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Emeril's : not very friendly... (moved from Florida board)

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My family and I decided to try Emeril's restaurant at the CityWalk location in Universal Studios.

Mom and sis had chilean sea bass, and dad the pork chop (suggested by the waiter to be cooked medium)--- although we ended agreeing that it was a bit dry. The sauce saved it. I had the andouille encrusted red fish. The crust leaned towards the dry side and fishy tasting in some areas.
While my mom and sister had 'hits' my dad's and mine were 'misses'.
In addition the service- which started off superbly, ended on a sour note.

Here is what happened (in her words):
"Overall, our dining experience was pleasant, and service was professional. However, one particular waiter named George, ruined our evening by being very rude to me. My family was celebrating my sister's graduation, so I pulled George aside and asked him if he planned on doing anything special for her. He stared me in the face and bluntly responded, "No." I waited several moments to see if he was making a joke, but this expectation proved very wrong. Up until this point, he had been friendly to me in front of the rest of my family members, so his rude and dismissive response shocked and made me extremely uncomfortable. Prior to this, I had made the same request to another waiter, who acquiesced; however, no celebration occurred, which is why I approached George. I cannot fathom why George would treat me in such a poor, unprofessional manner. But just because I am the youngest in my family and am not the one paying the bill, does not mean I do not deserve fair and equal treatment just like every other patron at Emeril's. I came into Emeril's with high expectations for such a reputable restaurant, but was extremely disappointed. I hope that in the future, you ensure that all your staff is trained properly to respect every guest dining at Emeril's. I look forward to hearing your response soon."

Caine, the assistant manager, requested we contact him upon our return to Florida. I hope that when we do, the service will be friendly and respectable to all members of my family.

  1. At the risk of sounding like an ass here....why would George be aware of, and planning something for, your sister's graduation? If I'm looking for something "extra" from my experience at a restaurant, I let the staff know ahead of time. Perhaps there are some necessary tidbits of info missing from your description of the evening...but if I don't notify the staff of my wishes before the meal, I don't want them assuming what I want and don't want throughout the course of the evening.

    15 Replies
    1. re: matt21sz

      It's the attitude that makes the difference, at least that's what I get from sugarcube's post. I've certainly been to at least one restaurant I can think of that doesn't celebrate birthdays. But to be answered with a simple cold "no", being rude sand dismissive, is, well, rude. How hard is it to recogize that not every customer is aware of the restaurant's policy?

      1. re: matt21sz

        I'm with you on this one Matt21sz-- exactly what should the server have been planning to do "special"? It's more of a question of was something "special" ordered in advance and not received?

        I also think asking the server what he was going to do "special" borders on the rude. If nothing was ordered in advance, the question sounds of "what are you going to do free for us?" (sorry, but I don't think restaurants owe people free anything just because it's a birthday or other celebration -- if they CHOOSE to do something for a customer, it should be just that -- a choice -- not an obligation). The "He stared me in the face and bluntly responded, "No."" response, while not a sugar-coated response, doesn't seem so horrible to me: you asked for some undefined, non-pre-arranged "special celebration" and couched it in the manner of "what are you going to do?". There's a large difference between "what are you going to do for my sister's special day" and "it's my sister's graduation, may we order a special dessert for the table?".

        I think those horrid places with the sparklers and hand-clapping troupes of chanting/singing servers have skewed people's perceptions of what should be expected in a good restaurant.

        1. re: karmalaw

          Well said! I do not believe there is anything I can add to your comments.

          1. re: crazyspice

            ditto crazyspice. I echo karmalaw's post 100%. Why didn't you just go up to him and say, "What are you going to give us for free?"

          2. re: karmalaw

            >>I'm with you on this one Matt21sz-- exactly what should the server have been planning to do "special"?

            Asked sugarcube what he could do to make the occasion more special, given the limitations of not being notified in advance.

            The guy was a jerk.

            sugarcube, I hope you tipped him 0%.

            1. re: karmalaw

              to clarify: we were served by three people (they told us it would be like that)
              my sister told one of them that it was my graduation and he said that he would do something to commemorate the milestone. this waiter then informed George, and he went over to me (at the beginning of the evening) and even said 'so i hear you just graduated... congratulations'
              then
              when my sister posed the question ("are you going to do something...") to George after entrees were served, it was then that he coldly said 'no'. We weren't expecting freebees/ something for free', we've been to enough dining establishments to realise that the cost is added to the bill HOWEVER this is not the point... it is about the rude and cold attitude George had toward my sister.

              1. re: sugarcube

                Would you please spell out what you were expecting? I just don't get it.

                1. re: pikawicca

                  Exactly --there were congratulations by the wait staff -- what else were you expecting that they were specifically asked to do?

                  If there wasn't an item called "commemoration" on the menu, then someone needed to ask for something more tangible than "commemoration".

                  If you wouldn't merely reply "something" when a server came to take your order, then why assume that requesting "something" for a "commemoration" was going to bring anyone what they wanted?

                  I'd be cranky too if people expected me to serve them things but failed to specify what they wanted.

                2. re: sugarcube

                  huh? He DID do something! He came over and offered warm congratulations.....when you then asked if he was going to do something after he already HAD marked the occaison, I am pretty sure that he thought you were asking for a freebie.

                  And really, whether you realize it or not, you were asking for a freebie(IMO). Your sister didn't ask, 'Can we arrange something special?." she asked 'Are you going to do something?'. Regardless of your intent, I think, given that he had already done something, George thought you were asking for something for free. With good reason.

                  1. re: sugarcube

                    Ok. In light of this new info, whether or not your sister was asking for a freebie (and from George's perspective, it kind of sounds like she was), I can understand why George got into a snippy mood, but should have kept his feelings to himself. He should have just kept a big plastic smile on his face and handled the situation in a more professional and graceful manner.

                    1. re: Miss Needle

                      thank Miss Needle, regardless of 'free food' or not, it was not the point of my sharing the story.

                      "He should have just kept a big plastic smile on his face and handled the situation in a more professional and graceful manner."

                      It was his unprofessionalism and cold answer. ...and i realise that different restaurants operate differently, some may want to give you i.e. dessert for your celebration and others not (and i respect that). if emerils lies with the latter, rather than coldly say 'no' the waiter simply could have just told us so. getting something (at our expense or theirs) or not is not the point. we even were offered by Caine a sort of meal compensation for our troubles but we declined because it wasn't about that, it was about getting spoken to in a harsh manner-- and to not have it happen again.

                      and in response to 'why didn't you book in advance' the story behind that is, it was our last day in Florida and we wanted to end with a nice meal. We saw Emeril's and gave it a try and since my recent graduation lingered in my family's minds, they kindly wanted to celebrate.. but i had no idea we'd be under fire for a request.

                      1. re: sugarcube

                        Oh come on now, you weren't under fire. A waiter gave an answer that someone found too curt. Ok, that's a fair thing to think "hey, that wasn't so polite" about. But that's it. Show up at a restaurant, no reservation, ask for some sort of "celebration" out of the blue without specifying what you might like that to be, have otherwise "superb" service and the assistant manager attempt to rectify the too curt response by someone else....and out of all of that, somehow the whole place isn't friendly and you're extremely disappointed?

                        This is a mole hill.

                        1. re: sugarcube

                          >>It was his unprofessionalism and cold answer. ...and i realise that different restaurants operate differently, some may want to give you i.e. dessert for your celebration and others not (and i respect that).

                          Of course you're right. I would reacted in exactly the same way.

                          The guy was a jerk.

                          1. re: sugarcube

                            Since when is "no" harsh? Responding to your request with a "yeah right" or "are you kidding" would have been harsh, but not "no."

                      2. re: karmalaw

                        You got it- what if it was the waiter's birthday? What were you going to do for him?

                        They owe you abso-effing-lutely nothing in that regard. How did he even know you were telling the truth? Do you think waiting tables is such an easy job that the staff just sits around waiting for a customer to celebrate something so they can reach into their bag of freebies and give something away or sing a song?

                        I go way out of my way to avoid restaurants that do that kind of crap. If you want that kind of absurd spectacle, go to a place that is famous for it.

                    2. I'm on the restaurant's side on this one.

                      To blind side a waiter like this (in effect, demanding a freebie of some sort), in a restaurant (I'm assuming) they've never eaten at before & then calling down the management on him (while admitting that prior to this the service was "professional") is beyond rude in my opinion. I just hope the waiter doesn't get in any trouble. No mention was made of how busy the restaurant was at the time. Imagine a full house, the waiter is doing all he/she can to keep everyone served & then you get hit with this request out of left field. Now you have 2 seconds to respond!

                      The one time I've eaten at Emeril's, I found the service to be both professional & personable.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: cavandre

                        Sorry to pile on....But these folks are right!!......Going to Emeril's and expecting the wait staff to perform this kind of function without prior notice borders on inane....Emeril's is a fine dining establishment....I've dined at that particular location 4 times and each time was nothing less than oustanding.....If you were expecting the staff to put on a show....this isn't the place for that.....You're looking for that to happen at Chili's...Outback Steakhouse.....Tony Roma's....Perkins....The Clock....The Waffle House.....Bob Evans...etc., etc.......

                        EMac

                      2. Then there is the simple logical problem with this post...

                        1) "I asked him if he planned on doing anything special"

                        2) "I deserve fair and equal treatment just like every other patron"

                        Which is it?

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: CFByrne

                          I don't see a logical problem, but perhaps sugarcube can help us out.

                          I'm guessing that "But just because I am the youngest in my family and am not the one paying the bill, does not mean I do not deserve fair and equal treatment just like every other patron at Emeril's." refers to attitude, not restaurant policy. Obviously we were not there, but a simple & polite response may have made all the difference.

                          1. re: Richard 16

                            >>but a simple & polite response may have made all the difference.

                            That was my impression.

                        2. What type of arrangement did you make with the other waiter -- have a cake be brought out? Have the staff sing "She's a jolly good fellow?" Sounds like there was a miscommunication between that waiter and George and George never was aware of any celebration planned. He probably thought you were somebody who felt a sense of entitlement that because this was your sister's graduation that you guys were expecting a freebie or special treatment. And I'm sure George gets asked his quite often because it seems like a lot of people want something for nothing. But even if you were looking for a freebie (and it sounds like that wasn't the case), George should not have spoken to you or your sister (who are we talking about here? your post is a bit confusing) in that manner. Sorry you guys had to experience that. As a waiter, no matter how ridiculous a request may sound or how obnoxious a customer is, he or she needs to be polite to all of the customers, paying or not. But I don't think it really sounds like an age thing. I do think it's miscommunication.

                          And I haven't been to the Emeril's in Universal, but his one in Miami Beach really sucked. Service was fine, though. And the service and food at his New Orleans one was fine.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Miss Needle

                            Sorry Sugarcube, but I'm with those who wonder exactly what you were expecting George/the restaurant to do. Free cake? Singing? I think that his blunt "no" should have been followed up with an explanation from him as to why. I don't think his disrespect was in any way due to your age. I think you're making a mountain out of a molehill and this is a classic example of a knee-jerk reaction. Ultimately it was up to you, or your mother or father to request something "special" be done at the time your reservation was made.

                            1. re: Axalady

                              I'd agree with Miss Needle and Axalady on the principle that the restaurant should not be 'expected' to do anything in this situation unless it was arranged ahead of time. However.......... taking Sugarcube at face value, (and not having enough info to know how the exchange actually 'felt' as confrontational is it reads) I would have hoped that George might have said something more like: "I'm sorry. I wasn't aware that you had requested a celebration.[And depending on policy] It isn't our policy to provide something gratis, but I'd be happy to do add a dessert to your bill and/or do whatever we can at this point". Even if Sugarcube was out of line and showed some attitude, the server should always maintain control and be polite.

                          2. "Prior to this, I had made the same request to another waiter, who acquiesced; however, no celebration occurred "
                            What kind of celebration did you expect?

                            I don't know-- maybe this should have been a clue that it wasnt that kind of a place???
                            As I see it-- unless you called in advance-- mistake was yours.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: madisoneats

                              I would love to hear a tape of the conversation. Often what is written is not the way it's spoken--IOW perhaps the writer was a tad demanding when approaching George? We'll never know, but I spent a few years with someone whose interaction with waitstaff was never less than respectful and polite should one just read a transcription of their conversation. However, his condescension, by way of body language and tone of voice, came across loud and clear in person.

                              Not saying that's the case here, but food for thought, so to speak.