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Sad to say, bad service at John Andrews, Egremont, MA

It is with a sad heart that I wrote a letter to the GM of John Andrews with my "review" of my last meal at JA. Am I the only person that wonders why restaurants can't update their websites to reflect the current menu? :(

This is part of the letter I wrote to the GM:

This past Saturday I dined at John Andrews Restaurant with one of my best friends.We both look forward to our time in the Berkshires and based on my visit to JA last year, I made reservations for the both of us in anticipation of a nice night out. Unfortunately our visit did not live up to the hype I gave it and I want to express my displeasure to you.

We arrived about 5 minutes before our reservation and were promptly seated by the host that night. I was a little taken aback to our seat which was, for lack of a better term, near the “wait stand”. I noticed other couples in the other room at very nice tables and our table placement was less than ideal with people that had to visit the rest room and wait staff perched near our table as to be out of the way for the other tables. Still, I was not going to let our table deter us from a great meal.

When the server came back with our drinks, I asked if the warm mozzarella salad was available and she very rudely said “NO.”. OK fine, but did she have to be so mean about it? Isn’t it a compliment that that salad was so great last year that I wanted it again? Perhaps a “I’m so glad you enjoyed that salad and if I could suggest another salad” would have been so much more friendly. Did you know this salad is still on your website as part of the menu? In retrospect I see that the menu is your SPRING menu. Perhaps it would behoove you to keep the menu current for those of us who don’t come as often and do use it as a point of reference before we come to the restaurant. But in any case, we decided we would then split a small portion of the Ricotta Gnocchi and have the Sea Scallops and I would have the Hanger Steak.

I will say in general, the food was great. The focaccia bread was outstanding and the pasta was delicious. My steak was definitely more rare than I normally eat it and my friend’s scallops were definitely on the “under-done” side but at no point did anyone come over and ask us how our meals were! My friend had her bread plate cleared but I didn’t. And then she had her drink glass cleared but I didn’t, even though they were both empty at the same time. At this point, we were both getting annoyed about the service and being treated as if we were fixtures in the restaurant and not guests. So much so that we didn’t order dessert, which we were so looking forward to.

When our server came with the check, she just placed it down without so much as a thank you. And trust me, I was being super observant at this point because I was upset and after that, we decided we were DONE. I was going to express my displeasure to the host, but it’s not her fault. She was quite lovely as was the bread person and the person who gave us water never made us wait. They were excellent. I was very put off by the disrespectful attitude of the server.

I am in event planning and also have been in the hospitality industry for many years and I observe the behavior and service very closely. It is always apparent to me when a server seems “put out” because we don’t want or don’t order alcohol or a bottle of wine and then the service seems to dwindle after that.

I was embarrassed to have recommended this place so highly to my friend and also to many others. The type of service we received was unprofessional and doesn’t befit the quality of the food which is really wonderful. But even with such wonderful tastes, I still left JA with a sour feeling in my mouth and a sad feeling in my heart.

I hope you will call this attention to the appropriate staff member and that the service can match the food for those who will continue to enjoy it. I will not be one of those guests after my last experience.

So sad really. Niccole, I hope you continue to have great dinners there!

I will let you know if I hear anything from the GM based on my letter, which I just sent to him via email a few minutes ago.

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  1. Thanks for this. There have been a few mixed reviews lately. I have been recommending JA for a while, but will no longer be able to until I get there myself for a first hand report. A few others have had similar concerns- wonder what's up.

    1. Same here bf111, so please keep us all posted.


      1 Reply
      1. re: Harp00n

        It's really sad because I was so looking forward to my visit. :( But I will keep you all posted. :)

      2. I don't seem to see the problem here. Sure, it didn't sound like your server was overly friendly, but it doesn't sound "bad". I mean, is the clearing of your guest's glass/bread dish but not yours really that big a deal?

        Also, is it your place to say what the waitess SHOULD have said, WRT the salad? I mean, they didn't have it. She said so.

        And really, someone has to sit at the less desirable tables. If you weren't satisfied with the table, why didn't you speak up?

        I DO agree that the posting of last season's menu is flatout annoying and would bother me, too.

        1 Reply
        1. re: invinotheresverde

          Like I said, I understand that there are undesirable seats and the such but I guess I failed to say our server was nothing but nice to the guests that had wine, etc. To the point where my friend with me suggested we order something alcoholic and see if her mood changed. And I don't appreciate that she NEVER asked us how our meals were. Not as she served them (does everything look ok?), not a few minutes after, not after she picked up our plates to which I had over half of my meal left. I didn't want it wrapped up but she didn't even ask. I thought these were lapses in the service but her attitude was more annoying than anything.

        2. Great report Foodie!
          I've been a JA fan since Nicole told us about the place years ago.
          Fortunately we've never had the experience you just had.
          Personally I would have said we wanted different seating from the time you saw seating you didn't like.
          If the place wasn't crowded I'm sure you would have gotten better seating.
          As for the service there is not much to say.
          You got "sub-par" service and you didn't like it.
          At least the food was excellent.
          Personally when the sevice is that bad I either let the waiter/waitress/owner know andI cut the tip drastically.
          T-I-P- means "to insure promptness " and if the service was bad you cut the tip.
          I usually tip 20%-25% all the time but I've walked out leaving no tip at all(Zinc in Lenox) when the service was just plain awful and no one did anything about it.
          Please keep us informed about what response you get from the GM.
          I would have tried to talk to the GM at the time this all took place.
          Waiting like this,after the fact,has less of an impact than a confrontation at the time of the lousy service,ect.
          You probably didn't"want to make waves" with your friend there and all,and I can understand this.
          My wife gets embarrassed when I make a stink about lousy food or service but,hey,I'm paying for good food and good service and if either is not up to par someone has to hear about it.
          It's your obligation to tell someone about it and I'm glad you told us all about it here!
          Thanks again---
          Appreciative Catnip

          2 Replies
          1. re: invinotheresverde

            And I should reiterate that after my question about the salad on their website menu and the cold "NO" I received, there was not one more word spoken to us the entire night. She came and brought the meal and the check and that was it. I also don't need a fake friendly person but SOME communication would have been nice. Had I not had another experience which was positive, I probably wouldn't have been so critical but I guess I was "spoiled" with my first visit to JA and I expected my second visit to be just as nice, and it really wasn't.

            1. Sad to hear about your experience with the poor service.

              I've been to JA about 3 or 4 times the past few months and have had good experiences, though I have noticed a few inconsistencies. The service is sometimes amateur and some servers have an air of snittyness, but we try to engage them and often have a great experience with them.

              As for the food, I absolutely love their fried oyster salad, however, one of the 3 times I ordered it, the oysters weren't cleaned properly and grayish slimey stuff oozed out. I guess it depends who's in the kitchen on the night you go. I had a fabulous softshell crab dish recently and my hubby likes the huge pork chop though I found it a bit tough.

              I still love JA but I don't go expecting it to be perfect. Some evenings they're at the top of their game and some not, so I can't explain it. The desserts are always wonderful though. Oh, and they have a great winelist -- we've discovered some excellent ones at JA.

              1. I had a great experience this past week at JA. We were first taken to a table up front but asked to sit in the back near the big window. No problem. Had a better then great meal and terrific service by everyone. Can't wait to get back next year - -

                1. My husband and I went to John Andrews in late August ... maybe we were there the same night, because we had a poor experience, too. We sat in the other room, and we would have liked our table, but we were surrounded by obnoxious and loud people. One table was full of really pretentious and loud people, and my husband was ready to tell them to shut up. Next to us, a man and woman sat, and she was raising her voice, practically in tears, telling him (not sure if he was her married lover or her husband) he doesn't respect her and that she was not going to tolerate it anymore. Oh for God's SAKE. Take it outside, we're paying an arm and leg for this food. Aside from all THAT, our waitress was rude. It took forever for her to come 'round and take our orders. Ugh. And the food was not memorable. I mean, it wasn't awful, but it was not memorable. That's all I have to say, other than the fact that we won't be returning.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Frau Weisburgunder

                    wow - that is so funny that you say that because my friend and I commented on the loud level of noise and I am remembering a very "awkward" couple that looked like they didn't belong together...I couldn't quite place it but after your explanation, it seems to make more sense.

                    Sadly, I never received a response from JA. I won't be returning either but look forward to always being back in the Berkshires.

                    1. re: bostonfoodie111

                      I have been to John andrews three times. Each time, the food has been sensational. The service has been very uneven. I've had two servers who were great, knowledgeable and pleasant, and one who simply acted annoyed that I was there. That same night, I had a less-desirable table as well, and was just never treated well. I remain astonished as a single woman traveller by restaurants which permit servers to tell the specials in great detail to tables with more than one person, especially with at least one man at the table, and turn around and make the single woman at the next table ASK about specials - this is what happened to me on that visit to JA. I was not asked if I wanted dessert. The bill was plonked down on my table, and NO ONE said "thank you." The food has always been wonderful, enough to perhaps continue to warrant a visit, but to write a detailed letter as you did and get NO response is just inexcusable.

                      1. re: sophie fox

                        bostonfoodie im sorry for your experience! the last time i went to JA was in may and the food was wonderful, but like you said- the service was terrible. i was NOT aware the mozz salad wasnt on the menu??!! thats a sad, sad thing. im sure i will get a GC for the holidays, so i will report back when i go. on a side note- i went to the new 20RR when they first opened and it was a nightmare and i wrote a very detailed letter ( i mean start to finish absolute worst ever) and i got a call from one of the owners a week later- they fired the server and gave me a $100 GC to come back!

                        1. re: niccole

                          hi Niccole! Glad to see you here! :) Wow - let me know how 20RR is the next time you go. It wasn't open when I was there is summer but I'll look forward to hopefully going to it! Happy Thanksgiving!!

                      2. re: bostonfoodie111

                        I wouldn't be shocked if it were the same couple. They were very "awkward," and it definitely looked like they didn't belong together, as you put it. But I agree about the Berkshires in general. We'll definitely return ... there are plenty more restaurants for us to try. We're happy, however, that we're not the only ones who felt that way about JA!

                    2. I am sorry for your experience at JA's. One thing people must understand about the Berkshires. It is fairly rustic here. The young people move out as soon as they can, for the most part. It is VERY difficult to staff a fine restaurant with Professional wait staff, by that I mean people who make a career out of waiting tables. I personally know of three individuals who have moved from the Berks to either NYC or Beantown to continue a career as a waiter/server. This does not exempt a restaurant from having high standards and well trained wait staff but it might shed light on the root of "bad server experiences" in the Berkshires. As for summer dining in The Shire..... ask any local and they have at least one story about the boorish behavior of either tourists or second home owners.

                      13 Replies
                      1. re: Lenox637

                        I guess it's possible for a restaurant to have trouble maintaining professional staff, but I'm not all that sure that I understand. If the "young people" are just looking for a way out, why not hire older people - who often make outstanding waitstaff?
                        I'm not at all sure what the locals' tales of "boorish tourists or second home owners" has to do with this particular discussion. Care to clarify? Thanks.

                        1. re: sophie fox

                          Part of the discussion was over hearing the lurid details of the dining parties seated nearby. The 21 and under crowd think that waiting tables is an easy dollar. Most older folks, that I know, either burned out in the restaurant industry or don't want the later nights that serving requires.

                          1. re: sophie fox

                            That sounds like a little thing called ageism, although it'd be reverse ageism in this case. There are good (and bad) waiters of all ages. You really can't hire based on age.

                            1. re: invinotheresverde

                              I never said any body was hired because of their age, I myself am 40 ish and have friends ranging from the early 20's on up. I have been in and around the Berkshire food industry since I washed dishes at 13 in a local restaurant. Times have changed, growing up in the Berks I , and those I knew, naturally gravitated towards restaurant work, so it is of no surprise that when I talk to my older friends, they say it is just a little too much for them now. Unfortunately the younger people have been coddled growing up and have not learned the satisfaction of a job well done and money earned by their own sweat. I don't think that there is any ageism there.

                              1. re: Lenox637

                                Um, see that little "re:sophie fox" note in the upper right hand of my post? I wasn't talking to you, Lenox.

                                1. re: invinotheresverde

                                  Uh, yes you were "talking to" Lenox637, since my comment about "young people" was in reference to Lenox637's statement "The young people move out as soon as they can, for the most part" in the post to which I replied - hence my QUOTES around the phrase "young people." So, yes, the first mention of age possibly being an issue was Lenox637's. NOR was my reply "ageism" or "reverse ageism" - and I don't know that Lenox637 was making any sort of disparaging remark by saying that "young people are looking to move on." It COULD merely be a fact, as might my reply that if that's the case, perhaps they could hire older, more experienced waitstaff who AREN'T interested in moving on.

                                  However, Lenox637's reply that "unfortunately the younger people have been coddled growing up and have not learned the satisfaction of a job well done and money earned by their own sweat" is a huge generalization and certainly ageist.

                                  All of this is little more than an end run around the fact that several of us have had poor experiences with service at JA. I could care less about the age of servers. It is the restaurant's responsibility to have professional staff, period. The buck stops there, period. Given the excellence of the food, it's a shame that the management isn't up to the same standard.

                                  1. re: sophie fox

                                    I was referring to this comment directly, "why not hire older people?".

                                    Hiring based on age is most certainly illegal. And again, there are good and bad waiters of all ages.

                                    1. re: invinotheresverde

                                      That's not the point at all. My comment was in response to the point made by Lenox that "younger people are looking to get out as soon as possible." The point is hiring the best qualified people, regardless of age or any other factor. Surely it's not "illegal" to hire someone who intends to be in the area rather than someone who intends to leave soon?
                                      Last time I checked, it was not "illegal" but actually good business practice to hire people who have a higher level of commitment. No one has said or even implied in any way "younger persons need not apply."

                                      1. re: sophie fox

                                        People can have a "higher level of commitment" at any age. People can "intend to be in the atea" at any age. People can "intend to leave soon" at any age.

                            2. re: sophie fox

                              I know exactly what they're talking about when they say "boorish tourists," although we were tourists there. I think these particular tourists we sat next to were from New York. They were very pretentious, talking about prep schools for their little kids. They were really loud ... and to be fair, that's not JA's fault.

                            3. re: Lenox637

                              I've been going to the Berkshires every summer for 18 years and just like the restaurants and other businesses, some stay and some go. It's always disappointing to me to go to an old favorite and just have rotten service. Perhaps if I lived in the area I'd tend to forgive a little easier but knowing that the summer is the height of the season in the Berkshires you'd think the owners would put a little more care. I'm really surprised that no one even ever responded to my email. Unfortunately a situation that might have been rectified is now unresolvable and I really won't ever go back. :( a sad day.

                              1. re: bostonfoodie111

                                I used to work in S. Berkshire County for a small food purveyor. JA's has always gotten high marks from myself and the other foodies I know. The lack of decent help, and help that are willing to take instruction and follow through are sorely lacking. I'm amazed that you didn't get a response to your e-mail and considering the circumstances, i don't blame you for not returning. Thankfully we are blessed to have a smattering of top notch restaurants to choose from here.

                                1. re: Lenox637

                                  I have eaten dinner at the bar at JA a few times this fall and fnd the service there to be fine. The menu is broader as well as it includes a bar menu as well as the regular one. The quality of the waitstaff in the Berkshires is, in general, subpar, particularly the younger ones. Given the prices and the tips, one would think that a professional could make a reasonable living but I think the summer and weekend only volume is not matched off season weeknights. I find the better waitstaff to be the older folks (Egremont Inn, the now closed Elm Court) but they are not the "beautiful people" found at the trendier places.


                              6 Replies
                              1. re: marciap

                                I've got agree with you maricap.
                                We've been to JA dozens of times and we've never had a bad meal or bad service ever.
                                Of course we usually arrive around 5pmish when they open and the staff is usually raring to go and the place isn't crowded yet but we've eaten there as "late " as 7PMish(we have to drive back to our place in Lee).
                                We've dined at the bar when the bar wasn't crowded and the bar staff was great also.
                                I agree 100% that summer help isn't as good---usually---as regular staff.
                                I would think that summer staff would want to work hard to make some good tip money for college or high school expenses however;I know I worked extra hard summers for those extra bucks myself---LOL!
                                You would think that the summer crew would be outstanding in most places but that doesn't seem to be the case from what I've seen of summer staff these past few seasons.

                                1. re: catnip

                                  I thoroughly agree... I have NEVER received anything but the most professional service at JAs as well. We go there 4-5 times a year during all seasons and have never encountered any issues with food or service.

                                  1. re: Lenox637

                                    I am moved to offer my theory of "restaurant karma," as I know that several posters (especially Lenox637) and I fenerally share opinions of Berkshire restaurants. But not in this instance.
                                    So here goes: for mysterious reasons, some people LOVE some restaurants and always have outstanding food and stellar service there, but NEVER have outstanding food or stellar, or even okay, service in other restaurants.
                                    So it is for us and John Andrews. Many of our friends swear by it, it is their FAVORITE restaurant. We have even gone with those friends occasionally. For us, John Andrews simply doesn't work. Whenever we go, it's an off night. So we don't even try to go anymore, and don't assign blame. There is simply bad restaurant karma between us!
                                    We stick with our "good karma" restaurants (which include Brix and Fin and Haven and the late much-lamented Dragon) but are very cautious about recommendations, because who knows? our good karma may be your bad karma.

                                    1. re: BerkshireTsarina

                                      Actually, I was at John Andrew's last night (Monday). It was packed because the word was that it was closing forever today. The truth is that the restaurant is closed until Friday; and, then business will continue as usual. The staff was making EVERY effort to service their tables. When we were seated, I realized we would have to wait a few minutes until our server got a drink order; that was not because they were standing around eating bon bons; it was that every table was full...in fact...they never STOPPED running. If I see a server is doing his or her job, I am totally understanding that I have to wait my turn. Despite the craziness, we got great service and great food. We are thrilled that Danny will be around a bit longer.

                                      1. re: AikiLou

                                        I was there with friends a few weeks ago and had a totally enjoyable meal. The food was excellent and the service was perfect. I think I had the same table as the OP and I agree with marciap that the table location is a positive, not a negative.

                                        1. re: chowmensch

                                          My wife and I have been to JA several times over the last few years (generally over the summer, but at least once during the holidays), although not the summer of '09. The service has never been bad, but it has never been good enough to live up to the type of restaurant JA purports to be. More importantly, the food has never lived up to the billing. One memorable example of this was a new riff on a lobster cassoulet everyone on here raved about, but which I found bland, lacking much lobster and, thus, overpriced. Nor do I buy the "summer is not a good indicator" argument; summer is the prime season in the Berkshires and other restaurants manage to pull it off without rude service. Maybe it is the Karma thing, as suggested above. But maybe JA is just not as great a restaurant as some of the reviews on here would have you believe.