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Old 10-11-2006, 10:00 AM   #1
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Not the best restaurant experience

We went out to eat at a local place the other night because I had a weird craving for that restaurant. We were seated right away as the place was not all that busy. I would say they were at 50% capacity.

I ordered the fajitas which I have had there before and they have been outstanding. It took a very long time for our order to come out. By the time it came out my DW had finished her drink so she asked the waiter to bring her a water. I noticed the guacamole was missing from my dish and I also did not have a place so I asked for both of those things. The guacamole arrived, but still no plate. Finally a few minutes later the plate arrives, but still no water for my wife.

I start to make my first fajita and realize that the peppers and onions are so cooked that they are non-existant. They are basically a few black strings fused to the cast iron plate. there was maybe 2 pieces of pepper that were salvagable.

The hostess comes over to ask how our meal is and I said it is fine except for the peppers and onions. She offeres to have the cook make up some more, but based on how long it was taking for them to do everything else I declined. She never offered an apology and just started talking about how cute our baby is. Well at least the hostess had good taste

Our waiter comes over a short while later, still without DW's water, and asks how everything is. I mention the water and also point out the onions and peppers. His response blew me away. He said "well there is really nothing I can do about that other than offer my apology". First off, he never actually apologized. He just said he could offer one. That is not the same thing in my book. Secondly there were numerous things he could have done about it. he could have offered to have more cooked up (as the hostess did). He could have offered to take it (or a portion of it) off the bill. he could have offered a comp dessert. he could have asked what he could do to make it better. now if he had offered to take it off the bill or comp a dessert or something like that then I have have thanked him and then said it was not necessary to do. my meal was still tasty and everyone is entitled to make mistakes so I was fine paying the whole bill. The offer would have gone a long way in making me feel better though.

Here is the part that really gets me though. Two more times, both the hostess and waiter came by to ask how everything was. What did they think was going to change?

When the waiter brought the bill that was the only time he showed concern. He explained to us at that point that they has a new staff in the kitchen and they are still learning the ropes etc. DW instantly thought that the only reason he was telling us at that point was so his tip did not suffer. I almost never tip less than 20%, but in this situation I only left 15%. no this was not the worst experience I have had and yes they restaurant did make one effort to correct the problem, but it was still a very dis-satisfying experience.

OK I feel better now that I have that off my chest

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Old 10-11-2006, 10:06 AM   #2
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Isn't it frustrating? I will say, however, that the waiter usually doesn't have control over comping, or adjusting your price; that's up to the hostess or manager. He, however, does have control over water and place settings; for that, I would have docked him more than 15%!!! And re when the hostess asked if you'd like your order replaced, I would have said yes; because then she would have had to go into the kitchen and address the 'new staff' (I've heard that one before, lol!), and maybe the issue would have gotten taken care of.
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Old 10-11-2006, 10:07 AM   #3
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THere are times when a kitchen has no rhythm and those nights just don't go right. BUt if it happens a second time, it's not a matter of rhythm but of staffing problems not yet solved...time to go eat elsewhere.
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Old 10-11-2006, 10:14 AM   #4
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Marm usually I would have accepted the offer to have the kitchen correct it, but in this case it would have taken too long, or at least that was my fear. My wife would have been done eating and the steak in my fajitas would have been cold by the time they brought out the onions and peppers.

What really got me though was his response of "there is really nothing I can do". That just schocked me. There is always something you can do. If he does not have the authority to do something then he can talk to someone who does. basicall what he told me, without using these words, was tough $%^&.

Robo, this is a restaurant that we have been to many times. it is a pub type restaurant so we are certainly not expecting 5 star service. Most of the times we have been there we have left extremely happy. There have been a few times that were not the greatest, but we expect and accept that. overall the place is great and we know that no one can get it right everytime so that is fine. I just wish the attitude of this waiter was a little more customer friendly.
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Old 10-11-2006, 10:21 AM   #5
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I've been in the hospitality business for more than 20 years, and I realize there are times when everything goes wrong in the kitchen That is NEVER an excuse for the front of the house to drop the ball. Your dinner should have been comped whether you wanted it done or not. The hostess or manager or both should have been falling all over themselves to make sure that everything else was as perfect as possible for you that night. They didn't do that. They get an "F" in my book. I don't short tiip the waiter... He just works there, and his livelihood depends upon his tips in most places. I do tell the manager/owner.. and if it happens again, I don't go back.
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Old 10-11-2006, 10:25 AM   #6
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I agree that the waiter should not be short tipped for the kitchens mistake. My wife actually made a point of telling him that we know the onions and peppers were not his fault.

What was his fault though was not bringing the water. Not making sure I had a plate. Not offering to do something to correct the situation. And this last one I am unsure of so I am looking to all you pros here for advice, but I would think it would also be the waiters responsibility to look at the order to make sure it is right before bringing it to the table. Had he done that then the onions and peppers problem would have been spotted as well as the missing guacamole. For those reasons, that is why I gave him 15% instead of 20%.
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Old 10-11-2006, 10:29 AM   #7
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GB, I'd be upset as well. However, I don't think 15% is punishment. In small places like that, it's probably the average tip. To get his attention, it probably should have been less.
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Old 10-11-2006, 10:31 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GB
Here is the part that really gets me though. Two more times, both the hostess and waiter came by to ask how everything was. What did they think was going to change?
Sorry but that made me laugh out loud, literally!

I would have asked to speak to the manager. And I would not have left a cent for a tip. I am an excellent tipper but in that instance the server was not only inattentive, he was rude, then he was obsequious at check time. That's uncalled for. It's not about the food and the kitchen -- I never fault a server for that. But terrible service should be rewarded with same at tip time, IMO. Leaving a tip just encourages such behavior, IMO.
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Old 10-11-2006, 10:43 AM   #9
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Did they ever bring the water to your DW? That is inexcusable if you had to ask more than once.
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Old 10-11-2006, 10:56 AM   #10
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Sounds to me like you are being rude and inconsiderate as a customer. Hey, look, this poor guy has to carry food around, deal with customers and all and then gets stiffed by by a guy who wants water AND good food... sheesh- what a demanding guy.

Just kidding of course.... There are really two fundamental mistakes at work here (pun intended)... improper food should never get out of the kitchen. If they have new people- somone should have been watching.
Second- when the hostess learned of the problem she should have corrected it- no matter that you did not ask for it.

She could/should have offered a dessert, reduced the bill, or at least had the kitchen make you new veggies.

The server was just a dufus.... 15% was too much. If it was a corporate owned outfit, they deserve a letter or email. If it was a local- they deserve a call to the owner.

As long as we accept and tolerate poor performance, we might as well be considered enablers....

Stand up, fight back, we're mad as **** and were not going to take it anymore...

There.
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Old 10-11-2006, 11:00 AM   #11
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I too wouldn't of left him a tip at all. Considering the poor service and his inability to try and correct the problem. I too wouldn't hesitate to request a different waiter if you return and are told by the hostess he will be your waiter.
Luckily, I haven't had too many bad dining experiences though.
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Old 10-11-2006, 11:02 AM   #12
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I had a bad service experience on Sunday when I went out for lunch with my friend for her birthday. There were five of us and we went to a Mediterranean restaurant that always looks busy in St Christopher's Place in London. It was a late lunch so quietening down at about 3.30pm. We were seated outside and the first problem was the drink I ordered didn't arrive with the others, 25mins later I asked where it was and the waiter said they couldn't make the smoothie I wanted and so I ordered a cola instead. That's fine but he could have let me know about the problem first.

The starters took 40 mins to arrive and were cold and not very tasty whilst we had to wait another 45 minutes to receive our main courses. This was after one of us went inside to find the manager to complain. By this point three tables that had arrived after us had already eaten and left and there were five tables around us outside which had the dirty plates and glasses etc on them still. There were no waiters outside at all most of the time.

After complaining to the manager, he quickly came outside and cleared our table of the starter plates (had been there for 30minutes!) and some of the plates from surrounding tables. He apologised and the food came out 10 minutes later. I believe they lost our order! The food wasn't even that great. Two girls had ordered salad and the majority of it was just chopped red onions and cucumber and they charged £12 ($24) a plate. I had stuffed aubergine which was not so bad but probably the best meal of all ours.

The manager offered us complimentary wine and we said we would not be happy to pay the 12.5% service charge included in the bill later on and he understood and after we finished our meal he then offered us further complimentary coffee, teas and desserts.

I don't usually complain in restaurants because I think in England we have lower expectations of service and we put up with bad service a lot of the time but both the waiting staff and the kitchen were bad on this occasion and complaining to the manager really did help make the meal better, especially for my friend.

Tips are usually included here in a service charge of 12.5% and then you can leave extra if you wish so it's not the same as in the US. Waiting staff generally get paid more per hour here to begin with.
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Old 10-11-2006, 11:42 AM   #13
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Thanks for your input everyone. Looking back on it now, after reading your posts, I am a little upset that I left him 15%. Next time this happens I will not be so kind.
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Old 10-11-2006, 11:50 AM   #14
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Quote:
As long as we accept and tolerate poor performance, we might as well be considered enablers....
You are SO right, Hopz.
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Old 10-11-2006, 12:01 PM   #15
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Sorry GB... that kind of thing just ruins a night out.
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Old 10-11-2006, 12:07 PM   #16
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Luckily we did not let it ruin our time. My meal was still pretty good (the steak was cooked perfectly) and the company was top notch (wife and daughter) so we just laughed about it after the fact
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Old 10-11-2006, 12:41 PM   #17
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I'm glad to hear that. Happy is good.
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Old 10-11-2006, 01:10 PM   #18
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Things screw up at restaurants.

The measure of a well run place is how they handle it.

Sounds like this was poorly taken care of and it is management that is to blame.
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Old 10-11-2006, 01:10 PM   #19
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i agree gb, 15% is a tip for satisfactory service, way too much in this case. if i were the waiter, i'd have thought you were ok with everyhting..
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Old 10-11-2006, 01:25 PM   #20
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As said before, sometimes everything can go wrong in a kitchen. Sometimes when the head chef makes a new soup or dessert that doesn't turn out right, he just shakes his head and says "It is what it is" It's not that the food is bad, its just that it doesn't meet his standards, though we will usually manage to sell all of his soups and desserts fairly quickly, no matter how bad he thinks they are; the customers still think its great food.

Also said before, there is no excuse for the front of the house to drop the ball because the kitchen messed up. Most folks realize that bad food is not the fault of the waiter, and will tip accordingly. The guy you dealt with was probably just one of the disgruntled waiters who was feeling resentful about his job for one reason or another. Maybe he had just gotten stiffed by another table. That's no excuse for his poor service, just saying that anyone who has worked in the front of the house has probably come across some waitstaff with poor attitudes toward their work and their customers. They expect the 20% tip, and feel the customers are obligated to pay it, because they took your order and handed it to the kitchen. I would have left a much lower tip for that waiter, if any, and if he ever waited on me again I would requet to speak with the manager and request a different server.
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