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Oct 9, 2007 05:00 AM

How not to win friends... Azucar in Silver Spring [moved from DC/Baltimore board]

Driving home from the restaurant last night, my wine and I elt like a bowl of soup. As we neared Wheaton we thought about Sergio's Place and Yet Gol but we go to both a lot and we wanted something different. We have not been to Azucar in a long while so I had Kay call them and see if they were open. It was 10:45 and they said sure, they were open till 11:00. We said we could be there in 10 minutes and would they seat us and could we order, just to be sure. They said yes, come on by. So I headed up driving a mite faster than the MoCoPD may have exactly approved of and in well less than 10 minutes we were a block short of Bel Pre RD when we got a call back on the cell phone: Don't bother, they were closed. Kay protested that they said we could come less than 5 minutes ago and they said didn't matter, they were closed! By the time we got back to Wheaton, both Sergio's and Yet Gol were closed.

I think that once a restaurant says come by and you give them an exact time frame they need to live up to it. I really like Azucar but I doubt I will be going back for a long time. If at all.

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  1. Obviously something happened in the five minutes between the time you called and they called you back. Maybe there was a communications breakdown and a key employee went home and they didn't realize it?

    In any event, they made the effort to call you--were they polite and apologetic? It was *five minutes* wasted out of your lifetime. Not enough to condemn a favorite place for life in my book. Just my $.02.

    1 Reply
    1. re: tubman

      No they were rude and angry on the return call. If they ahd explained the situation, this post would not have gone up. We said we called you 5 minutes ago, what happened? They did not reply to our question and just said don't come.

      The issue is not the time spent, it is the rude treatment and tyrint making us seem int he wrong. If a restaurant had hours, it should honor it. At my restaurant, one time my manager without my knowlege closed 15 minutes early. A customer wo came 5 minuted before our actual closing time was turned away and when I found aout about it, I invited them back for a free dinner for 2 on the house.

      I was not looking for a freebie, but dinner. As it happened, we passed two other restaurants that would have seated us because of the phone call only to get back to them after they closed.

    2. Or the front of the house said sure while the kitchen had already begun shutting down. At least they called you back! This situation doesn't seem too bad to me, I mean showing up at at a restaurant right before closing isn't usually the best idea anyway.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Jason1

        They called back and were rude.

        I amnot sure of this attitude... its not a good idea to show up before closing? I mean the business is free to set its closing time. It chooses to be open or not. Why should I get second class treatment when I show up late. Do they give me a discount? Or set a time limit? I mean I understand waiters will be doing side work and the place will be getting cleaning. That's OK and comes with the territory. But I am one of those folks who, when I say something, I follow thru with it.

        Let me take your point to a silly extreme. If you have your doctor's last appointment of the day is it OK for the doctor to give you a second class examination? "Sorry I forgot to give you antibiotics.... I was trying to get home to see Monday Night Football?" Or "come back tomorrow, I took to many appointments today and I need to scram?"

        How hard would it have been to check with the kitchen before saying yes to us?

        To me, the reason I go to restaurants is for service. And in the last few weeks I have had horrible service experiences.

        1. re: deangold

          Why not call Azucar back right now while the iron is hot...13.5 hours after the incident...explain what happened last night, and report back to us how they handle it?

          If you let it boil your blood for another week while responses accumulate on this thread, they'll forget all about it. And we'll never know what the management of this restaurant is really made of.


          1. re: tubman

            I am trying to reach the manager and so far have net even been told when he will be back in.

            1. re: deangold

              I did talk to the manager and he did appologize so we will go back, but not anywhere close to the closing time, so it may be a long time before we do as my wife and I seldom eat out before 10:30pm or later. He did say they should have served us even if we got there at 11pm as "they like to keep their hours".

      2. Personally speaking, I think you ought to let it go. You called them fifteen minutes before their closing time. After a long day's worth of work, people just want to go home. They have lives as well. I don't know about you, but you seem to give them impression that you would give complete and full, attentive service at your workplace if someone walked in five minutes before you were going to go home.

        Just the other week, my friend and I wanted to check out Central. We called ahead and found out they were closing at 11pm (it was about 10:30p), we headed down and would have arrived right at 10:45p, but why? When we go out to eat, we want to dine in a place that's ready to serve - not with a staff who would like to go home after a long day. We headed over to Oyamel instead and had a great time.

        A week later, another friend called to head down to Les Halles. We got there at 11pm (they serve until midnight), plenty of time to enjoy ourselves.

        The lesson to be learned here is to get to the restaurant a bit early. If you had arrived fifteen minutes before closing time then there would be some substance to your complaint, but to arrive five minutes before closing and expect the staff to roll out the red carpet? That's reaching.

        2 Replies
        1. re: onocoffee

          Actually I worked for Whole Foods and we did have a rule that no department could shut down till every customer finished shopping. We would keep the entire store open until the customers were done. Both stores where I worked at did this but some do not.

          My own restaurant will respond honestly about a late seating. We close at a particular time, the kitchen closes 1/2 hour later and the bar closes with last call from the bar at 11pm. If you get there at 9:30 on a Tuesday you will get seated and you will get normal service. We do not break down tables or stackchair until the last diner is thru. Thats what posted hours mean to me. I know a huge number of customers who appreciate that fact. We often hold the restaurant open as much as 15 minutes after our posted closing time to acommodate late diners. BUt we never close early without pre-notifying our customers. For example, when we close for a special event, we post that fact 3 weeks before the date just to avoid disspaointing our customers.

          Also, Onocoffee, I called 15 minutes before closing. I was told to come. If they said hey we are closing early there would have been no post. But THEY told us to come and when we were less than a block away from the restaurant, in less time than we said, they told us no way. And when we asked why, they told us they were already closed. And their manager says they were in the wrong. That says a lot doesn't it?

          1. re: deangold

            I hear you, Dean. I hear you. Even during my example of Central, they told us to come down, but again I ask why bother? As much as I enjoy a good meal, can we really enjoy it when we know that we're the group that's holding everyone up and everyone is waiting for us to finish? In those circumstances, I prefer to go someplace else that's open later with a staff ready to accommodate our desires.

        2. It's a shame about your poor experience! Maybe the host got flak from the kitchen and took it out on you. Not a good excuse for being rude to a potential customer though.

          My SO and I went to grab a late meal at Sushi on Bloor (a cheap and casual resto in Toronto, ON) after watching a film. We checked the posted hours and saw that we had about 20 minutes left before close, and they usually get orders out promptly. We walked in and were told by the hostess that they were closed, sorry. Okay, maybe their kitchen is closed, so we made to leave. Apparently their manager had just walked out as we were walking in and heard her, so he turned around saying, "no no no, we're still open, come on in" and chastised the hostess in front of us. Awkward!

          She told us we'd have to order everything at once, as the kitchen would be closing down after preparing this last meal for us. (sort of brusque, but we weren't put out) The other staff all looked at us and the thought of having my food spat on went through my mind...eeps! We ordered easy-to-prepare items and the server brought everything out, telling us to take our time as he had lots of things to do to close shop.

          So we had a mixture of patience and impatience when trying to eat out near closing time. Definitely something I'd rather *not* make a habit of! Although our server tried to make amends and not rush us, we did feel like we needed to eat and leave quickly.

          1. dean,

            Jfood wonders how many people call restos at 15 before closing say they are on their way and never show up. You, unfortunately, may have been caught in the broad brush of others who have ruined it for you in the past.

            given the tone that you have responded to many posters here who have expressed their opinion, jfood would guess that the rudeness was two ways, if at all. As far as being treated as a second class citizen, you gotta be kidding. you call a resto 15 minutes before closing and are pleased they will accommodate, and then get upset that they had the courtesy to call you back.

            Given your schedules you should find places that serve later than1100. Asking resto in suburbia to serve >1100 is not the normal business model.