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Oct 1, 2007 07:47 AM

worst birthday ever at Saul on Smith Street

I had the most unpleasant experience I can ever recall having– anywhere– at Saul in Brooklyn on Saturday night. After having made a reservation weeks ago for six people to celebrate my birthday, a seventh person was added to our party at the last minute. (A friend’s husband whose work suddenly freed him up.) And rather than squeeze another chair in at our table for six, we were summarily turned away.

I have no experience whatsoever in the restaurant business, but I have an idea of the amount of logistical juggling must take place in such an operation. I appreciate that. However, no matter how unforgiving the seating (the place was half empty when we arrived), I was shocked that given the choice between pulling up an extra chair or not, the manager chose to turn me away, leave me to wander down Smith Street ON MY BIRTHDAY with six of my friends in search of last minute accommodation, upset, disappointed, and very near tearful, and leave all of us with an astoundingly negative impression of Saul. I can't imagine anything would be worth that for a restaurant.

Even one of their own diners who was outside having a cigarette was more sympathetic than any one of Saul’s staff; she gave me a sad "happy birthday" as she went back inside to finish her meal. She seemed as stunned as we were at our poor reception. Personally, my jaw still drops when I think of how the situation was managed.

One last note: whoever did take my reservation originally was extremely nice. Maybe because we were a party of six, he made a point of asking "Is this a special occasion?" I imagined this implied we would have a special evening; unfortunately it only made the terrible treatment on Saturday sting that much more. Worst. Birthday. Ever.

I can recommend any number of outstanding restaurants in Brooklyn that will be happy to serve you graciously. Saul is not one of them.

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  1. What a story! That's outrageous. I'd call Saul and tell him what happened. He's a very nice guy and I'm sure he wouldn't be pleased with a customer being turned away like that--on her birthday no less!

    1. Really surprised to hear that. I've never had anything but gracious service there, especially from the regular maitre d'. On Christmas Even, he even told us to go to Sample during a short table wait and said he'd come and get us when the table was ready.

      As Claire suggested, I would call or write to the owner. I mean it's within their right I guess if they're booked, to turn you away if the party is too big....but I can't imagine why they wouldnt offer you the option of squeezing around the table, if you're willing to be a bit less comfortable.

      1. foodnfilm
        What a miserable experience!. I'd have to assume the Manager is either a total idiot or needs to either be retrained or replaced. I have never heard of any restaurant doing anything that ridiculous!. I don't even patronize restaurants that have the annoying practice of refusing to seat a party until all custmers have arrived, The other Posters are correct: By all means, call the owner and tell him what happened. If he has any business savvy, he'll send you a gift certificate to return for a belated birthday celebration.. I hope you found another great place and that your bad experience didn't ruin your celebration ... Happy Birthday!

        1. You are not going to like this but here goes.

          I've had two highly anticipated dining experiences COMPLETELY ruined because we were seated next to a table where an extra chair was added. Not that it has stuck with me, but one of them was in 1992 at the Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas. For the entire night, I was elbowed more times than Wayne Gretzky because the wait staff had to negotiate through a narrow gap. In looking over at the two-top next to us, where the seated third person was your classic generic businessman, I'm sure he scoreboarded the maitre'd into adding the chair even though it was in the middle of the aisle!

          1. Funny, I'm from Dallas and very familiar with the Mansion!
            I totally get that it's not an ideal situation, I was just shocked that we weren't offered anything at all. A later time, a little adjustment? Nothing.
            I did email the owner but have not gotten a response yet. I'll let you know what happens.

            To continue the story, we ended up at Chance- not my favorite cuisine on Smith Street, but let me tell you they bent over backwards to take care of us! Free drink for me on my birthday, the absolute friendliest service, and they were plenty happy to hear about Saul's terrible service and give us shelter! Viva La Chance!

            1 Reply
            1. re: foodnfilm

              Hurray for Chance. Glad it worked out in the end.