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Waiter Performs Nose Plant - Manager Saves the Night

jfood Feb 11, 2007 10:04 AM

At a new resto that has received rave reviews, the Jfoods encountered possibly the worst service possible. The manager, was finally engaged, and she turned what was becoming a disaster into a memorable evening.

The resto is known for its food (Apps in the $13-22 range, entrees $25-40, so it’s a high end establishment.) plus an extensive wine collection. The jfoods do not drink so the latter was not as important to us but we were there for the food.

- Resto has about 15-20 tables, two standup/situp 4-tops and a bar area that seats 6-8. So it’s pretty small. It only has two 2-tops and they were already occupied when we arrived. The host sat the two of us at a 4-top. Our reso was for 7:00, we arrived and were seated promptly.
- Waiter arrived to take our drink orders. DW ordered a diet coke and a sparkling water for me. We turned down the wine list. Body language of waiter not great but no biggie. Runner arrives with a Boylans Diet Cola and a large bottle of Pellegrino and pours water for both of us. Minor mistakes in not asking if I would like a large bottle of Pellegrino and not telling DW that they did not have Coke, but Boylan. Just common sense and courtesy at this point.
- Ordered apps and entrees at around 7:15. Apps were one salad (w blue cheese supplement) , one ½-order pasta. Arrived I would guess at 7:30. Outstanding on both fronts.
- Five minutes into our apps, the runner brings our entrees, that’s right, i still have more than half of my app uneaten. As he is placing them on the table I tell him, “No, we do not want them yet.” He scurries to the waiter, and the runner disappears into kitchen. Waiter comes over and I ask him if that was our food. He glares at me and says “No” and I ask him if he is trying to rush out. He again says “No” and walks away.
- The plates for the apps are removed at 7:41, I looked at my watch to confirm.
- At 7:46 (confirmed on the watch) our entrees arrived. I tasted my duck and it was cold and my wife’s chicken was too hot and now overcooked. I looked at my wife and ask her what she wanted to do and she tells me she cannot eat the chicken as delivered. I called the waiter over and tell him that they merely returned the food that was prepared too early and that was unacceptable. He took it away.
- The manager came to our table and I explained the situation. He apologized and left. He returned a couple of minutes later and told me that the waiter “fired” the entrée too soon and apologized again. Mistakes happened.
- To my surprise, the entrees were delivered 2 minutes later and my plate was piping hot and the duck was the same that I returned (the piece I tasted was missing) and so the taste on DW’s chicken. This was the third time the same food was delivered to us. I look at DW and we agreed that we were done for the evening. I walked over to the manager and explained what occurred and asked for a check for the apps. She followed me to the table and told us they did not microwave the food. I told her I never said that but the same food was delivered (1) too early (at the mistake of the waiter), chicken was placed back in oven to keep warm and further cook until inedible) duck left out on the counter, (2) then the same food was brought out cold and overdone, respectively, It was returned again to the kitchen and (3) brought out a third time. I again asked for the check for the apps and we would leave.
- She insisted we stay. I told her only if the waiter was changed. She told us she would personally take care of the table. She told us it would take some time to make our entrees. We told her no problem.
- She brought over a nice little cheese platter to fill the time. Offered a glass of wine (too bad we do not drink would have been nice). Dinner was brought out, newly prepared, and we had a wonderful dinner. And the food was unbelievable.

So to the CH’ers.

1 – What should be done with the bill, if anything?
2 – If a bill is given, what should it be?
3 – What should the tip be for a fired waiter and a manager who takes over the duties of the fired waiter?

Here is how it was handled. Manager wanted to comp the whole meal. I insisted on paying and that the waiter should not cause the resto to suffer. After a little haggling, she agreed and brought over a bill for the entrees only and comped the apps, dessert (we had a great molten chocolate cake), and the beverages.

We went to the resto expecting a 10, started there, went to zero and then back to 10 and stayed there. Great work by a manager.

  1. hotoynoodle Feb 11, 2007 10:53 AM

    great work by the manager -- a true pro. comping items is always a case-by-case decision, and not having been there and interacted with you, i likely would have comped the entrees, since they were the source of the food issues.

    are you certain the waiter was terminated? his overly-anxious firing of the entrees was a bad call, but could have been due to many things. if this was a busy weekend night, he might have learned the hard way to fire early. the kitchen team is new and still finding their feet. he may have had tables wait 60 minutes some other nights with a *late* fire. the runner never should have approached the table if you were still on apps. but it's the fault of the kitchen that the same exact dishes were brought out 3 separate times. no self-respecting chef should do that. the plates might hold for a few minutes, but after that, throw them away and start over.

    lastly, i would have tipped my normal amount. even if the server was no longer involved, support staff still gets a cut. a note of appreciation to the manager would be a nice gesture.

    2 Replies
    1. re: hotoynoodle
      jfood Feb 12, 2007 05:32 AM

      hotoynoodle,

      two points:

      1 - why would you "have tipped my normal amount"? In that case bad waiter gets his cut of the tip, versus giving cash to the manager on the way out and asking her to give to the servers other than the waiter.
      2 - When i said "fired" I meant from our table.

      1. re: jfood
        hotoynoodle Feb 12, 2007 07:12 AM

        in my state, and i do believe most, it's illegal for managers to get involved in tips, whether accepting, determining or distributing. i'd prefer to not involve her, and let the chips fall.

        i'm sure she handled him properly post-service.

    2. TonyO Feb 11, 2007 11:03 AM

      This type of service is becoming all to expected at almost all levels of restaurants. Thankfully, there are some owner/managers/servers that take their positions seriously and are passionate about taking care of their guests. Good for you in giving them a chance to prove they could get it right. All too often people storm out and when their night could have been remedied.

      1. l
        Leonardo Feb 11, 2007 11:30 AM

        You did the right thing by staying and giving them a chance to do it right.
        Full tip was indicated for the reasons above. Everyone else did their job right, and the only one who didn't received not a cent.
        I doubt the waiter was "fired" over this.
        Fair to be expected to pay for entree, the rest being comped is proper.
        I'm mystified as to why you won't tell us the place. Good and bad, that's the point of this site.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Leonardo
          p
          Pan Feb 15, 2007 12:57 AM

          The runner didn't do his job right, did he?

          1. re: Pan
            jfood Feb 15, 2007 06:23 AM

            Horse's mouth speaking, the manager was the only one that did her job correctly:

            - waiter screwed up in sooooo many ways
            - runner should never have placed the food on the table
            - kitchen should never have "held" the meal for round 2
            - kitchen, OMG, should never have sent out for round 3

        2. jfood Feb 11, 2007 11:51 AM

          Waiter was NOT fired, nor did i ask for this. Just wanted him not to wait our table. sorry for the confusion.

          1. orangewasabi Feb 11, 2007 12:04 PM

            this is a combination of a good manager and a reasonable customer. You 1/ gave them the chance to fix things by telling the manager why you were leaving in a calm and rationale way and 2/ were willing to accomodate the delay the fix took to be repaired. The manager perservered to keep you there when it would have been easier to let you walk out the door and made sure you were completely satisfied right to the very end by offering to comp the bill. Well done all around!

            1. chowser Feb 11, 2007 01:37 PM

              I would write to the restaurant and tell them how lucky they are to have this manager.:-)

              1. r
                rakh Feb 12, 2007 05:51 AM

                Yes, kudos for the manager are in order. Although, who is training the wait staff?

                1 Reply
                1. re: rakh
                  jfood Feb 12, 2007 05:57 AM

                  Interesting that the manager told me on the way out that he was one of their better waiters.

                  I think his attitude when in the gutter when he saw we were a 2-top, there were walk-ins waiting (and he was chatting away with one of them) and we did not order wine. He immediately said to himself, i'm getting this couple out of here ASAP and getting two turns (and tips) on this table in the 2-hour reso period. He guessed wrong, he got neither..

                2. Den Feb 13, 2007 12:43 PM

                  You are very brave for still eating the food after sending it back 3 times.

                  1. momof3 Feb 15, 2007 06:36 AM

                    I agree with prior posters that you and DW were very cool customers. The bill should have been complete, as you did eventually enjoy the entrees. It would have been ideal if the managment comp'd your cheese plate (obviously) and perhaps desserts and coffee in lieu of the wine.
                    As for the tip...I might have just tipped the manager and asked him/her to pass it along to the runner and the bus person. The runner did do their job, their job is to bring the food to the table promptly after the kitchen fires it. This was done, by the sole fault of the waiter wayy too soon.
                    It does sound like this server made a bad judgement call apon seeing your deuce with no drinks ordered. Bad idea, you never know who you are waiting on and cannot and should not make a call based on the number of guests. Even if you and your guest were ordering water and apps, you should receive the same service as a deuce ordering full drinks thru desserts.
                    Just my opinion.
                    BTW, Jfood, I think you would enjoy reading Danny Meyer's book "Setting the Table"
                    A bible for service in the rest. biz.
                    :)
                    MO3

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