Friday, April 14, 2017

Squid Eats: Poor Service

via Toronto Sun
I have a lot of sympathy for those who work in the food service industry.  While I never have done so myself, I have done other customer service work and I know how difficult it can be.  I'd like to believe we are generally easy-going restaurant patrons, too.  We are polite.  We don't make fussy orders.  We almost never send anything back unless there's something obviously wrong.  We tip generously.  For the most part, our kindness earns the like in return.  That's the way the world's supposed to work, right?

Every once in a while, though, you hit a restaurant on an off night.  I've chosen to believe that's what happened to us recently.  I've chosen to believe that a near-universally highly regarded establishment in our northwest corner of Vermont was having an off night when we made our first visit.  As such, I am also choosing not to name said establishment in my post.  They also did right by us at the end of the evening which certainly helped me in feeling forgiving.

There were warning signs early.  The hostess - also the co-owner, we later learned - seated us rather hurriedly.  Then it took a while for our waitress to even come by for a drink order, long enough for my wife to ask if we had a Plan B for dinner.  She got my beer order wrong.  She forgot to tell us the specials, causing some confusion when she finally took our food order.  Little things in themselves, but a pattern was set for the evening.  On the rare occasion when we'd see our waitress, she seemed preoccupied.  Tables near us, serviced by other waitresses, were turning over a lot more quickly.  The food itself wasn't bad and we thought about dessert but as my wife said, "I don't want to give them any more of our money."

Eventually we had to practically tackle another waitress just to get our check and she picked up on our unhappiness.  The hostess came over to make amends and we learned what had happened.  A cook had gotten ill and gone home.  Our waitress, the only member of the waitstaff qualified to help out in the kitchen, was pulling double duty.

It was, to a point, an understandable situation.  Even high-end restaurants get a wrench in the works from time to time.  But especially for the amount of money one puts down for such a meal, the staff should be better able to weather such a storm.  Knowing they were one down, tables could have been reassigned and tips shared.  The hostess herself should have made doubly-, triply-sure we were covered.  It didn't happen.

Once she realized our dissatisfaction, the hostess moved quickly to make it right.  She comped our meal and even gave us a $25 gift card to encourage our return.  It wasn't enough to save the evening but it was perhaps enough to keep us from writing the place off forever.


  1. We don't often go out for pizza anymore, not since we started doing a homemade pizza night once a week (which is better than any pizza we can buy), but there's a pizza place near us (my son's favorite for pizza out) that always takes at least twice as long as they say it will take to get the pizzas to me. The last, I don't know, half a dozen times I've been there (over a time period of a couple or few years) they've given me certificates for free pizzas to make for the long wait. On a couple of those, I got free certificates from using the free certificates! My son likes the arrangement.

  2. At least you got to know the reason why and it wasn't an instant dislike of your and your wife!

  3. Tucson is a foodie town. Who Knew !
    We have our favorites and are treated well but even at new places we have be very lucky.
    Did you ever go back ?

    cheers, parsnip

    1. Not yet. It's not exactly on the way to anywhere so it pretty much requires its own trip for us. Maybe someday.