Tuesday, January 04, 2005
Letter to the owner of a ~ Seafood Restaurant
On Thursday, December 30, 2004, on the recommendation of several trusted family members, I visited your establishment for the first time. My mother and a cousin were my dining companions. Living in the area, they’d been to ~ numerous times previously, and regaled your establishment’s finer qualities. We arrived at 1:20 in the afternoon, because they wanted to be certain that the noon rush would be over, so we would not have a long wait. My mother was very pleased to see that no more than 5 other tables were being served. She thought our meal would be delivered quickly. She was mistaken.
We were not served until 2:15pm, and we got much more than we expected with our meal; sadly, this was not a good thing. I suspect that we surprised our waitress when we were ready to place our order as soon as she arrived. We’d had time to review the menu while waiting for the hostess to prepare a table for us, even though there seemed to be adequate seating available elsewhere. I ordered a Garden Salad with Grilled Chicken when I was informed that your restaurant was out of fried chicken; my mother and cousin each ordered combination platters (one with scallops & oysters and the other with scallops and shrimp). My mother ordered coleslaw and French fries, while my cousin ordered apple sauce and a side salad.
Iced tea and coke were mistakenly given to the wrong people, and the tea was not to her liking, so my mother decided to ask for coffee. We waited more than 15 minutes before we saw the waitress, and had a difficult time getting her attention. When my mother told her that she could remove the tea, she asked if the tea was too sweet or not sweet enough. She seemed offended when my mother told her, “I just don’t care for it,” and demanded a reason. She hurried away when my mother told her that it did not taste fresh.
Another 20 minutes passed and the only time we saw the waitress again was when she brought food out to a table of two that had arrived long after we had placed our order. She never came to check to see if our drinks needed to be refilled or if we desired anything while waiting for our food to arrive. After a time of not being able to contact the waitress herself, I approached the hostess with a request to check on the status of our order. She verified which table we’d been assigned, and within five minutes, the waitress came to inform us that our food was indeed being prepared and that the chicken for my Garden Salad was slow to cook and thus the reason for the delay. My cousin asked if the salads could be served, as everyone was hungry. She received her salad, but nothing was delivered to my mother or me – no crackers, no bread, not even an inquiry if we desired anything.
When the food finally arrived, the waitress dropped the plates before us with a loud plunk, and I said, “All this fuss over such a little bit of chicken?”
To say that I was disappointed in the quantity and quality would be a gross understatement. There appeared to be only one small chicken strip that had been torn into shreds and flakes, then scattered across my lettuce and two small slices of tomato. This was hardly an entrée salad. My mother presumed that the restaurant was under new management, as she said her scallops were much smaller than usual, and her oysters were tough. My cousin said little, but she was clearly unhappy that the applesauce she had ordered was replaced with coleslaw. We all marveled that the waitress would tell us that it took more than half an hour to cook the few pieces of chicken that were on my salad.
The waitress never returned to see if we needed anything more; she only stopped by to leave the check, and instead of writing separate checks as requested, left only one, very confusing bill for us to decipher. We asked the hostess/cashier to explain the charges, which she did. However, she rang up a different amount than what she had explained.
She told us that the first salad listed was 75 cents, but rang up the cost of an entrée salad. I told her that I could not possibly have received an entrée salad, because the few flakes of chicken scattered across it looked more like garnish than an entrée, but she insisted that I had ordered an entrée and must pay for an entrée. I told her that I would like to speak to either the person who cooked my chicken, to determine why it took half an hour to prepare, or a manager. My request was met with blank stares and empty apologies.
Then, the waitress rushed through the swinging door behind the register and growled at me, “Look! The cook said it took that long to cook your chicken and that’s why it took so long. Get over it! And by the way, the chicken was sliced not shredded!” The hostess told me that when she went to check on the progress of our order, she had seen where a piece of chicken had been burned, and she suspected that they had to re-cook my order. I said that I wished I had been informed of this earlier. I realize that mistakes happen, and I also realize that it does not take half an hour to grill a small slice of chicken breast.
I also know that most restaurants slice chicken tenderloins and leave them practically whole, on the salad, to indicate the size of the chicken, rather than shredding it and scattering it in a vain attempt to make it appear to be more than it is. I’ve never received an entrée salad with less then three thick slices of chicken. I told the hostess, “I just find it difficult to believe it took half an hour to burn one piece of chicken, and to then cook another and flake it across my salad. It seems a poor excuse to me.” The waitress shouted, “You had a chicken attitude since you came here!”
“Excuse me?” I could not believe my ears. Never in my life have I been offended by a waitress in such a way.
She yelled, “Ever since you walked in here today, you have had a flaky chicken attitude!” then she ran back through the swinging door. I told my mother that I would be waiting outside, because I refused to remain in your establishment after her insult. We’d already decided that her lack of attention warranted less than the customary 15%-20%, but when we could find no manager to help us help her be a better server; I adjusted that further, leaving her only 3 pennies, so that she would know we had not forgotten to leave a tip.
We even asked if she was a new server or if the restaurant was under new management, thinking that at least we’d have some excuse for the atrocious service. Bad service is one thing, but to have to pay for a less than adequate meal and to be insulted by the server on top of that is unthinkable!
I waited tables when I was younger, so I understand the stress involved in her job. I am not unreasonable, but I believe that someone should speak to the young woman about her behavior. She is in a service industry, and her job is to serve people, not insult paying customers. I have no idea what her name is, but I am sure that by now, you have heard of the incident, and you probably know who she is.
I saw two young women on Thursday, December 30th. One was the hostess, and the other was the young woman assigned to insult me. To call her a member of your wait staff would be slighting other waiters and waitresses. There was an older woman there, also, who told the hostess to charge for an entrée salad, and said nothing more. She also came to the door to watch us while we were getting in our car, but said nothing.
My first impression of your restaurant was the worst. I trust you will help the young woman understand that she cannot insult customers. It’s not a Best Business Practice.
~, the woman with the Flaky Chicken Attitude (whatever that means)