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Nov 28, 2007 01:59 PM

Kakaako Big City Diner a No-no

Visited the Big City Diner for the first time in Kakaako. Was very disappointed at the food quality but the service was excellent with our young waiter. After we finished breakfast which included 2 regular special fried rices plus a kim chee fried rice we decided to mention our displeasure to the waiter, The women had those dishes and ate only about a third of it commenting how mushy the rice was and had no taste. Our young waiter who served us said we were not the only ones who commented on the very topic that morning. He went back to speak with the manager about the situation and came back with an excuse and an apology saying that the cooking staff was new and inexperienced. He was hoping that the manager would comp the bill partially and/or give us dessert as a gesture of good will. Instead he said all he could personally offer was his personal discount of HIS own 7% as if he had eaten there. We were all disappointed that the manager himself did not offer anything or even speak with us. The price of the food was not an issue but just the PR principle of it all. Even though we received a kind gesture from the young waiter, we feel that the manager had no class. We always wanted to try that specific BCD for a long time since we knew the other locations had good food. That experince left us with a bad taste in our mouth. The following day we ate across the street at Kakaako Kitchen instead. Too bad we had a bad first impression of a classy name restaurant! Even Kua Aina next door was better.

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  1. Thanks for your report, how gracious (but should have been unnecessary) for the young waiter to offer you a solution rather than the manager. And since you made the effort to let all of us know of your situation I suggest you also contact Lane Muroaka the owner of all the BCD's at that would complete your cycle of venting and information giving and hopefully you will get satisfaction from that contact. I think many people should go directly to the top when such things happen to seek action and a peace of mind. Let us know what they say.

    2 Replies
    1. re: manomin

      I sent an email to their contact website describing the same situation as I had previously posted. I did not solicit or want any comp or refund because it was just the principle of the matter. In fact, we left the young waiter "his discount" as part of the tip for the original price of the bill plus the normal tip since he was so accommodating. The management definitely needs to enroll in Customer relations courses.

      1. re: Clinton

        Bravo to you! Glad to hear you sent an email, I didn't think you'd "solicit or want any comp or refund" but certainly wanted to let them know they are in serious trouble there with a manager like that, how he can attract (and it's doubtful that he will retain) employees like that one is hard to believe. A server with that much problem solving/service ethic can go far somewhere else with better pay no doubt. If you care to let us know what they say that would be interesting. I've always found the servers nice in kailua although it's not my choice at all to go there, when the in-laws come my FIL always insists on at least one lunch there I must say the mango margaritas are always great!

    2. I am surprised that you had such a bad experience. The two times I had issues with the food at BigCityDiner (one time the order was wrong, the other time the food disagreed with me) I either had the food replaced, or it was comped. Once was at the Kakaako location, the other was at Kaimuki. They were such rare occurances, and I was pleased by the response and have never hesitated to go back.

      5 Replies
      1. re: KaimukiMan

        The thing that bothered us was that we were not the only ones casually pointing out the poor quality of food that day according to that same waiter. Also as a side note, the manager knew of this problem because it was brought to his attention earlier by at least a couple of patrons. Anyway, have not received any response back from the email I sent yesterday morning. We still like Big City Diner, especially the one in Kaimuki but will never again go to the one in Kakaako. Would either prefer to go to Kua Aina across the street or to Kakaako Kitchen instead.

        1. re: Clinton

          Sorry to hear of you bad experience at Big City Diner. Hope the rest of your visit was more productive and enjoyable chow wise. Looking forward to hearing about the rest of your trip back to Honolulu.

          1. re: curiousgeo

            Foodwise, it was great. Had dinner at the Halekulani under the stars for someone's birthday. The steaks and baby backs were top quality as well as their cocktails. Also had a family dinner at Happy Days in Kaimuki which was great. Their Peking duck was out of this world as well as the battered tofu dish. Never had it that way before but it was very tasty. Kua Aina's burgers were excellent as usual and Kakaako Kitchen dishes were consistently good. The pork tofu and char siu fried saimin at Sekiya's brought back good memories of the past. Tried the Mai Tai Bar for lunch break at the Ala Moana Shopping Center having a cocktail and deep fried calamari with fries for an appetizer. The misoyaki butterfish and sushi at Shirokiya's was top notch also. Like Like Drive In for breakfast with all the locals was also kind of nostalgic. Great Portuguese sausage with rice and eggs hit the spot as well as a bowl of hot steaming saimin. Of course we had to go to Nisshoddo's for chi chi dangos. Ah sadly, we never made it to Leonard's for malassadas but we did have Beard Papa's haupia cream puffs for breakfast.

            1. re: Clinton

              Thanks for the report, sounds like a great visit back. Actually you kind of remind me of my brother who has lived away for the last 29 years. Everytime he comes for a visit he hits all his old favorites, Sekiya's, Like Like, Ono Hawaiian Food, Ruger Market, Liliha Bakery, Wisteria (before it closed). He hardly ever goes to the newer, more expensive places like Alan Wong's, 3660, Mavro's, etc., just to the places he used to frequent when he lived here.

              1. re: curiousgeo

                Your brother and I should get along perfectly! To this day I have not been to Alan Wong's, Roy's, Sam Choy's or any other nuevo-cuisine restaurants even though I have some personal connection with them. I prefer the old time places I was brought up with. I grew up in Kaimuki and remember all of the memorable places to eat which have now long gone by the wayside. Give me a half pound poke, a bottle of Primo beer and I'm a happy camper!

      2. Received a response from BCD's management. This is their response:

        cc: Rodelio Gasmen, Rob Nitta, via hardcopy

        Good Evening,

        Thank you very much for taking time from your busy schedule to email
        us regarding your recent experience at our Big City Diner Ward
        Entertainment Center restaurant. We are very concerned by your
        description of both the food quality and our management at this
        location, and would like to take this opportunity to extend our
        sincere apologies for your poor experience.

        Please know that these circumstances do not conform to the standards
        to which we at Big City Diner aspire. Both the Regional Manager and
        Executive Chef for this location have been advised of your remarks,
        with the goal of determining our areas of opportunity for improvement.

        Your kind words regarding both our Kaimuki and Kailua locations are
        appreciated, as is your past support of our restaurants, and they have
        been passed along to their Regional Manager and to our owner.

        We sincerely appreciate your bringing this situation to our attention
        and thereby allowing us the opportunity to take positive steps toward
        corrections. We hope that you will give us the opportunity to serve
        you again in the near future, and to demonstrate that this occurance
        was not typical for our company.

        Should you have any additional thoughts, or if I may be of any service
        to you, please do not hesitate to contact my office.


        Janice Takada
        Director of Catering & Sales
        Big City Diner
        808-487-8588 / voice
        808-487-8688 / fax

        1 Reply
        1. re: Clinton

          Thanks for sharing your response. I always have enjoyed the phrase "areas of opportunity....." I like the part about "Your kind words regarding.......and they have been passed along to the RM & owner" I am sure the owner will be thrilled and hopefully astonished at the experience you had. You are probably pleased that they responded in such a manner and it is good to know that people actually do write or contact management so many don't and all they do is complain on boards like this which is really not a solution. Thanks again for sharing! Have a great rest of your trip!

        2. I've never understood the popularity of BCD. The food is just so-so, and giant portions don't make me think it's better. The food is much better as local karaoke bars such as Any Place, where the fried rice is far superior. They also have beautiful simple poke and one of the best pork tofus in town. Just because you get a lot of food at BCD, doesn't make it good. Even the burger is blah, when I'd expect a place like that to make one of the best in town.