.
    #3
    Billfish
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    RE: Bad experience at Burt's Place 2007/12/22 10:44:50 (permalink)
    Danimal did you miss this post which Buddy Roadhouse directed at you on 10/7?


    quote:
    Originally posted by danimal15

    I'm going to try Burt's tonight and I'll report back on my experience. It's my first time there. Excited to go!

    I'm going to jump in here before you comment on your experience.

    Burt's Place was featured in this month's issue of Saveur Magazine, which focuses on Chicago's restaurant and food scene in general, as Our Town's best pizza place. Needless to say, things have been a little crazy there lately. We've been regretfully turning people away on a regular basis, barely keeping up with the mad pace. We've been visited by folks from all over the country since the issue came out a few weeks ago.

    danimal, I hope your experience at Burt's was pleasant. If not, wait a few weeks until the furor dies down and give us another chance. I'm generally there on Saturday nights and would love to meet you.

    Buddy
    #4
    BuddyRoadhouse
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    RE: Bad experience at Burt's Place 2007/12/22 17:16:22 (permalink)
    Thanks Billfish, for the back up. I'm out of town at the moment, trying to respond on an unfamiliar keyboard and computer. I tried to post that response yesterday, unsuccessfully. I'll give more details when I can.

    Thanks again,

    Buddy
    #5
    danimal15
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    RE: Bad experience at Burt's Place 2007/12/26 12:00:08 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Billfish

    Danimal did you miss this post which Buddy Roadhouse directed at you on 10/7?


    quote:
    Originally posted by danimal15

    I'm going to try Burt's tonight and I'll report back on my experience. It's my first time there. Excited to go!

    I'm going to jump in here before you comment on your experience.

    Burt's Place was featured in this month's issue of Saveur Magazine, which focuses on Chicago's restaurant and food scene in general, as Our Town's best pizza place. Needless to say, things have been a little crazy there lately. We've been regretfully turning people away on a regular basis, barely keeping up with the mad pace. We've been visited by folks from all over the country since the issue came out a few weeks ago.

    danimal, I hope your experience at Burt's was pleasant. If not, wait a few weeks until the furor dies down and give us another chance. I'm generally there on Saturday nights and would love to meet you.

    Buddy


    I definitely saw it at the time, but never had a chance to post my experience till last week.
    #6
    danimal15
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    RE: Bad experience at Burt's Place 2007/12/26 12:03:14 (permalink)
    Buddy:

    I guess I should have read your message more carefully and put off my visit. I will definitely give the place another chance.

    Still, even though they've been overwhelmed since the article, I still don't see the need for them to be unfriendly to customers. I've been at overwhelmed restaurants before, but only once or twice in my life have I been completely unacknowledged and had to leave (the other time was in the 1980s at the late Hilary's in the Sears Tower).

    We will come back on a Saturday night and look for you. When do you plan to be there next?
    #7
    BuddyRoadhouse
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    RE: Bad experience at Burt's Place 2007/12/26 13:14:08 (permalink)
    danimal, you can look for me after the first of the year. Currently I am in Kansas City enjoying copious quantities of Barbecue and other local delights. I will comment further on the subject of Burt's when I get back to Chicago and am sitting at my own computer.

    Hope you all had a Merry Christmas and are working on a Happy New Year.

    Buddy
    #8
    danimal15
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    RE: Bad experience at Burt's Place 2007/12/26 14:20:28 (permalink)
    OK, Buddy. I look forward to meeting you when you return. Happy holidays, and enjoy the BBQ (have a Stroud's fried chicken meal for me while you're at it!)
    #9
    BuddyRoadhouse
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    RE: Bad experience at Burt's Place 2007/12/26 18:26:24 (permalink)
    Friday or Saturday night is Stroud's night. Tomorrow is Danny Edward's new place, Boulevard Barbecue, for lunch and possibly Smokin' Guns BBQ or BB's Lawnside for dinner. Friday lunch is up in the air as is Saturday. At some point we're heading back up to St. Jo to see the MIL and other various and sundry relatives. We'll either stop in at Jere Ann's cafeteria or a new German place, The Cabbage Roll, for lunch, or La Mesa for Mexican dinner.

    Our trip home on Sunday includes another visit to Springfield and The Dr. of BBQ who has a very large brisket and corned beef smoking for me as we speak (I presume).

    danimal, when you come in to Burt's, please wait until after you have eaten to introduce yourself. I do not want there to be the slightest suggestion that we might be going out of our way to make you happy just because of your first experience. We normally try to have you walk out of Burt's satisfied under any circumstances. These have been trying times of late and I will explain more after my return to Chicago.

    Buddy
    #10
    Logan2
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    RE: Bad experience at Burt's Place 2007/12/31 07:43:56 (permalink)
    After a disappointing experience at Pequod's on Clyborn a number of weeks back, my dining companions and I decided to try Burt's after hearing about it from some magazine and other source. While not quite as disappointing, we found Burt's pizza to be rather mediocre and would not be in a hurry to return. Service was not very good, as others have said, and I note on several threads that someone always comes up with some sort of excuse for that.
    #11
    danimal15
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    RE: Bad experience at Burt's Place 2008/01/02 11:39:26 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by BuddyRoadhouse

    Friday or Saturday night is Stroud's night. Tomorrow is Danny Edward's new place, Boulevard Barbecue, for lunch and possibly Smokin' Guns BBQ or BB's Lawnside for dinner. Friday lunch is up in the air as is Saturday. At some point we're heading back up to St. Jo to see the MIL and other various and sundry relatives. We'll either stop in at Jere Ann's cafeteria or a new German place, The Cabbage Roll, for lunch, or La Mesa for Mexican dinner.

    Our trip home on Sunday includes another visit to Springfield and The Dr. of BBQ who has a very large brisket and corned beef smoking for me as we speak (I presume).

    danimal, when you come in to Burt's, please wait until after you have eaten to introduce yourself. I do not want there to be the slightest suggestion that we might be going out of our way to make you happy just because of your first experience. We normally try to have you walk out of Burt's satisfied under any circumstances. These have been trying times of late and I will explain more after my return to Chicago.

    Buddy


    Thanks, Buddy. Sounds like you're making the most of your KC visit. I'm very jealous!

    When you return, please let me know when you'll be at Burt's and how to find you after our meal.

    Dan
    #12
    BuddyRoadhouse
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    RE: Bad experience at Burt's Place 2008/01/02 16:20:34 (permalink)
    danimal,

    I will be there this Saturday and every Saturday until my prime travel season for the Barbecue Sauce biz begins in April. If you've already been to Burt's once, you know it is positively tiny and you will have no trouble finding me. Especially since I will be your waiter!

    As promised, now that I am back in Chicago, I will also write an in depth response regarding your first experience as well as addressing the comments from the various third parties who found it necessary to chime in above. Unfortunately it will need to wait another day or two while I get caught up with all the other business I missed when we were out of town over the Holidays.

    A happy New Year to all,

    Buddy
    #13
    ChiTownDiner
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    RE: Bad experience at Burt's Place 2008/01/02 17:43:22 (permalink)
    Danimal - We've been to Burt's and really enjoyed our meal. We drove up about 45 minutes with 2 families - 4 adults and 4 kids. We got 2 tables side by side and were prepared for the evening. Lot's of talk, a salad and some drinks and it was main event time. The pizza - and we had 3 different ones - was great. It was worth the wait.

    On our evening, about half the tables were full and we did have the pleasure of waiter extrodinaire - Buddy Roadhouse. While deep dish is not my favorite type of pizza, I loved this version. It was loaded with ingredients and the crust was cooked just right.

    I'd encourage you to have another go at it.
    #14
    danimal15
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    RE: Bad experience at Burt's Place 2008/01/02 17:50:20 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by ChiTownDiner

    Danimal - We've been to Burt's and really enjoyed our meal. We drove up about 45 minutes with 2 families - 4 adults and 4 kids. We got 2 tables side by side and were prepared for the evening. Lot's of talk, a salad and some drinks and it was main event time. The pizza - and we had 3 different ones - was great. It was worth the wait.

    On our evening, about half the tables were full and we did have the pleasure of waiter extrodinaire - Buddy Roadhouse. While deep dish is not my favorite type of pizza, I loved this version. It was loaded with ingredients and the crust was cooked just right.

    I'd encourage you to have another go at it.


    I will - definitely. Now that I know Buddy is going to be there to serve us, I'll look forward to it (though I won't identify myself to him till after the meal, as he requested!)
    #15
    BuddyRoadhouse
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    RE: Bad experience at Burt's Place 2008/01/08 17:10:10 (permalink)
    Okay, as promised I started to write a detailed response to danimal’s initial post. I wrote and I wrote and I wrote until the darned thing was three pages long in Microsoft Word and it sounded like some over defensive harangue. Then I realized that I had said everything that needed to be said in my initial explanation back in October, and which Billfish reprinted in December after danimal’s bad experience.

    There was really nothing else to say. A tiny neighborhood restaurant with one pizza oven and one pizza maker; a place that seats 35 people in less than 400 square feet of space, was suddenly exposed to the entire world through Saveur, one of the most prestigious culinary magazines published. We were swamped. danimal missed my warning/apology and showed up anyway. A simple case of bad timing and missed communication. I forgive danimal if he forgives us.

    I guess the only reason I felt a need to expound further on the subject stemmed from the comments made by people who have never been to Burt’s; have no idea what the place looks like, how it is run, or why it is special and yet chose to add their two cents anyway. I should have recognized the value of the those comments to begin with and dismissed them.

    As for Logan2, I’m sorry your experience was less than stellar. You’re entitled to your opinion on the pizza and I won’t even bother contesting it. As for the service, I‘m probably the “someone [who] always comes up with some sort of excuse for that.” I take it personally because I know how much work and effort goes into trying to make things run smoothly every time Burt opens the door. There are some circumstances (as described above) that are just unmanageable where you simply make the best of things and work your hardest to keep as many people as possible happy.

    The waitress mentioned in all of these posts is Burt’s wife. She works the floor Wednesday through Sunday, except for Saturday when I am out there. We each have more than 30 years experience waiting tables. We are neither under-experienced or under-trained. We are, at the moment, overwhelmed. I compare it to the old “I Love Lucy” episode where Lucy and Ethel are employed in a chocolate factory on the assembly line. The chocolate keeps coming out of the chute relentlessly at a faster and faster rate and no matter how hard you try, no matter how fast you go, there is no way to keep up with the pace.

    So that’s the story. Either you accept the way things are or you don’t. Either you decide to come in for some of Chicago’s best pan pizza and put up with the crowds and the wait or you don’t. danimal, once again, I hope you will take another shot at us on a Saturday night. That topic line is starting to weigh heavy on my shoulders and I’m eager to see it changed to Bad Great experience at Burt's Place.

    Buddy
    #16
    TJ Jackson
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    RE: Bad experience at Burt's Place 2008/01/08 17:30:30 (permalink)
    Who takes over for you at Burt's when you go on your Roadhouse Roadshows?
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    Davydd
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    RE: Bad experience at Burt's Place 2008/01/08 18:31:28 (permalink)
    I went 900 miles to Washington DC to sample pizzas and was wondering how I was going to tackle Chicago in the future. By golly, I think I've found my place. Burt's Place.
    #18
    BuddyRoadhouse
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    RE: Bad experience at Burt's Place 2008/01/08 20:18:58 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by TJ Jackson

    Who takes over for you at Burt's when you go on your Roadhouse Roadshows?
    Burt's wife fills in when I travel. I do the same for her when she goes out of town to visit the grandkids.
    quote:
    Originally posted by Davydd

    I went 900 miles to Washington DC to sample pizzas and was wondering how I was going to tackle Chicago in the future. By golly, I think I've found my place. Burt's Place.
    Davydd, it would be my pleasure to play host to you some Saturday night. We'll need to make sure it isn't some weekend when I'm up in Minneapolis.

    Buddy
    #19
    soozycue520
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    RE: Bad experience at Burt's Place 2008/01/10 17:32:06 (permalink)
    Buddy~

    I am very sorry if my comments offended you. I have never been to Burt's, and was only commenting about the fact that I thought what happened was not a reaction to children. I did not mean to sound offensive, or put down a restaurant I've never been to. I definitely understand being "in the weeds".

    I thought about deleting my post completely, but thought it better to explain my comments and apologize for how my post might have sounded. I meant no ill will. These darned forums have a problem with inflection.

    I hope things continue to go well for Burt & family, and yourself, and when I am next in Chicago, will try to stop by for a pie.
    #20
    divefl
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    RE: Bad experience at Burt's Place 2008/01/10 17:43:33 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Davydd

    I went 900 miles to Washington DC to sample pizzas and was wondering how I was going to tackle Chicago in the future. By golly, I think I've found my place. Burt's Place.


    Living in DC I was wondering if you had any suggestions. I tend to get caught up in the familiar.
    #21
    Davydd
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    RE: Bad experience at Burt's Place 2008/01/10 20:41:27 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by divefl

    quote:
    Originally posted by Davydd

    I went 900 miles to Washington DC to sample pizzas and was wondering how I was going to tackle Chicago in the future. By golly, I think I've found my place. Burt's Place.


    Living in DC I was wondering if you had any suggestions. I tend to get caught up in the familiar.

    Right here. I guess the thread blew through over the holidays.

    http://www.roadfood.com/Forums/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=24148

    My daughter emailed me two days ago and said next time we will go to Ella's.
    #22
    BuddyRoadhouse
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    RE: Bad experience at Burt's Place 2008/01/10 20:49:39 (permalink)
    soozycue,

    Apology accepted with an additional "I'm sorry" from me to you if my response was a tad too acidic. We've been up against the wall since late September when the Saveur issue hit the stands. The problem isn't even the customers in the store. The problem lies in the never ending stream of people walking in the door even after the place is full to capacity.

    You try explaining to folks that there is just no more room and they say they'll wait. You tell them that pizzas, which normally take about 25 minutes, are running upwards of one hour or more, and they say they'll wait, no problem. This would all be fine if not for the fact that there are five, six, eight or more parties all wanting to wait around in a foyer area that can hold maybe six people. So then they start spilling into the dining room, lurking over customers who are already seated, trying to enjoy their meal. It's no fun trying to be both waiter to seated customers and policeman for people who should know better.

    So, once again, sorry for my oversensitivity. We're working as hard as we can, moving as fast as we can to take care of as many folks as we can in a limited amount of space and a limited amount of time. I hope to see as many of you as possible once the madness dies down a little.

    Buddy

    #23
    Michael Hoffman
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    RE: Bad experience at Burt's Place 2008/01/10 21:02:17 (permalink)
    Sounds as if you've got something great going on. I'll bet you'll have it going fine soon. And from what I've read here it sounds like a place I'd love to go.
    #24
    danimal15
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    RE: Bad experience at Burt's Place 2008/01/11 13:31:01 (permalink)
    Buddy - are you there tomorrow night? (1/12)
    #25
    danimal15
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    RE: Bad experience at Burt's Place 2008/01/11 13:34:38 (permalink)
    And Buddy - I would love to be the one to put up a new thread called "Great Experience at Burt's Place" - and I will (if it's great!)
    #26
    BuddyRoadhouse
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    RE: Bad experience at Burt's Place 2008/01/11 13:55:24 (permalink)
    Michael, knowing that you are a devotee of the East Coast pie with a special emphasis on Connecticut, you will need to come to terms with the Chicago Pizza-in-the Pan if you are going to enjoy Burt's. Assuming you can pull that off, you might very well have a good time there.

    The atmosphere is very retro, but not in a reproduced or calculated way. Real knotty pine paneling, well worn old leatherette booths, and a carpet that readily shows the regular traffic patterns tell you that this place is the real Roadfood deal. The building was originally the village blacksmith shop. There are two old photos hanging on the wall showing how little the place has changed in over a hundred years.

    Burt has a collection of antique radios on display throughout the dining room along with a myriad of quirky odds and ends ranging from working old toy steam engines to vintage documentary film cameras to a huge wooden plane propeller mounted to the wall. Other photos, besides the blacksmith shots, include panoramic views of Chicago the day after the fire, and preparations for the opening ceremonies of (we think) the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm.

    Michael, you would also appreciate Burt himself. Although not the outdoorsman you are, he is an avid collector of antique and collectible firearms (not on display) and was quite the marksman in his day. We went out skeet shooting some years ago and I was amazed at his ability with a shotgun. He is also a world traveler, having hitchhiked across Europe in his youth and later driving across Asia and southern Europe on a ten month honeymoon (we're talking early '60s, when you could still get fairly easy access to countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran). He has a wealth of stories which, unfortunately, can only be shared when he's not busy making pizzas in the kitchen; a rare thing these days.

    Anyway, if you ever decide to dis-ensconce yourself from central Ohio and head west to Chicago, we'd be happy to have you. I think you'd like the place.

    Buddy
    #27
    BuddyRoadhouse
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    RE: Bad experience at Burt's Place 2008/01/11 14:10:16 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by danimal15

    Buddy - are you there tomorrow night? (1/12)
    Yup, from 4:30 to 10pm
    quote:
    And Buddy - I would love to be the one to put up a new thread called "Great Experience at Burt's Place" - and I will (if it's great!)
    I understand the requirements and accept the challenge.

    But I also need you to please understand the seating limitations we are working with. Last Saturday night I turned away at least two tables because we were totally full up and they didn't want to wait. There are several options though. First is to come at a non peak time; either well before or after the typical dinner hours of 6 to 8pm. The other thing to do is call your order in ahead of time (use your last name since, for the sake of objectivity, we don't want you to identify yourself until after dinner). It has been near impossible to get through during those peak hours (yes, we're that busy), so I recommend calling very early, even before we're open (say 3pm), to place an order for a later time.

    danimal, I really want to make this a pleasant experience for you. But we do have these pesky lines of customers all wanting to come in for pizza. Believe me there's nothing personal going on here if it takes longer to seat and serve you than you'd like. It's just the reality of having a very small, very (at least for the moment) popular restaurant.

    Hope to see you tomorrow night!

    Buddy
    #28
    danimal15
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    RE: Bad experience at Burt's Place 2008/01/11 14:42:34 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by BuddyRoadhouse

    quote:
    Originally posted by danimal15

    Buddy - are you there tomorrow night? (1/12)
    Yup, from 4:30 to 10pm
    quote:
    And Buddy - I would love to be the one to put up a new thread called "Great Experience at Burt's Place" - and I will (if it's great!)
    I understand the requirements and accept the challenge.

    But I also need you to please understand the seating limitations we are working with. Last Saturday night I turned away at least two tables because we were totally full up and they didn't want to wait. There are several options though. First is to come at a non peak time; either well before or after the typical dinner hours of 6 to 8pm. The other thing to do is call your order in ahead of time (use your last name since, for the sake of objectivity, we don't want you to identify yourself until after dinner). It has been near impossible to get through during those peak hours (yes, we're that busy), so I recommend calling very early, even before we're open (say 3pm), to place an order for a later time.

    danimal, I really want to make this a pleasant experience for you. But we do have these pesky lines of customers all wanting to come in for pizza. Believe me there's nothing personal going on here if it takes longer to seat and serve you than you'd like. It's just the reality of having a very small, very (at least for the moment) popular restaurant.

    Hope to see you tomorrow night!

    Buddy


    Thanks, Buddy. I won't mind if I have to wait (I'll come non-peak hours if I can convince my wife tomorrow's a good night to do it). I understand you're a small place and demand is high. Hopefully we can make it tomorrow, but if not, probably in the next few weeks.

    Dan
    #29
    Michael Hoffman
    Double-chop Porterhouse
    • Total Posts : 18362
    • Joined: 2000/07/01 08:52:00
    • Location: Gahanna, OH
    • Status: offline
    RE: Bad experience at Burt's Place 2008/01/11 16:33:58 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by BuddyRoadhouse

    Michael, knowing that you are a devotee of the East Coast pie with a special emphasis on Connecticut, you will need to come to terms with the Chicago Pizza-in-the Pan if you are going to enjoy Burt's. Assuming you can pull that off, you might very well have a good time there.

    The atmosphere is very retro, but not in a reproduced or calculated way. Real knotty pine paneling, well worn old leatherette booths, and a carpet that readily shows the regular traffic patterns tell you that this place is the real Roadfood deal. The building was originally the village blacksmith shop. There are two old photos hanging on the wall showing how little the place has changed in over a hundred years.

    Burt has a collection of antique radios on display throughout the dining room along with a myriad of quirky odds and ends ranging from working old toy steam engines to vintage documentary film cameras to a huge wooden plane propeller mounted to the wall. Other photos, besides the blacksmith shots, include panoramic views of Chicago the day after the fire, and preparations for the opening ceremonies of (we think) the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm.

    Michael, you would also appreciate Burt himself. Although not the outdoorsman you are, he is an avid collector of antique and collectible firearms (not on display) and was quite the marksman in his day. We went out skeet shooting some years ago and I was amazed at his ability with a shotgun. He is also a world traveler, having hitchhiked across Europe in his youth and later driving across Asia and southern Europe on a ten month honeymoon (we're talking early '60s, when you could still get fairly easy access to countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran). He has a wealth of stories which, unfortunately, can only be shared when he's not busy making pizzas in the kitchen; a rare thing these days.

    Anyway, if you ever decide to dis-ensconce yourself from central Ohio and head west to Chicago, we'd be happy to have you. I think you'd like the place.

    Buddy

    Sounds interesting. I have to say my only exp[erience with what I guess is called Chicago-style was one visit to a Pizzeria Uno that was open here for a few years. I've been told not to judge Chicago-style pies based on that experience.
    #30
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