RE: server stories...good bad and ugly!
I've had many outstanding experiences in restaurants, and don't take that for granted.
But...let me share a really bad one. The easiest way will be to share the letter I wrote to the restaurant's owner. He never responded, by the way, which I find remarkable.
I’m writing on behalf of my wife and me to share some of our experience dining at your restaurant last Saturday. I’m doing so not so much because my wife and I found the whole experience so uniquely bad it was almost comical, but because we have the strong sense that somewhere underneath the mess we encountered there may well be an enjoyable, professional, high-quality restaurant. As such, we believe you did yourself a tremendous disservice.
I’m certain you’re well aware of many of the mishaps that took place. To reference all of them here would require a three-page letter. To mention just a few:
• As we were being seated, a waiter hurriedly put two salads on our table; we hadn’t even sat down yet, yet alone ordered. (NOTE TO ROADFOOD READERS: THIS WAS NOT A PRIX FIXE MEAL; IT WAS A LA CARTE).
• My wife and I ordered drinks four times. The closest we came to receiving them was when a waiter placed an unordered bottle of Pelligrino on our table. When I informed him we hadn’t ordered the bottle, he took the glasses, put them on the table of the folks next to us (to their confusion as well as ours), and left the bottle. Beyond that, we had to literally grab waiters’ arms to even get tap water. We never received our ordered drinks.
• During our 45-minute wait for a dessert that never came (NOTE: IT WAS INCLUDED, OR ELSE WE WOULD HAVE LEFT), we sat with dirty dishes on our table for at least half an hour; yet, we were once asked if we’d been served our meals yet -- by the same waiter who'd served us. Once the dishes were finally cleared, your staff started to set up our table again as though we’d just arrived, and asked if we wanted drinks!
Beyond all of that, we were continually bumped into -- hard -- all night without one instance of someone saying excuse me (especially surprising given the fact that my wife is 8½ -months pregnant), and the food we did manage to receive was lukewarm, not to mention bad.
The only saving grace of the evening, quite frankly, is that everyone around us was having such an equally bad experience that we all started laughing about it. We all had two others things in common: none of us had ever been to (your restaurant) and none of us plans on returning.
This is particularly distressing to my wife and me, as we just recently moved into the neighborhood and had looked forward to eating at your restaurant.
I’m sure you’re even more upset than your customers. While I’m not a restaurateur, as a customer and frequent diner it seems to me that your restaurant tried to be something it’s not, and that you’re simply not equipped to serve so many people on a busy Saturday. Perhaps you’d be better off charging 50% more and accepting far fewer reservations.
I hope you’ll take these comments as they’re intended; not as angry criticism (although I think that would be justified) but as insight into one couple’s experience at your restaurant, to help you prevent it from happening to someone else.