When Good Restaurants Go Bad: My Worst Restaurant Experience Ever!
I thoroughly enjoy dining out and 99 times 100, I walk out of a restaurant a happy customer. Well last night I went through one of my worst dining experiences in my life.
I met up with one of my friends at a local pizza and pasta joint that I've frequented at least twenty times in the last year. The food is mid-priced, and the service is usually quite good.
On Monday, I think I mistakenly stepped into the restaurant Twilight Zone. I met up with my friend at 8:00 in the evening and ordered my usual order of pasta and garlic sticks. My friend ordered the exact same item. Fifteen minutes later, one order of pasta arrives. I asked the waitress if the second order was on the way soon as it is tradition that when two people are dining together, both orders are brought out at the same time. The waitress gives me a blank stare.
I kindly informed the waitress that we each had ordered the pasta and bread sticks. The waitress indicated that she was unsure what went wrong. I understand mistakes can happen, people are human. I told my friend to go ahead and eat his his meal and I would wait for my meal to be prepared and cooked. I figured I could wait 15 more minutes.
It's important to keep in mind, the restaurant was not busy, after all, it was a Monday night and there were only two tables being served. My friend goes about eating his pasta, while I watch the clock. 10 minutes turns to 15, 15 turns to 20, then 25, then 30, then 35. At this point the food has not arrived and I have not seen the waitress in 35 minutes. So I walk to to the manager who is tending bar and ask him if he could locate our waitress. He looks around and shrugs. I asked him: " Would you be so kind as to locate our waitress, it has now been 40 minutes and my order that takes 15 minutes to prepare has not been delivered to our table?" The restaurant manager tells me he does not know where the waitress went.
Now keep in my friend has finished eating about ten minutes ago. One would assume that a concerned restaurant manager would go into the kitchen and check on my food order that seems to have been sucked into a culinary black hole or is burnt to a crisp at this point. What does he do? NOTHING!
In the meantime, the other patrons in the restaurant have long since left. Dishes and drink cups are stacked up in the booth next to mine and no one has bothered to collect them for over 30 minutes.(pictured below)
While the waitress was MIA, I had to go refill my soda (the fountain machine that the staff uses to refill drinks is easily accessible in a corner booth near the entrance) .Five minutes later the waitress magically reemerges from wonderland after I made a second visit to the manager on duty to tell him we are leaving. At 9:30 pm (an hour and a half later), my food order suddenly appears and the waitress tells me she would be happy to box up my order so I can eat it at home.
Last time I checked, when you go to a sit down restaurant the tradition is to sit down at the restaurant and eat your food there. If I wanted take out, I would have ordered take out. I told the waitress to tell the manager that I had no intention to pay for my order of pasta that never arrived.
The waitress apologized for the multitude of problems. I asked her what went wrong and she just shrugged her shoulders and did not offer an explanation other than saying she was sorry.
The biggest problem I have is that no apology or explanation was given by restaurant management. When that is the case you know the establishment is going down the tubes. I was informed that the owner of the restaurant was out of town on an unannounced fishing trip that staff members did not even know about. So, the ability for me to contact him will have to come later.
The only good thing is that i was told that there would be no charge for the meal. Being the nice guy I am, I still tipped the waitress with a 15% tip. I usually top 20%, and should have tipped zero for the awful service I received. Should I have done that? Would you?
So help me out here, if you were in my position, what would you say to the restaurant owner?
EATOCRACY wrote an interesting piece called 5 ways to complain effectively in a restaurant.
The point that gets my attention the most is:
If you still don't get satisfaction on the night then you need to take it further. You can of course e-mail the restaurant with your complaint but if you are going to do that then don't do it from your smartphone on the drive home. Best leave it a few hours and do it calmly. Spelling mistakes caused by anger or shonky driving will adversely affect your complaint, seriously. But nothing, and I mean nothing, works like a handwritten letter to the manager. It makes them tremble. If you really want to get your point across and instil fear and upset into the restaurant then handwrite them a letter. Woo-hoo, things get done on the back of a hand-written letter.
So what should I include in my letter?