“Big City” Dining

turtle

It was my buddy’s 30th birthday last weekend, and his fiance organized a surprise party Peppershit’s Restaurant.   There were about 15 of us, and a table had been reserved in the back room, two weeks in advance.

I was looking forward to this.  Peppershit’s was in the “Big City” ( a town of about 20,000).   At $25-30 per entree, the food was a few steps above the typical Chicken Fingers/Club Sammitch menus I was normally used to.

And for those prices, I figured surely we’d be getting pretty decent service.   (SURELY it would be better than what I’ve had to put up with here in Splat Creek…)

…WRONG!!!!

It took 30 minutes for Stumbledorf the Waiter to take our order.   After 90 minutes we were still waiting for the main course.   Stumbledorf finally explained that the reason the food is taking so long, was that there was another large table ahead of us.  He had taken their food orders first.

Yeah, we know, we said.   They’re sitting right next to us.  They arrived AFTER we did!

Stumbledorf didn’t seem to be concerned.  He shrugged.  Oh well…

Can we at least have some more BREAD?  we asked.

Uh….you’ll have to wait, we’re out of bread, he informed us.

Un.  Freaking.  Believable.

As my Dad would have said:  “Never in my life…never in my WHOLE LIFE…have I ever seen a restaurant RUN OUT OF @#%$ BREAD!!”.

(…ONLY  in Small-Town Ontario!)

I think they actually went to Saskatchewan to thresh the wheat with which to make the flour.   Because it took another 20-30 minutes for the extra bread to arrive.

Two measly baskets, for 15 people .  And like a pack of wolves, we devoured them within minutes.   While we watched the other table get their main courses.

Time ground to a halt.  Our bellies started to bloat.

Some of us started to lose teeth (I think scurvy had set in).

I was half-tempted to go to Tim Horton’s across the street and bring back some donuts.   Meanwhile, the other table started to get their dessert.

Finally, the @#(%#* food arrived….TWO FREAKING HOURS after we had sat down.

I wanted to shovel the chow into my face as fast as I could, at that point, but seeing how this meal was going to be p-a-i-n-f-u-l-l-y s-l-o-w,  I made each and every morsel lasted as long as possible.

But some of the ladies hardly touched their plate.  I asked why..they said they had gotten past the point of being hungry,  that they didn’t  even want to eat anymore.

At least it took another hour for dessert to arrive, though.

At this point, the manager should have shown up.  Or the waiter could have tried to make things right (offering a discount, or a free dessert).  But no such luck.  Stumbledorf was nowhere to be seen.

In (typical of Small-Town Ontario) some people started APOLOGIZING for the bad service (“It’s not really the waiters’ fault…they just have too many people…“)

By now, the other table had not only finished eating.   Not only that, but they had paid their bill, and the staff had cleared their table, down to the bare wood.  The room was half empty.

Except for us.   We were stuck here on the Wreck of the Hesperus, eating the Meal of the Damned.

Though look on the bright side:  it only took another 30 minutes to get the bill.

People started to take their wallets out to pay, but Stumbledorf had already left the room again.

One of the women almost started weeping. (“I just want to LEEEEEEAVE!”)

To speed things up, we all ended up storming the front desk, to pay the bill ourselves.

The same woman blatantly told Stumbledorf:

“I’m not coming back…the service was awful”.

And (why am I not surprised?) the 22-year old was incredulous:

“You didn’t think my service was good?”.

“Well, NO..”, she said.   “It’s 9:30…the dinner took FOUR HOURS…!”

Stumbledorf took their credit card, and mumbled a half-assed apology.  If I didn’t’ know any better, he was actually pissed off at her, and couldn’t believe his ears.   He had NO IDEA why the customers were complaining.

On my bill, I had noticed they had forgotten to charge me $4.50 for a beer.   (Well, you know what?  Screw ’em!).

That was my small victory for the night.

On the way home, I stopped at McD’s Drive-Thru for a Quarter-Pounder  (which thankfully I got within  60 seconds).

At least you can depend on McD’s.

Not to mention, this extra protein helped rebuild my hunger-ravaged body, and gave me enough strength for the 45-minute drive home.

On the way, I listened to the local radio station.

And (I can’t make this up, folks), they played a public service ad, encouraging us to get out there and shop, and support the local businesses.

You have GOT to be shitting me.

Sigh.

Thus Endeth the Big City Fine Dining Experience.

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14 Comments on ““Big City” Dining”

  1. Mike Goad Says:

    Well, that certainly makes me feel better about what we thought was poor service. I certainly would not consider going to a place like that again and you can be sure that I would be telling everyone that I know about the poor service.

    Good lord!

  2. veredd Says:

    Out of BREAD??

    I’ll second your Un. Freaking. Believable.

  3. Friar Says:

    @Mike
    Glad to hear that you agree. I was beginning to think I was out of line for complaining about this.

    It seems half the people in my group weren’t that concerned…like I said, some were almost apologizing for the shitty service!

    I’m half-tempted to mail the manager of the restaurant this blog post!

    @vered
    Yeah…just when I think this place can’t surprise me anymore…it DOES.

    Out of Bread. What a joke! Who ever heard of that?

    (I’m pretty sure the table beside us had plenty, though!) 😦

  4. Kelly Says:

    Friar,

    If I had a dime for every time a restaurant told me they’re out of something they could have run to a grocery store and faked having in stock…

    Living in a megalopolis most of my adult life, I probably go to more restaurants than you, so that part isn’t too unbelieveable.

    BUT I also know that when I was in the back of the house, we’d rather serve Tim Horton’s than admit we were out of something. Somebody puts on their running shoes and zooms to the store. Period. Even when I worked at Wendy’s we did that, nevermind at real restaurants. *Inexcusable.*

    And I know it was a buddy’s party so nobody wanted to wreck it, but honestly, I was reading and hoping one of you would be bold enough to say stuff this, let’s go. A FOUR HOUR meal? They needed to be taught a large and embarrassing lesson by a large party walking right out. No waiting two hours for food. Nuh-uh.

    Glad you got your beer for free. If I were you I’d edit and put the real name of the place up there, too. It ain’t defamation if it’s true. You’d be surprised how many people want an honest review of local places and look to the ‘net these days. Why should you cover for them?

    My heart was racing, reading this. My goodness did I get angry for you all.

    Good ol’ McD’s, savior of small-town diners. 🙂

    Regards,

    Kelly

  5. Friar Says:

    @Kelly

    And the sad thing about it..this wasnt’ just a truck-stop diner, but it was supposedly a Frou-Frou fancy restaurant!

    They ought to have known better. But mabye not…because it’s just another typical small-town business.

    I guess it’s like Obama said, you can put lipstick on a pig, it’s still a pig. 🙂

  6. Betsy Says:

    I agree with Kelly. Kick butt and name names. At the very least, print this out, send it to the manager and say, “this is about your place of business. We’ll be spreading the word.” The fact that your server was surprised that you’d complain about shitty service says it all.

  7. Friar's Mom Says:

    Dearest Friar,

    Often underpaid staff doesn’t care. Birthday or not. Embarrassed or not. Someone should have demanded to talk to the Manager. and demanded action. The first argument would be that a reservation was made, and bread should have been available. If the owner was worth his salt, he would have brought out some chips, offered free coffee, or waived the tax. There was no excuse.

    I know it’s embarrassing to complain in front of friends. Maybe the establishment delayed the meal because it wanted to make some bucks on beverages. You guys were entitled to get action and answers

    I could kick my self for not raising a ruckus at a similar situation, when you and I dined late at Splatt Creek, a few weeks ago. There was only one other table of customers and they were drinking. Sevice was so poor from presentatin of menu, taking the order, serving the order, and no other visit from the waitress. After close to two hours, we were ready to leave and there was not staff around. I suggested we get dressed and walk towards the front of the restaurant. Before we reached the door, the waitress dressed in a ski jacket, came in through the back door of the restaurant accompanied by two young men. No apologies, she just asked if we wanted our bill. She quickly wrote it up and presented it to us.

    That has to be the worst service ever. I paid the bill with exact change. I should have spoken to the waitress and the owner about the service and his lack of staff. It was late, we were tired, I was a wuuus.

  8. Friar Says:

    @Betsy
    I think you have a good point. At the very least, I should contact the manager.

    Though, that way small towns work…you’re almost discouraged from doing so. Brett told me a story of some friends of theirs, a woman who wrote a letter to the manager about crummy restaurant service. The next day, people around the town were SCOLDING her for complaining!

    @Mom

    That was another meal from Hell. I was going to blog about it, but then this even worse meal came up.

    If I recall correctly, you DID leave a tip. Exactly $0.01 🙂

  9. Friar's Mom Says:

    Dearest Friar,

    Hard to belive that your meal was worse that the one I described.

    I had no intention of leaving at tip. It just worked out that way with the change I had.

    No embarassement, or regrets about that lack of tip. We tip for service, and service was non-existent. The waitress had other priorities that evening–entertaining her male harem at the bar, and outside.

    If I had spoken to the manager, perhaps she wouldn’t find other employment in Splatt Creek, and that might scar her for life.

  10. davinahaisell Says:

    Hi Friar. Once again, you’ve had me in stitches! When you think about it, by them missing that charge on your bill, they paid for your burger. I bet it was one of the best burgers you’ve tasted… or is that your next post? 🙂

  11. A. Friend Says:

    @ Friar

    I love your slow turtle illustration. Very clever.

    A snail would be slower. But by the time it collected cobwebs it would become a dehydrated non-snail.

  12. Kelly Says:

    Friar,

    YES, like Betsy says, send the post to the manager. You don’t have to tell him/her who you are if you think there will be tsk-tsk behind your back. Just print it out from Word, and stick a stamp on it with the manager’s name. You’ll feel better even if nothing for you personally comes of it.

    The last time I had similarly slow service, I looked at the kid and said “5 minutes. She shows up or we walk.” She didn’t, we did, and I told every single soul who worked there (in discreet Kelly-tones, don’t worry) on my way out.

    The drinks (which were all we’d gotten) were comped, which I didn’t care about because I was starving and livid by then, and we got a huge gift certificate handed to us by the manager on our way out. The kid thought we made out like bandits until I pointed out that we still had to get dinner. 😦

    The huge g.c. sat for over six months before I could stand the thought of going again. When it’s that bad even “free” doesn’t wipe out the bitter taste. Real change is pretty rare, but you have to speak up in some way for there to be a chance of it. So send this post. It couldn’t hurt!

    Until later,

    Kelly

  13. Friar Says:

    @davina

    You’re right….it was one of the better McD burgers I had in recent memory.

    @Friend
    You’re also right. A turtle is a relatively advanced life-form. compared to a gastropod. I should have shown a snail.

    @Kelly
    Okay, now you got me STOKED! I’m going to phone the restaurant tomorrow and ask for the name of the manager/owner.

    Like you said, “free” won’t wipe out the bitter taste. If they offered me a free meal at this point, I don’t even know if I’d want to go…Just gimme my money back, or something.

    You know…I COULD write a letter to the editor in the local paper…I’m sure it would get printed…only I’d be putting myself under the microscope again (and the townies would follow me with pitchforks and burning torches!)

    I haven’t published a letter in 6 months…but I’m still being asked about when I’m going to do another one! 🙂

  14. t.sterling Says:

    Out of tragedy comes another great story. Again, I’m sorry for your loss of time that could’ve been well spent. Do you ever have good dining experiences? Or do these places have your picture in the back alerting the staff to treat you as horribly as possible? Like a vendetta? Sorry… I just watched a movie about vengence.

    Anyway, I had similar experiences and I’m one that also doesn’t like to complain even if I really should. But the last insult to quality service made me get a certain pizza delivery man fired.


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