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Have you ever been ignored in a restaurant?

I had a horrible experience Friday night at one of my favorite restaurants and I need some insight. Here's what happened:

The restaurant in question is a bit of a foodie favorite serving local, sustainable stuff. Entrees range $20-$30. We had 6:30 reservations for 4 on Friday, and arrived a little before 6:30. We were seated promptly in a half empty dining room, given our menus. We went over the menu, changed our minds several times, discussed the wines, talked about what we were going to order, started some small talk, etc.

Not once during these deliberations did a server come to the table to say hello, nor did any buser come to bring water. I've dined here dozens of times before, and usually by now we would have been greeted by a server. Odd, but no big deal. But then 6:40 rolls around…and I see that a table that was seated after us has their water and are giving an order to a server.

So we all started trying to get eye contact with servers…conversation stopped. Our menus were flat down on the table. We all kept looking around trying to get eye contact with someone. I was starting to get "that feeling" that things are not going to go well.

Finally, at 6:45 one of my friends flagged down a buser and asked him to find our server and let them know we were waiting and ready to order. He nodded and walked off. My friend witnessed the buser say something to a server, who then looked at our table with a surprised look on her face. "Oh it's ok, we've finally been spotted!" he reported jokingly.

But then five more minutes go by and we still haven't even been acknowledged -- no water, no "hi, we're really busy and someone will be right with you". Nothing. Hmm…so they know we're sitting here, they know we've BEEN sitting here, they know we are ready to order at least 4 entrees (actually it was going to be 2 bottles of wine, 4 apps, 4 entrees, and 4 coffees, but I digress)…and they choose to continue ignoring us. The only conclusion was that they didn't want our money.

So we got up to go, and as we were leaving I walked up to a server and explained that we had been sitting at our table for twenty minutes with no acknowledgement so we were leaving. She said that they had just opened their back patio and the servers were still getting used to it, she was sorry. But the excuse didn't make sense. The restaurant was only half full, and I doubt many people were even out on the patio -- the weather was chilly and only getting chillier. Regardless, why would being swamped in one dining room prevent someone from just coming by to acknowledge a table in another dining room and tell them that someone will be right with them?

I have never had to walk out of a restaurant for being ignored, and I am surprised how much it still upsets me three days later. I've dined here regularly since the place opened nearly ten years ago -- as often as once a month during some stretches. It ain't a cheap place and I'm a darn good tipper.

Has this ever happened to you? If so, do you think it's worth calling the owner? I'm taking this personally, which is silly. But when you recommend a place so vehemently for so long and cheer in its success and choose to spend your money there and then they ignore you, it hurts.

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  1. You need to call and let them know that you are a regular, and your treatment was appalling. Also point out that you tried to get a server, and that you don't normally walk out on a restaurant. This has happened to us only once or maybe twice, and it is not a good feeling, especially after you have made reservations, and are hungry. The management needs to know about this.

    1. I've been ignored, but not with that depth of concentration. I too ended up walking out.

      1. yes it might tick me off, and yes maybe someone should have come over for a drink order or something.....but I don't think i'd walk out of a restaurant after 20 minutes, nor would i call it appalling........ myself, usually at that point i'm still settling in and chatting with friends. I'm thinking the surprised look you got was over the fact that you'd flagged someone else down other than your server, so early in the game (something tells me servers do not like this....not to justify it..)

        That being said, it probably didn't accomplish anything for you to pull aside busers or servers to complain....where was the person who seated you?

        6 Replies
        1. re: im_nomad

          I hear you on the 20 minutes issue, but have you ever timed your restaurant experiences?

          20 minutes isn't a long time for a bus ride, but it's a very long time to sit in a chair and wait to be acknowledged as a customer ready to spend your money. The four of us had a VERY leisurely discussion about what to have, as well as other topics totally unrelated to dinner. And we weren't extremely hungry, so I don't think we were impatient or had an altered idea of time. 20 minutes is a long time.

          Keep in mind, we weren't even given water. Plus, people seated after us were already giving their order, so it was enough time for them to be seated, make their choices, get water, and give an order.

          And as far as annoying a server by asking to order food from them 'so early in the game', I don't really buy that. Seems to me, if you see a table of 4 smiling people who want to order from you, you at least go over the let them know you'll be right with them if you can't take the order right then and there.

          And I have to stress, we never were curt or sharp with anyone. I firmly believe you get further by being nice than being rude in life (although now I wonder if I should rethink that philosophy).

          1. re: Absonot

            Well, no, I don't think you should rethink that policy. After all, look what the restaurant didn't get by being rude to you...

            1. re: Absonot

              i'm not saying that i wouldn't be sitting there getting miffed, and looking at my watch or drumming my fingers on the table, and yes it would likely affect the tip...i'm just not sure i'd actually get up and walk out of the restaurant after 20 mins, only to have to go home, or find another restaurant, probably adding another hour to a dinner wait. I'm also not condoning weird looks from waitstaff or what not, just offering another view, based on the vibes i've gotten a couple of times in the past when i've stopped another server for a forgotten item or what not.

              Something does sound fishy about the situation though, maybe something strange was going on. It sounds from your post that you were seated by someone other than a server, and that no server had been actually assigned to the table.

              i agree with jfood on a lot of points. I too am surprised that after ten years, the staff did not seem to know you. I also agree that the step before walking out would have been for one to get up and find someone in charge.

              1. re: Absonot

                >>20 minutes is a long time.

                Isn't it though? I'm curious that this is somehow acceptable to some. It is not to me.

                On the hopes that it was an off night, I probably would have gotten up and made a point of finding a server after a reasonable wait (20 minutes is not reasonable), and then give them another try.

                If you get the same service next go-around, ditch them.

                1. re: dolores

                  Speaking as a server/bartender, 20 minutes is an absolutely APPALLING amount of time to wait for acknowledgement, and of all the managers I have ever had, I can't think of a single one who wouldn't fire the server assigned to that section ON THE SPOT. One restaurant I worked at told us that we had 30 seconds in which to greet each table after they sat down, while another (which had bussers taking care of things like bread and water) gave us about 3 minutes.

                  Management should definitely be made aware of what happened (be sure to mention that you have been loyal guests of their restaurant for a long time). Building a solid foundation of regular guests is the only way a restaurant can be successful, so I guarantee that these people value your business. My bet is that they will go out of their way to make it up to you, and since it sounds like this was the first incident of its kind in ten years, I would suggest giving them one more chance.

              2. re: im_nomad

                Being ignored is my biggest pet peeve, and the only reason I've ever walked out of a restaurant. I understand if a server is rushed, but all he/she has to say is "I'll be with you soon" or some such thing. At least I know that they know I'm here. To be completely unacknowledged to the point where no water is served is not only insulting, but disrupts the flow. As the OP said, "all conversation stopped" as they were wondering what the heck was going on and how to rectify it.

                I'm one of those that usually sides with the server, although I've never been one. I have, however, worked with the public long enough to know that people can be unreasonably demanding, annoying, etc, but I don't think 20 minutes is "early in the game" when the server hasn't even said hello.

                I agree with Jfood, once again, in that informing the MOD is the way to go, whether or not one chooses to leave. I've done both--told the MOD who did his best to convince us to stay, but it was too late. I had an experience where we were told there was no MOD by the hostess and when we told her why we were leaving she merely shrugged her shoulders. I've also stayed, although that time it was because my date found another waiter, obiously from a different station, but he more than made up for the initial problem by giving us excellent service.

              3. Waiting 20 minutes for the initial check-in by the server is never acceptable, and leaving was what you decided to do without discussing the situation with the MOD, and now it bothers you. Here are a couple of things jfood sees from your post and how you might avoid in the future.

                - As a regular for 10 years, jfood is surprised the staff did not know you. jfood is a regular in many restaurants and it has never taken 10 years for a nice relationship to develop. Sometimes after a third visit the MOD knows jfood, several of the servers and possibly the chef. Has this resto had enormous turnover or how can they not know someone who has been there monthly during some stretches. Try to be a regular in your eyes as well as the eyes of the restuarant. You know you are a regular, but it is also important for the restaurant to know this real time.
                - Are you sure the server you spoke with on your way out was the server assigned to your table?
                - Could it be that since the patio was newly opened that the servers had new assignments and possibly a server was not assigned to your table? Or the server assigned to your table did not realize it since it was a different section?
                - Jfood would always ask the MOD instead of a busser. Most busser are not totally fluent in English from jfood's experience. With four people at the table possibly one could have excused themselves to go to the MOD to see if someone could come over.
                - Maybe the restaurant was short-staffed that night. Approaching the MOD would have given you the answer.
                - One bad experience should not stop you from going back
                - Other

                All of these are just ideas that may explain the situation, but in the end what happened was a bad call on the part of the restaurant. A call to the restaurant is definitely in order. At this point the only people who know why you left are the busser and the server who did not take the ball and run. Probably neither has brought this to the manager's attention. Even if asked they would probably respond, "I have no idea why they left."

                You obviously like the place. It would be a shame if you did not return because of a scheduling or staffing misunderstanding.

                7 Replies
                1. re: jfood

                  Thanks for your post.

                  A few years ago, after having the same server for the third time in three trips, I wondered why no one at this restaurant ever seemed to recognize me. Turnover is not that high. Finally, I just figured that they treat everyone fairly and in an equally polite manner, so I stopped caring about it. It's not a schmoozy place, and I'm fine with that. Plus, I don't like to get too chatty with servers and kitchen staff anyway -- I worry I'm keeping them.

                  I bet it was simply a table that hadn't been assigned a server. That makes the most sense given the fact we never even got water, and I'm sure it was a problem they didn't know they had until we were seated there (it was on the early side). The server I talked to was not ours, and there is no MOD in the place. So I really had no one else to talk to (or I felt I didn't, which I think is the same difference).

                  I expected to get a lot of "oh puleeze, get a life" responses from this post, so I thank all of you who responded so thoughtfully. I'm still debating calling, because I don't really know what I'd be asking for or expecting. And I do plan on going back, because it's a place we've talked up to my SO's parents who are visiting next month...

                  1. re: Absonot

                    I would definitely call before going back. And, to be honest, I'd be a little bothered if I had the same server for three times and wasn't recognized, whether the place is schmoozy or not.

                    I have been ignored in a restaurant for about 20 minutes after seating. Moreover, it was a TINY restaurant (Fig Cafe in Glen Ellen) which made it a bit more bothersome since we were seated right in the middle and there was no way they didn't know we were there...but, just as I was about to get up and go get someone (which is what I would have done before walking out) our server came over, apologizing profusely: two servers, and they each thought our table was assigned to the other one...

                    and we had a lovely, delicious brunch, with outstanding service once past the initial issue. I imagine they wanted to make it up to us by doing the best job possible...which is why I would probably try and address the issue first if it ever happens again...

                    1. re: Absonot

                      I'm not sure why its relevant whether or not the OP is a regular. Even if I've never been to a restaruant before I expect to be aknowledged sooner than 20 minutes. That has nothing to do with getting a better table or a comped whatever that might go with being a regular. Water and an order within 20 minutes should apply for everyone!

                      1. re: jes


                        jfood's first statement was in total agreement with you. Everyone should have an intitial check-in well before 20 minutes.

                        But jfood's comment was that the OP was a regular and he should have had a certain relationship with one, or more, of the staff. It is strange with the timeline presented and a long standing 10-year relationship that someone just ups and leaves without a simple discussion with an MOD (there is always someone in charge).

                        And in the follow-up OP seems to agree it was a fall between the cracks sorta event.

                        In any event, if jfood has been eating at a place for 10 years and was presented with this data he sure as shootin' would have approached whoever was in charge at the 10-minute mark to make sure they knew a table was being ignored.

                        1. re: jfood

                          For someone who states that they get to know not only the staff of a restaurant, but the critters in the dumpster as well, I find it amusing that you don't know yourself well enough to not have to talk about yourself in the third person.
                          Now, that being said, I think the OP should have seeked out a manager, or at the very least, the host/hostess. I have been ignored at restaurants before, and when it happened, I let the manager be aware of it. Sometimes, I stayed and ate after my talk with the manager, other times, after speaking with the manager, I have still left.
                          One time at a chain steakhouse which I frequented often but didn't care if they shouted my name as I entered like they did to Norm on Cheers, I told the manager of being ignored and let her know that I didn't feel comfortable staying for my meal. She gave me a comp for my party to be used at a later date (there were 3 of us), which we did. The funny thing is that we left that restaurant and went to the same chain 20 minutes away. Some may say that was crazy, but I had had enough of being ignored and didn't want to eat inside that restaurant at that point. It's my German stubborness.

                    2. re: jfood

                      "Sometimes after a third visit the MOD knows jfood, several of the servers and possibly the chef."

                      Some of us are the opposite. I don't want to interact with people beyond the minimum amount required to get my food in a timely, efficient mannger, and I do not care if I am memorable. I don't think this should affect the time it takes to serve me, though.

                      Different people have different needs.

                      1. re: Snackish

                        And jfood stated the exact same thing that it should not matter. A better explanation is in his post immediately above yours time stamped Mar 25, 2008 10:09AM.

                    3. I think this happens occasionally. It's usually a miscommunication between mgmt/hostess and wait staff. Either the server didn't know you were there, or there was no server assigned to that section (seems unlikely).

                      It's happened to me, and I usually have gone to find someone in charge. Yeah, I'm usually a little frustrated by the time I get up to find someone, but I also know it's not personal. It's not like they say "oh, there's that egit guy... let's pretend we don't see him..."

                      That wouldn't make any sense.

                      1. Five of us were going to an event in downtown Walnut Creek so we stopped at Katy's Kreek for dinner. We arrived at 5:45 giving ourselves plenty of time before the 7pm curtain. We were given our bread and water immediately and then, nothing. As the minutes ticked by, we tried in vain to get the attention of a server. At 6:15, we finally caught the eye of the owner, who took our orders and assured us we could be out of there by 6:50. At 6:50, we got up to leave having had nothing but bread and water. The owner asked what the problem was and when we told him we never received our food, he conferred with the kitchen staff. Though we couldn't hear anything, we watched as the owner pulled our order form from his pocket where he had absent-mindedly stuffed it. He didn't really apologize but explained that the performing arts center (across the street) should notify him when they hold an event!
                        I wrote a letter the next day but never even got a response.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: ola

                          Oh, this is SO bad! What dreadful service all the way down the line. The only one who even came close to serving you was the one who gave you bread & water!

                          And to not even acknowledge your letter... my oh my. It's a wonder they're still in business with such god-awful service issues!

                        2. They had just opened an outdoor patio area. The tables inside, as a result, had been reassigned. So it was an Alfonse and Gaston, both servers uncertain that the table was their's and not wanting to intrude on the other's. They were either clueless or didn't want to remotely intrude on the other's territory.

                          From the position of the patrons, they just want to be served. But the staff is stifled by the bigger picture -- they had just expanded, there were new assignments, and nobody was willing to risk stepping on another's toes.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: nosh

                            This kind of thing has happened to me and it always turned out to be that no server was assigned through some snafu like has been suggested. However as soon as we brought it to someone's attention a waiter or manager would be right over apologizing for the fact that we were forgotten, and ordering would take place at once.

                          2. This has never happened to me to the point where I've had to walk out of the restaurant. I would've expected that the request to the busser should've had the desired effect and am surprised that it did not. That alone is blatant enough service disruption to warrant walking out. But I would not take it personally, because I'm sure that it was not directed at you, but it was a big lapse in service, enough that you should call it to someone's attention.

                            I am guessing from your description that the restaurant is on 18th St. and begins with a D? There could be some reasons why this might have occurred, and a call to the owner is definitely in order. The restaurant could've recently lost their GM to another restaurant, and is searching for another. Or, the owners could be in the process of opening up another restaurant in a different neighborhood and might be overwhelmed, and unfortunately may be relying on someone in the front of the house who may not be fully integrated into the system.

                            In any event, because you go regularly, you should definitely call or write a note to the owner to explain what happened, without pointing fingers or naming names, and just say that something seems to have gone wrong that evening which is why you left. I would also put the complaint into context by telling her that you are an "under the radar" regular who goes there at least a dozen times a year.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: farmersdaughter

                              Your guess is good, but about 15 blocks too far north...

                            2. You absolutely did the right thing by leaving. In my experience when service has started out bad, it has never gotten better. I have never had the situation where the server didn't realize you were there and more than made up for the oversight. It's always been they are just crappy servers or too busy to be attentive. It's become my new policy that after 10 minutes, I leave.
                              I work as a server and someone, anyone, needs to greet a new table within 1 minute and get a drink order. It's not hard to do and people are a lot more patient with drinks on the way or water in hand.
                              I don't care who's table it was, all of the servers work for the restaurant. They are not independent contractors who don't have a responsibility to the restaurant. Even if it isn't their tip, they should be interested in everyone in the place having a nice time. So, the best thing to have done would have been to get a manager (not a busser) and see what kind of improvement happens afterwards. It would definitely tarnish my opinion of the restaurant that a server knew you were unhappily waiting and did nothing. Definitely call the restaurant so they can re-train their staff.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Azizeh Barjesteh

                                i agree with you, especially the 10 minute rule.

                                the closest restaurant to my house is a bar at the end of the street. in general, the food's not very good, but they do 1 or 2 things ok/well, and are convenient for a meal when i just don't want to put forth any effort. their service is also frequently atrocious. we went there at least 4 times in the months after they opened, seated ourselves, and proceeded to be ignored for 15-20 minutes on each occasion (the place is basically a shotgun set-up; nearly all tables are visible to all waitstaff and the bartenders). each time, we got up and left. i talked to the owner (she's a neighbor) after the 2nd incident (chalked the 1st one up to opening week jitters), and wrote a note after the 3rd. never received any response at all. now, years later, when convenience warrants, we'll drop in and grab a table; if after 5 minutes we haven't been acknowledged (even though we know most of the staff from the neighborhood), we walk. it's past the point where it even bothers us, and we have long since learned that if we do wait, the service will not improve. in fact, we now have a standing joke that when we want to eat there, we should just call in a carry-out order, but eat it there (we haven't tried it yet, but the day will come).

                                1. re: Azizeh Barjesteh

                                  >>>I work as a server and someone, anyone, needs to greet a new table within 1 minute and get a drink order. It's not hard to do and people are a lot more patient with drinks on the way or water in hand.

                                  Brilliant! I missed your response before.

                                  You are positively, absolutely, 1000% percent correct.

                                  Just what I would do if I were a server.

                                  One minute (or thereabouts). Perfect, Azizeh, just perfect. Would that you could clone yourself.

                                2. I don't blame you for being shattered.

                                  1. I've only walked out of restaurant once, and it was because we were completely ignored. I definitely would call the owner and explain what happened. Especially if it's a place you really enjoy going. No need to get nasty, just politely explain what happened and that you are supposed to bring guests there soon and you want to make sure it doesn't happen again. Let us know how it turns out.

                                    1. So I called the restaurant, and I'm so glad I did!

                                      The manager (chef/owner) remembered us right away and was very contrite about what happened. He said it's never happened before at the restaurant (which I believe), and he immediately asked for my address so he could send me a gift certificate to make up for it (which I didn't expect). Apparently, he'd gone to the reservations list and narrowed me down to one of two parties, but wasn't sure which one to call -- so it was a good thing I did.

                                      It was a very pleasant conversation, actually -- for the first time I got a chance to tell him personally how I've been enjoying his restaurant for so long and will continue to do so in the future.

                                      Oh yeah, the reason for the treatment boiled down to a new hostess not marking our table as seated and a server who had some distracting personal issues. I am completely confident it will never happen again.

                                      Thanks to all who added their two cents. I really don't think I would have called without your encouragement!

                                      I love happy endings...

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: Absonot

                                        That's the best possible conclusion to a bad evening! I'm so glad they are doing the right thing. Just a lot of things going wrong, leading to a disaster for you.

                                        Good news!

                                        1. re: Absonot

                                          Good. I'm very happy they did the right thing.

                                          In many restaurants in NYC the hostesses are hired more for their looks than their experience. Regardless of their relative intellectual abilities, they've probably not worked in many restaurants. Also, it occurs to me that the only other person you had any contact with was a busser. These two positions, hostess and busser, tend to be the two lowest on the FoH totem pole in many restaurants.

                                          I'm glad you decided to contact the restaurant. I guess if there's a lesson to be learned, it would have been easier to try to resolve the problem before becoming angry enough to get up and walk out. If there was a MoD, s/he would certainly would rather you stay than leave.

                                          1. re: Absonot

                                            I recently posted about a bad experience, and called the manager the next day. He totally refunded what we spent and was surprised about the service we got. (I was NOT calling to get a refund, just to let him know.) They can't see everything that happens and it is our duty to let them know. You were polite and I am so glad that it worked out well. Now they will remember you! I love happy endings, as well!

                                            1. re: Absonot

                                              There ya go. case closed with a great verdict.

                                              enjoy your night out.

                                            2. I would have asked the maitr'd who the server was, then asked that he/she be removed from the table because they were ruining my evening. I've done that twice in a very long career eating out---and I think it's better than sitting there stewing.

                                              1. Yes. This past summer. My husband and I headed to Providence, RI for a late lunch on a Saturday (~1:30ish). We are foster parents for an organization that raises and trains assistance dogs. We often dine out with an assistance dog in training and he was with us this weekend. The host escorted us through the restaurant, passed diners and available set for service tables into an empty back room where none of the tables were set for diners. We were seated and presented menus. At this time, we were abandoned. We waited ~15/20 minutes, then decided to leave the restaurant. My husband informed the manager (who I think was also an owner), and host we were leaving because we were ignored. There was no apology, explanation or attempt to correct the situation. I'm still hoping that this was just a misunderstanding because they weren't sure how to handle the service dog and not how they conduct their business when dealing with clientele that are not their norm. I had heard great things about the restaurant and was anxious to try it but this experience left a very bad taste in my mouth and I would probably never return even if I didn't have the service dog with me.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: Bluebird

                                                  The jfoods raised seeing-eye and service dogs for years (that's one of them as the avatar) and dealing with restaurants is very touchy. Some do not want to appear unsympathetic when you make the reservation and this restaurant seems a little befluxed on what to do so they placed you in the other room. Probably noone knew you were even there.

                                                  In the future when you make a reservation with the pooch, make sure to tell them that he is in training and part of the training is the interaction and getting used to all the hub-bub in a restaurant setting. Some will say they cannot accomodate and others will seat you at a slightly bigger table so pooch can be out of harm's way. Remember to tip better than normal if they accomodate.

                                                  Writing a restaurant off because they did not know how to handle a service dog seems harsh. They may not have any idea if the law allowed him in, where to seat you, liability if someone tripped over him, all kinds of stuff. Since you raise these wonderful animals you already have a great deal of compassion. Throw a little the restaurant's way. If it is good, you have a good story to share with the owner.

                                                  1. re: jfood

                                                    Thanks Jfood. This our first service dog in training. It has been a wonderful experience. We were out for a training walk in the city and we were not sure where we were going to end up to eat. (Correction to my earlier post - it was January not over the summer). When going to a restaurant without reservations with the dog, we always go at non-peak times so to limit disruption and my husband enters first to ask for a table and explain the dog in training. It was 1:30 on a Saturday.

                                                    When we know where we are going, I always call ahead to alert them to the service dog in training and to answer any questions. 99% of the time, people are wonderful and incredibly interested in meeting the dog. Better tips when we are with the dog, goes without saying for us. Usually our only requested accommodation is to avoid the two top in the middle of the restaurant where it may be difficult for out pup to completely "under". We don't want a nose or tail to get stepped on or a server to trip. We also make sure that the server assigned to us knows that there is a dog under the table so they aren't startled.

                                                    I posted about this particular experience on my local CH board. Someone responded with comments about not being surprised, noting that owner of this particular establishment had a "reputation" and that the food had gone downhill. The posts on my local board probably contribute to my "won't go back attitude". I suspect that when/if I start hearing raves about the food again, that I would probably venture back. It is hard for me to pass up good food or a good dining experience.

                                                  2. re: Bluebird

                                                    How nice. I imagine they treat those in need of service dogs in much the same dismissive way they treat those training service dogs.

                                                    Sounds like they are in need of some 'training' themselves.

                                                  3. My old hometown in Southern Ohio is known to be unusually racially political; there's parts of town that are clearly "this kind of people" or "that kind". But as some wonderful little restaurants and eateries are in both kinds, I ignore stupid racial lines and go to eat where the food's good.

                                                    Unfortunately, more than once, I've been totally ignored, to the point of trying to place an order and having servers look around me as if I'm not even there.

                                                    1. You should definitely call or write to the owners. The closest experience I've had to yours was during lunch. I had to flag someone down to take my order. I had to flag someone down twice to check the status of my order. 45 minutes after I arrived, I was about to leave. The waitress came over, apologized for the delay, said they were incredibly busy and would not be able to serve my lunch for quite a while, so she understands if I have to leave!

                                                      1. There was (a key tense, here) a much ballyhooed So. Indian restaurant in our town. My family of three went for Sunday lunch and were the only non-Indians there. We were fully ignored and sat there while people who had been seated quite a bit after us got dish after dish. I am not shy and collared the manager and asked what was the story. He said he'd send a server to our table but none came. We walked out.

                                                        I called and spoke to the owner. He denied anything of the sort could have happened and called me a troublemaker! It was so ludicrous, I laughed. Regrettably, my 7 year old son asked me if all Indian restaurants don't like "people like us". I said no way and we soon went to another Indian restaurant where we were treated kindly.

                                                        1. I was outright ignored once, in Belgium. It was during one year in graduate school when I spent the summer working in the UK. A good college buddy flew over and we spent several weeks traveling through Europe.

                                                          On the whole, we had a fantastic time, but when we were in Brussels for a day, we went to one of the city's recommended chocolatiers. It was a very posh store, and granted, we were both 24 and carrying large backpacks and looked like many other American college students. However, we *were* clean and freshly shaven and what have you.

                                                          Well, the staff in the little store completely ignored us. We'd gone over to the counter and looked at the chocolates and were ready to place our order. There were two people in the store when we came in, both well-dressed matrons. They placed their order and were served promptly. In the meantime, two other patrons came in, and the saleswomen completely passed us over to treat the newcomers. And they repeated the treatment with two more newcomers. During the entire time we were in the store, none of the staff ever attempted to make eye contact with us.

                                                          So we left.

                                                          I won't say we were upset. We were amused. My buddy is from a family of substantial wealth, and my background isn't too shabby, and it was actually an eye opening lesson on snobbery.

                                                          1. yes, it has happened to me before. not many times, but a couple. anytime it happens to me I leave. they don't deserve my money or time.

                                                            1. Hi! This is my first time posting, and I would like to share my recent experience. My boyfriend and I decided to try this steakhouse while on a business trip recently. It was midweek, and before 5, and when we called they said we did not need reservations. The dining room was barely 1/3 full when we arrived, but we were seated way in the back by the bathroom where no one else was seated. We sat there for at least ten minutes before we flagged someone down to ask about our server. He went over to the bar and spoke to a girl sitting there, who turned around, looked at us, and continued talking to the bartender. Another five minutes went by before she finally came over. She didn't say hello or anything, just asked us what wine we would like to order. My bf replied that we wouldn't be having any wine, just pop and coffee, thank you. He does not drink, and I just wanted a Coke. She got this really annoyed look on her face, and said quite rudely WHAT? What do you mean? Why not? My bf and I looked at each other and then back at her. I responded that we would be having dinner, but would not be drinking any liquor because we were driving, thank you. I was thinking, not that it is any of your business why someone doesn't drink, and what a bizarre thing to ask. She seemed completely put out and walked off. We sat there not knowing what to think about that, but decided what we were going to order and proceeded to wait. And wait. And wait.
                                                              We noticed that our server was sitting in a booth further down the row, chatting quite loudly with another server. After about 20 minutes, with no drinks showing up, we flagged down a busboy to please get our waitress so we could order. She came over, another five minutes later, and just stood there looking at us and did not say anything. We placed our order, and when she turned to leave, I asked about our drinks. She didn't even say anything, just turned her head and shot us a very hostile look and walked off. Eventually our dinner arrived, at the same time as our salad, our appetizers, and our drinks. The food was fine, but our appetites had a bit of a damper on them, and since everything came all at once, half of it was cold.
                                                              As we sat there trying to figure out what was going on, we proceeded to watch our waitress sit in the booth directly behind us, and proceed to chitchat with the couple seated there, about: how her roommate is an alcoholic and does drugs, and what kind of drugs, and she is always passed out in the apartment, and how she is such a good friend and tries to help her, but she doesn't want her advice, and then how she was engaged, and all about her wedding plans, and then about her car breaking down, and then about how she had to work on the weekend and she didn't want to, etc. etc. blah blah blah
                                                              We were both stunned, as we, and probably anyone in a fifteen foot radius could hear her because she was so loud. She never came over to check on us, the food, refill our coffee or pop, take away any plates, anything. We finally flagged down the busboy again and asked for the manager. When our waitress heard us ask, then she got up and asked if we wanted anything else. We replied no thank you, we would like the check please. She brought it over, dropped it on the table, finally took away our plates, and left. My boyfriend paid the check, still left 18% tip even though she deserved nothing, and we sat there waiting for the manager. When he finally came over we explained what had happened. He did not seemed concerned at all, and just said that he was surprised because she was one of his best servers. I explained that I had worked as a server in some very nice restaurants back home in Chicago, and that was not how we were trained to treat people, or for that matter, how I was raised to treat people! He never offered to refund our money or apologize or anything. We would not have taken a refund because we did eat (some of it!), but an apology would have been nice. It was very upsetting to be treated so poorly. We enjoy eating out often, and were dressed nicely, so it could not have been that we looked like bums. Our bill was almost $200, even without liquor, so it could not have been that we ordered inexpensive meals. A few days later I wrote a letter to the owner, and have never received a response. Needless to say, we will never eat at Dakota's in Simi Valley again, and have told everyone we know about what happened, and if they end up eating there for some reason, to ask not to be seated in so-and-so's section. Thanks for listening. This is a great site, and the great stories people have are a joy to read. (Makes up for the wacky ones like this!)

                                                              6 Replies
                                                              1. re: jentami

                                                                How do you get to nearly $200 for two people at a restaurant in Simi Valley where the sides are included with the main courses and with no alcohol / wine as part of the dinner?

                                                                1. re: Servorg

                                                                  We like to try different things, and bf eats a lot! It was steaks, lobster, several appetizers, salads. Kind of surprising for a mall restaurant, but it all adds up. The place looked pretty crowded when we had seen it earlier in the week, and neither of us are from that area so we thought it looked nice and we would try it out.

                                                                2. re: jentami

                                                                  Wow. I can't believe you didn't speak up when you were seated near the bathrooms. I won't put up with that in an empty resto. And I would've called the manager after that "what do you mean?" question re: the wine. WTF? And then, I probably would've left.

                                                                  Tipping, as you see, is not even mentioned in my post. I cannot believe you tipped that bimbo. Lesson learned, I guess.

                                                                  1. re: jentami

                                                                    The minute you were served cold food, it was your right to not pay a red cent for your meal, in my opinion.

                                                                    1. re: jentami

                                                                      The bathroom table is typical and the jfoods are waaaay to old for someone the age of their daughter pulling that stunt. They simply follow the hostess and when she tries for "that" table they merely say, "We'll sit over there please." Never give the hostess an out on that nonsense. Do not phrase it as a question.

                                                                      Never ask for the manager, seek him/her out. Once you ask one of the table-people it's like watching a turtle with all the parts going into a shell for protection. And given the size of your order theis would have been done at table-jfood waaaaaay earlier than about the check time.

                                                                      And then there is the tip. You were toooooo nice. The server was basically rewarded for her crappy service, and you paid before seeing the manager. And you left 18%. So the manager did not hear about the problem until the check arrived, he sees you left an 18% tip and probably thought to himself, "hey they are just looking to cut back on the $200 tab." Not true but he sure had data the other way.

                                                                      Jfood suggests you gotta take action earlier than when the check has or is about to arrive. Too many customers wait til the last minute then spring onto the manager, all for the hopes of a comped something. Unfortunately people with real issues, as yours were, get broad-brushed into the "gimme something" bucket.

                                                                      Jfood is interested in whether you asked for something in your letter or just told them of the bad service, though.

                                                                      1. re: jfood

                                                                        Jfood, you are absolutely right about where we were seated. Usually we would ask for another table, and I don't know why we didn't that time.
                                                                        We considered asking for the manager earlier, but thought we would give the place the benefit of the doubt, and hoped for some great food. I think I could count on one hand the times where I had such bad service or food that I spoke to the manager about it. This manager seemed fairly clueless, so I could only speculate on what his response would be had we spoken to him earlier. We should have just left.
                                                                        As for the tip, we never leave less than 20-25% for good service, and if it is great, or our favorite server, then we like to thank them by being very generous. This girl deserved far less, but I would feel guilty leaving less than 15%, especially after having worked in restaurants, and having to split tips, etc.
                                                                        The food itself was not the issue, it was fine, but nothing special. We ate, so we paid, not really considering whether or not we would get anything comped. This was such an unusual experience that I don't think we knew what to do.
                                                                        The letter I wrote absolutely did not ask for anything, and it was certainly not a rant on the ill-mannered staff (although it could have been). I merely explained what happened, and how disappointed and angry we were with the shameful service. Even if she was having a bad day or whatever, no one should have to deal with that sort of poor treatment. I think it is important to let others know when they are doing a great job, and have written many letters thanking people for a wonderful time, job well done, fantastic product, etc. You would be surprised at the responses, because some don't take the time to say 'thank you'. It is always a bummer when you have to address a bad experience, but necessary nonetheless.

                                                                    2. I posted a bit further up, but after reading through this thread, I thought I might offer a couple tips from a server's perspective:

                                                                      1) It's generally a bad idea to ask the bussers for anything complicated, but it seems from these posts that it happens quite often. In my experience, most of them are working with a language barrier. There have been plenty of times where I have had a busser tell me what a certain table wants, but when I've dropped it off, it's been wrong. Most of the time, what servers have to do is get the message from the busser and then return to the table to confirm it, which can be very time-consuming. And while not all bussers struggle with English, they still haven't been trained as servers. I've had several English-speaking bussers give tables wrong items or menu descriptions by mistake. If you have a request, I would suggest waiting for your server to return or, at the very least, snagging a server from a different section.

                                                                      2) If something goes wrong while you're in the restaurant, SPEAK UP. Both the server and the restaurant itself benefits from your overall satisfaction. If you have a problem, I promise you that we WANT to hear about it, preferably while there's still a chance to fix it. Sometimes people call hours or days after they've dined with us to let us know that the food was cold, the order was wrong, or they were improperly charged. These are issues that are easily fixed (but much harder to remedy once people have left the restaurant), and instead of walking out of the building irritated or disappointed, these people could have walked out satisfied.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: Al_Pal

                                                                        Al Pal, I'm glad to see you agree that 20 is an indecent amount of time to wait for recognition, or for food between courses.

                                                                        Very good points from a server's perspective, again I agree. If I have ever contacted a busser, it was with instruction to get our server.

                                                                        I agree on speaking up, but then there's the odd restaurant that gives the proverbial 'shrug'. Because of that, I am loathe to contact management and have decided to simply not return to restaurants that are horrid.

                                                                        Due to the fact that there are SO many restaurants out there, waiting for me to return and waiting for me to try out, I simply cannot understand why the server or manager would fight with me over my experience in their establishment.

                                                                      2. Call the owner over it; hope you got the name of at least your server. I enjoy dining out with a book or a newspaper (corporate travel dictates I oftentimes dine alone). Sometimes I'm ignored. Once I was told that the establishment felt uncomfortable serving a "single" women (New Orleans). Another time, the waiter felt that serving one person was not worth the cost of soiling the linens (Mill Valley, California).