unzipped

Seriously, is there any recourse or accountability for poor service?  Gratuities used to be viewed as a barometer of the service received and an extra thank you imparted to your server.  Now, if you leave a poor tip, the server just thinks that you are an asshole and uses anonymous websites to gripe about you.  Having grown up in restaurants and studied hospitality, I am aware that yes things happen that can affect your dining experience that are truly out of the hands of the server, and there are always ways to try to reconcile any service disasters.  Things have come a long way from “the customer is always right”, and there now seems to be  a lack of accountability when if comes to shitty service, a waiter with an attitude or inept management.

Recently I went to Cafeteria for brunch on a Sunday.  Cafeteria is always busy, always. High volume is nothing new to this place on any level, or any time of day.  And I know that I should not expect service perfection from a place that serves mac and cheese spring rolls, but come on.  Basically, we had a really terrible waitress.  She didn’t even approach our table (my companion was pregnant, FYI) for 15 minutes after we were seated.  We finally placed our order: Me- salad Friend- omelet, salad instead of potatoes (waitress informed us that it would be extra money to sub in the salad and add a piece of toast, fine). After that, we didn’t see her again for another half hour.  Nothing.  No food, no waitress, no explanation.  When we finally caught her eye, we asked her to please check on our food.  She said that they were really busy in the kitchen and that she would send the manager over.  Um, okay.  So the manager came over and explained to us that the kitchen is busy, and we need to wait, sorry.  CAFETERIA IS ALWAYS BUSY! They should expect that at this point! Trying to politely convey that we were less than thrilled with our waitress, we took the slightly abstract route of saying that we are “feeling a little ignored, our waitress hasn’t been around and the food is just taking a while.”

A few minutes later, no food in sight, our waitress comes over, pours us water, bends down, gets right in my face, eye to eye level with me and says, in a baby voice “ I am sorry, are you feeling ignored, is there anything I can get you?” It was an extremely aggressive move, uncomfortable and ineffective, because the answer to that is that she could have gotten us our fucking lunch.  My lunch companion was stunned and I was in shock.  The failure of the manager to effectively read or convey our concerns was unbelievable, and the actions of the waitress were unprofessional and just plain nasty.  When our food finally came, the order was completely wrong and we were told we would have to wait five more minutes for toast.  It was just a disaster.

But what to do when the check came? Another manager came over and told us that they were “just trying to feed everyone, girls.” Okay, we get that, but you barely fed us.  If we tipped poorly, we would seem nasty and un-understanding of how kitchen/restaurants work.  We do know, however, that there are right and wrong ways to “feed everyone” when you are busy, and right and wrong way to convey concerns to your staff and right and wrong ways to deal with a customer that feels over- looked.  Cafeteria failed on every level, and unfortunately, we were bullied into tipping way more than we should have.

On a side note, just to add to the rash of rudeness we have encountered: Recently at Landmarc, after waiting 30 minutes for burgers, we asked our waiter how our food was doing…and he replied “I am sure it is doing just great.” Really?!

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