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Am I crazy/cheap? (Jacksontown OH)

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Diane in Bexley Jul 28, 2008 09:14 AM

After many, many years of patronizing Clark's Dining Room in Jacksontown, OH (Rts 13 & 40) we made another visit last evening on our way home from a day trip to the Hocking Hills. They serve a choice of one of 3 items (fried chicken, steak, ham) family style dinners with all the fixins' including homemade pie.for a set price. For a million years, this has been a "go-to" place for our family for fried chicken. Last night was a particular occasion because of high price gas, we haven't been doing lots of weekend day trips. Anyway, there were 3 of us and they brought out the salad which was fine, then the big platter of chicken, mashed potatoes, peas, corn, green beans. Frankly, the chicken was REALLY dry and salty. I commented on this to the waitress, who just shrugged her shoulders. I was unable to take more than 2-3 bites of my chicken breast, it was awful. I requested a single chicken thigh, thinking that dark meat couldn't be as dry as this stuff. Well, I was right, the thigh was perfect (obviously another batch). When the bill came, there was a $1.75 charge for the extra thigh or about 15% of the total meal price. My teenage daughter, always horrified if DH or I complain, absolutely wouldn't let me discuss the charge with the restaurant owner when we left. However, when he inquired as to what we thought of dinner, I did say the white meat was bone dry. We left the leftovers as no one wanted the bad chicken and only white meat was left. We know the owner fairly well. Am I crazy and cheap? I really don't think they should have charged us for a little chicken thigh, given the circumstances. Am I making something over nothing? The rest of my family thinks I am nuts. Please comment, thanks!

  1. k
    KyMikey Jul 29, 2008 07:51 PM

    I have been to Clark's 2 or 3 times while on my way back to Cincy. No, you were not out of line at all. You had every right (maybe even an obligation) to complain,first to the waittress, and then to the manager to make it right (comping you the replacement chicken at a minimum). I would have let the manager know that you have eaten there many times before without a problem and would "like to continue doing so." I would also have told him about the cold-shouldered waitress apparently not feeling "empowered to correct it" (possibly a manager problem also) If more people start singing the same tune, they will know where the problem is. Actually, no one leaves chicken behind at these places--pointing that out would be a REAL big clue that something was wrong. Good managers do damage control ASAP and don't have to be dragged kicking and screaming do act.
    You said you know the manager, so that might be a little different situation. If you didn't, tho, do you know what would REALLY have some impact nowadays in the computer age--sit down and take the time to write a good old fashioned (and respectful) letter to the manager (get his name before you leave--I always take a card with it at hotels and restaurants) Most people won't do this, but the ones who do are often disproportionately rewarded, plus he will know that you drove about 30 miles to be there and your comments will be in writing so they won't be misreported.
    Good luck. And thanx for the heads-up--this is often how Downhill Alerts get started.

    1 Reply
    1. re: KyMikey
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      franknagaijr Dec 19, 2008 10:31 AM

      We tried Clark's last summer, for the first time, after observing how crazy-full the parking lot often was. We were very saddened to pay a very high price for the fried chicken family dinners. The chicken was fine if nothing special, but all of the sides felt like they were made from powders and boxes. We clearly came in during the downward spiral?

    2. d
      donw9876 Jul 28, 2008 12:19 PM

      You were served substandard food and the restaurant did not make it right, so you did not enjoy the meal, and you were then charged for asking for a replacement for the substandard food.

      Actually, I can't believe that someone even has to ask about this in order to get validation. Good manners are one thing but don't be a doormat!! If the food was truly that bad and others at the table agreed, I would have demanded that the manager come out and hear about the experience.

      And I actually can't believe that when you told the owner about your meal, he didn't do something like offer to make a take out batch on the spot or give you credit for another meal. I

      Here's my own opinion: some popular "mom and pop" locally owned restaurants can become victims of their own success and brainwashed into thinking that they can do no wrong. They get lazy and arrogant.

      I'll be oblique and say that my wife and I have gotten some incredibly rude service and attitude at a certain "old hotel" restaurant in Germantown and a certain "lodge" restaurant near a lake on the outskirts of Wilmington - and both places are packed all the time. And I have complained about it at the time, and gotten just incredibly patronizing responses, which means that we have not been back.

      Maybe some of these places serve their good stuff to locals and serve the garbage to visitors they've never seen before because they think they have enough business, or they're rednecks and they actually resent outsiders.

      I tend to vote with my wallet, and I never have a problem with spreading the word about places that don't care if your meal and the service made you satisfied or not. If they only want to serve the local rednecks well, let 'em.

      2 Replies
      1. re: donw9876
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        Diane in Bexley Jul 29, 2008 05:12 AM

        Thanks Don! Truthfully, I let my DD talk me into not advising the owner on the spot about our bad meal. We are not usually door mats. It's not the small cost for the replacement, but the principle of serving well prepared food. This place used to be a stage coach stop on the National Road, still located in a rural area. We definitely did notice that there were very fewer folks patroniizing on Sunday than was normal. We attributed it to $4/gal gas. We will give them one more try, if that isn't worth it, then we will cross them off our list.

        1. re: Diane in Bexley
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          donw9876 Jul 29, 2008 12:54 PM

          I may have embellished my response with some personal bile from similar experiences elsewhere, but the fact remains that a small independent restaurant really needs to know if they're screwing up. They won't keep a business going for long if they neglect quality.

          The fact is that you deserve what you paid for, not lousy food because someone didn't want to bother making it right.

          It's also possible that they hit a snag that night. But another possibility is that if business is slow, they're keeping stuff under a warming lamp, which would explain the dry, tasteless chicken.

          My brother's family is in Newark and they want to take us to that place all the time, so I hope they have not gone off the rails for good.

      2. p
        pollymerase Jul 28, 2008 11:30 AM

        I don't find it too surprising that you were charged for the extra piece. It sounds like you had a poor/uncaring server and so they probably didn't put together the reason you order the extra piece. She probably didn't think of not putting it on your bill or notifying the manager of the situation so you could be comped. I'm guessing she just thought you wanted something additional and charged you accordingly.

        However, I'm willing to bet that had you said something to the manager/owner about the charge it would have been quickly removed with an apology.

        1. kcbluelion Jul 28, 2008 09:34 AM

          You're not crazy or cheap. You expect one thing and got another. On top of that, you expect good things from this place, have been there several times, and you know the owner.

          You should not have been charged. You gave it the old college try by eating the white meat, but you should not have been charged for the thigh. If, in the past, you were completely happy with the service and quality, it was probably more to do with the server rather than the owner. At the very least I would have told the owner about the server's attitude and then followed up with a question regarding policy on substitutions or additions.

          It's not you. Common sense dictates that they take responsibility for their product and sometimes that's more work than they want to do.

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