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Dec 30, 2006 12:04 PM

Stone Park: I've had it with the attitude

Have enjoyed eating at Stone Park perhaps a dozen times since they opened, but have been party to the previously-described attitude of the co-owners there on more than one occasion. Last evening, had some visitors from out-of-town and decided to walk down Fifth Ave. without reservations. Peered into window of Stone Park, seeing several open tables. Asked hostess if we could be seated without reservations, co-owner, seated four feet away, didn't even give her a chance to reply, turned around and said "we're fully booked." I pointed out open tables, perhaps as a prelude to acknowledging we might need to give up table earlier than we might otherwise like. He did his non-verbal thing and she said we might like to come back after 9 PM.
This issue has been mentioned here by others on more than one occasion. I'll simply vote with my feet and take my business elsewhere in the future.

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  1. While I am no big fan of Stone Park Cafe, and the owners may very well have attitude, I can't say I understand your gripe. Why is it a news flash that restaurants take reservations and that perhaps those table might be awaiting their occupants? I've never understood when a fellow diner is told that a restaurant is booked and then they ask "what about THAT table?" as if the proprietor is somehow unaware that they have empty tables in their restaurant. Just make reservations next time.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ilikepeas

      I'm sorry, but just because a restaurant is full with reservations, does not mean that the owner should be rude. As I recall Famdoc was one of the biggest proponents of this restaurant when it first opened. I agree with him that the owner's attitude should be to be as friendly as possible, weather or not there is a free table. Also in response, some restaurants do hold an open table to increase flexibily, so sometimes the empty table is indeed,availible. But really its the attitude of the host and managers that manner most. When I'm told that the place is full in a friendly manner, im more than happy to accept it, but when someone says something to me with that kind of attitude, I find that rude and offensive. This is a neighboorhood restaurant, and they should treat their neighbors in a friendly manner, and I too have heard complaints about the owner's attitude from friends eating there who don't post to chowhound.Frankly I am so sick and tired of people making excuses for restaurants acting like its the customer's privelidge to eat at their establishment. It is the other way around, it is the restaurant's priveledge to serve their customers.(and hope they come back again), especially a local place that makes all their money on neighborhood business.
      There are so many friendly, good places to eat in this city, that I am frankly unwilling to give a place another chance when I have been treated in a shoddy manner, unless the place has demonstrated for years that one bad night is an exception.

    2. I've had mixed experiences at Stone Park also (I LOVE their burger, so I occasionally put up with it, but only at brunch!)

      Having just finished Danny Meyer's new book, Setting the Table, I re-committed myself to only going to places that value my business. I understand how reservation booking systems work, but no matter what the facts are nothing excuses bad behavior.

      I agree with the "let your feet make your statement" philosophy. There are simply too many fine restaurants in PS to put up with rudeness.

      1. If the owners had opened this restaurant 15 years ago, when the only other high end dining option on 5th Ave. was Cucina, they might have gotten away with this. But with Al di la, Convivium, Tempo, and Applewood all walking distance, and a dozen other quality restaurants close as well, there is just no reason to put up with it. I had another good meal at the Farm last night, and although the food was a little late getting to the table, it only meant a 2nd bottle of wine for my group. Everytime I eat their, the host/hostess and waitstaff are so accomodating and friendly, that it makes for an experience akin to going to a 'neighborhood' joint. Maybe Stone Park has aspirations of joining Saul in 'Michelin-land', but the food is not that original or amazing to overcome the rudeness/high prices...

        1. I agree with most of you, especially Jason. These "trendy" places with their upscale owners are riding high on past earned reputations for the food and the location, but those of us who won't put up with rude, or condescending behavior, will simply look for establishments that appreciate our patronage.
          I never frequent restaurants whose owners/staff, act as though they are doing me a favor by serving me. As Jason mentioned above, if there are no tables available, there are many friendly ways to convey that information without being rude.
          We've all seen it over and over. Once enough people have
          experienced poor treatment, the establishment begins to suffer.
          In a year, either the place changes hands, or closes.
          One of the reasons unassuming family run places remain in business is because people feel welcome there. Just one more reason to visit Staten Island, where many restaurant owners still treat patrons like extended family

          2 Replies
          1. re: Tay

            A good example is Tom's.(on Washington) That place is constantly busy because of the friendly service. Now the food is certainly not that good there (in my opinion, I know others love the food), but it will always be packed because they truly care about making people happy, relaxed and feel appreciated.

            1. re: jason carey

              I'm sure I'll get beaten up by most Chow Hounds for saying this but I'm past the point of accepting unacceptable attitude
              just because, "The food is great" I mean, this is NYC!. It's not as though we live in Paducah and have limited choices.
              (Now I'll probably get hate mail from Paducah :-})
              Despite the Chow Hound mantra that it's 'all about the food,'
              it's really all about the total dining experience. I have had many meals rendered unenjoyable due to miserable service and poor management attitudes. I have never eaten at Tom's, but it's probably like many local, neighborhood places in all the
              "Outer boroughs." I think the problem with some of the places in PS and B'klyn Hts is that they believe their own press
              and think that their popularity will see them through any sort of poor behavior.
              I just wouldn't bet the ranch on that line of thinking for too long.

          2. After reading ilikepeas' reply, I thought "uh-oh, I'm gonna get flamed on this one,"
            but, on a personal level, I appreciate the support for my sentiments others have posted.
            On an economic level, I am glad others agree that there are just too many fine restaurants in PS to waste one's money on fine food/poor attitude. I should have added to my original post that after being turned away from Stone Park, we went diagonally across the street to Cocotte, where we had a perfectly fine meal and a warm welcome from the host and waitstaff.
            Cocotte hasn't been a particular all-star on Chowhound Outer Boroughs, but I got to tell you that I've never been disappointed there. In addition, the wine list is well-constructed and very fairly priced (I recommend, in particular, the Gigondas, which, at $38, is money extremely well spent. In fact, as I think about it, the only thing I'll really miss about Stone Park is the Priorat "Les Terrasses" on their wine list). Happy New Year and Bon Appetite to all CH'ers.

            3 Replies
            1. re: famdoc

              Isnt there always a balance of food vs. service, ambiance and other factors? If food is uniquely wonderful or interesting we likely can live with a less charming ambiance or host. If there are cultural or language differences expectations change too. But if a place aims squarely at my dining dollar (and not small $ either) I think I'm entitled to a cordial welcome and a pleasant dining experience along with the food. Iwas never willing to suck this up - though strangely, there are people in NY who are attracted to an exclusive, clubby atmosphere (the old Elaine's syndrome) For us its easy - if we dont feel welcomed, we dont go back.

              1. re: famdoc

                Just a quick note to say I agree about Cocotte. It's much better than Belleville and Moutarde for example (although the latter's not saying much), and I'm sort of surprised that it doesn't get mentioned here more often.

                1. re: parkslopemama

                  Belleville used to be quite good, I don't know what the heck happened there.. the food literally went down the toilet. I will check out Cocotte.