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Why did you Break-Up with a Favorite Restaurant?

Over the years they were your “go to” place for a good meal in the neighborhood, to pick up a pizza, get your bagel & coffee or to carry out your favorite ethnic food. The owner/chef/manager/staff knew you by sight if not by name. You were a loyal customer and used to sing their praises. They were independent and local, not part of a dreaded chain.

At some point, you had to break-up with them. Not for economic reasons, but because something else wasn’t working for you anymore. It was a conscious decision, almost as hard as breaking it off with your hairdresser or a decent boyfriend or girlfriend. For your own good, the relationship had to end! You’ll still miss the old favorite restaurant or at least you’ll miss their glory days, the convenience, the comfortable feeling you got & finding their replacement won’t be easy, but it has to be done.

There’s been a lot of mention of the importance of supporting small, independent restaurants during this economic crunch. While I agree, it also got me thinking about other reasons that customers break-up with an old favorite. Perhaps the menu hasn’t evolved over the years or the atmosphere is no longer appealing or maybe the service & food have gotten inconsistent. What was it that made you decide to break-up with an old favorite restaurant?

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  1. They allow smoking and have no windows. I eventually realized that that was simply a dumb combination for me as a non-smoker to spend time in.

    It is, though, irreplaceable....but that's OK.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ccbweb

      so too is your health irreplaceable :)

    2. oh man, this is one of the most heartwrenching moments for me!!! Usually its caused by a serious change(chef leaving, menu 180, severe price increase or quality decrease) that never gets addressed by the establishment. You know, you ask why the food is different and all you get is blank stares, as to say "what EVER do you mean???" . If they would just be honest and say " we had a change of chef, and we are going to be trying some new dishes....hope you will give us a chance to keep your business" I would be ecstatic.

      the other being if i get sick......more then once. that is not an accident, that speaks volumes about whats going on behind the curtain.

      1. They lost their edge and stopped caring about the food they served and the service they provided.

        1. I had a baby. I know, I know not all restaurants should be child friendly, but when I showed up with my sleeping infant, for a late lunch, along with two friends, and the place was practically empty, they could have not glared at me. They knew me by name, but the idea that I brought a baby into their place just rankled them. Okay, so they don't have high chairs, she was in the infant carrier and I was fine with setting that on a chair or the floor.

          They made me so very uncomfortable. My daughter was a gem, and slept silently through the entire meal. If she had made a fuss, we would have left immediately, but she didn't.

          Anyway, husband and I have not been back, even for a "date night". They just made me so uncomfortable.

          1. I hate to say it, but raising prices. When dinner entrees start out at $12-18, I can handle it. Now they are $20-32, and that takes it out of our repertoire. At that price range, there's better food in our area.

            Smoking is another. There is one place we love that we will go to early in order to avoid the smoke later on. Most other places that allow smoking in the dining room just don't have good enough food to justify it.

            1. When the price went up dramatically and some of the slices didn't even have ANY toppings on them!!! Ciao, sweetie!

              1. When a couple of the busboys asked to come into the restaurant before it opened and shot three waiters dead and almost killed a forth (who lived to identify them.)
                It wasn't the restaurant's fault, but the charm was gone. And although our favorite waiters weren't killed, their friends were and our favorites left for other cities.

                1. As far as I can remember (maybe this includes too many things, as my memory is failing rapidly), I have never "broken up," only moved away. Some have survived, in my absence, and we've had wonderful reunions. Some are gone, and I am still saddened by the departure of most of these.

                  As I told them all, "it's me - not you!"

                  Did have one in Phoenix, where we still live, that wow'ed us early on. Chefs changed, the corporate pressure came down hard, the sommelier changed (do not know where they got the replacement, but should have sent him packing on day one) and things just went way downhill. Since they were on top of a mountain, there was a lot of "downhill." They were never a favorite, but were pretty good. Had a "candidate dinner" there, and the new sommelier was a real prig. We immediately canceled the next two dinners and moved them elsewhere. The tab for that party was US$3800. Amazing what a bad sommelier can do to a restaurant...

                  Nah, they really don't count, as they were never in that rarified position, that you talk of. Those, well like I said, "it's me - not you."

                  Interesting thread. Wish I had more to add to it.


                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                    Oh Hunt! "It's me - not you?"

                    That's the standard excuse when breaking up with a decent person where the relationship just isn't working. It's always a little bit of me & a little bit of you. As far as a restaurant goes, even if it was just you, there was something not working anymore. You may not have completely dumped them but maybe they had become more of a "booty call" of dining. They were no longer a regular haunt and had been delegated to a position where you only went when it was convenient and easy.

                    You always have great insight & I know you have more to add....

                    1. re: oldbaycupcake

                      For me, it was the prospect of a "long-distance" relationship. A thousand miles is just too far to go on a regular basis.

                      Now here, one did recently fall way down the list, though not off. Chefs came and went then the newest chef-owner began to concentrate on developing a "restaurant concept," and we though evreything suffered from lack of attention. Nothing was bad, and the prices did not go up any more than others in the area. Portions remained about the same, but nothing was quite right any more.


                  2. Prices went up, quality went down. There was a big crawling bug in the salad!

                    1. When I lost my beloved husband 4 years ago I also lost all of our favorite restaurants. I just can't bear to go back to the places where we enjoyed ourselves. I've had to find new places, but I rarely eat out any more.

                      2 Replies
                        1. re: Catskillgirl

                          well, in their defense, did it say there was a bug in your salad?LOL.....some places charge extra for such fresh ingredients!?

                        2. I used to go to a charming little place in the Lincoln Square neighborhood of Chicago. It had a quirky little menu, and my favorite meal was frequently 1/2 dozen oysters and an order of macaroni and cheese, with a Manhattan before and a glass of red wine during. they played great jazz and made their own ice cream. Then one day they remodeled the front entrance; the lighting got brighter. Then the flat screen TV went in above the bar, and the waitresses got cuter and the specials changed from blue cheese stuffed olive martinis to MGD. I don't know if they were bought out, or were trying to cash in on the yuppification of the neighborhood, all I know is that my little local became a sports bar. It was sad.

                          1. It was due to a literal change in ownership followed by complete staff turnover.

                            I ate there every morning (sometimes again for lunch), almost every day of the week, for eight years. One morning, I simply couldn't take the lack of attention the new servers were "providing." I wrote A Letter explaining my dissatisfaction and stopped going. I've gone back infrequently (usually solo since I _know_ how SWMBO feels about this particular business) to see if things might've improved but after each visit have thought, "Nope, still sucks."

                            On my last visit, I brought along Daughter-unit Beta, a budding foodie, and we were terribly unimpressed. In a virtually empty restaurant, we waited to be seated, we waited for tea and coffee (Beta went in search of the hostess that promised us a cup of each), we waited for our order to be taken (waitress was taking her break), and when our food finally arrived, I called the manager over and pointed at our dishes and walked out.

                            That will be the last chance for this place. The relationship is closed. (And, yes, I'm very bitter.)

                            1. Roaches. The first time I didn't notice that I was being watched from the wall until I was paying the check. Second time there was one in the rest room. Third time, I spoke to the owner to explain why, regretfully, I wouldn't be coming back. She was very apologetic, blaming them on the flophouse upstairs. She said she had complained to the building owner, that they sprayed regularly, and invited me to inspect the kitchen. All that was probably true, but didn't change the fact that they had an ongoing insect problem.

                              1. The seasons changed and our favorite waiter left. My husband and I would go to our favorite BYOB place down the block from our apartment every Friday for lentil soup. When our favorite waiter left to work in their other restaurant in another restaurant and the weather started to get too warm for lentil soup, we stopped going there

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: MrsT

                                  It was a combination of things that occurred within a very short period of time. I witnessed a waiter becoming overtley sexual with a waitress who did not welcome the sexual advance. In my company that's grounds for easy rapid termination. Then the food quality got way bad and I found hair in my food. I noticed the kitchen staff had no head coverings. The manager blew that off. On top of it the manager who was very lazy began boasting of the high quality food in the restaurant. He compared his restaurant to world class restaurants. I had no choice but to laugh him off of the floor and never came back. The restaurant closed one week later.

                                2. for years the jfood supported a resto in town as it opened, then grew and then thrived. and they were there for the bad, the better and then the best. Bust when the best really took hold, jfood could never get a table. The prices rose, the tables got closer and the times jfood could get a table became further apart.

                                  In the beginning, never a problem, in the middle never a problem. Now always a problem to get a table.

                                  So like many a children's story, jfood moved on.

                                  1. A cockroach floating in my take-out soup ended a long relationship with a friendly neighborhood Chinese restaurant. When I brought the soup back to show the manager, he was mortified and offered to replace it. Had to tell him face to face, with deep regret, that we were through.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Miss Priss

                                      At least he offered. The "neighborhood Chinese restaurant" my friends and I ate at frequently (aka "cheap Chinese") had great food and was fairly inexpensive. The last time we ate there, there was no cockroach that I was aware of but the service was awful. We had been eating there for about 15 years +/-. We sat at a table and were ordered to move to another table to accommodate a party of four. Sure, but why not ask the man sitting by himself at the table for four???? It went down hill from there. Crispy noodles for all tables but not for us??? Fortunately, I've put most of the evening out of my mind. I do remember we were very sad when we left knowing it was the last time.
                                      Every so often, when someone in my area posts a request for an American style Chinese place, I remember not to recommend that place.

                                    2. Had a fave mexican seafood restaurant and went there probably 100 times--awesome fresh seafood, excellent ceviche--every dish was outstanding. The clientele was a little rough, but never bothered me. Then they had their third shooting. When I went back they had raises their prices by 1/3rd. A mexican beer was $4.50-- I think they were trying to weed out the rougher element from their clientele, but the restaurant was empty now. I went to a new mexican seafood restaurant one day, and translated for a gal at the next table that didn't speak spanish. And that was when I met--Ricardo. He was the owner , and treated me like a queen after that. Free flan, free drinks--really special treatment in a restaurant with equally awesome ceviche.
                                      Blame it on Ricardo! :>

                                      1. When I heard the chef-owner verbally abusing the kitchen workers one night. The door to the kitchen was open as we walked to the parking lot behind the restaurant. I asked around the community and found out this particular chef-owner was rather well-known for his abuse.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: maria lorraine


                                          That sound like an episode from Ramsey's "Kitchen Nightmares." I understand completly. Luckily, I've never witnessed such.


                                        2. We used to frequent a breakfast/lunch place, but the music chased us away. Not live music, but the piped-in targeted-to-least-offend music. It was relatively loud and when we realized one day that both of us were thinking "please bring the check so we can escape this dreck," we decided never to return. Silly, I know.

                                          1. when i tasted the tin from the can the enchilada sauce came from

                                            1. Living in Chicagoland with so many restaurants to choose from, I am pretty quick to let places go if they do any of the following:

                                              1) continually screw up orders
                                              2) change ownership, and the food changes in quality
                                              3) current ownership starts cutting corners on menu items
                                              4) continual bad service

                                              1. There's a place that some friends of mine have been deeply in love with for years. I, and some other friends of mine, have recently broken up with it due to severe lack of service. Service at lunch was always achingly slow. And it wasn't the kitchen backed up--it was the servers taking forever to acknowledge a table, or bring a check. Their service at night has also gone down the tubes. The kicker is that they're rarely ever busy anymore.

                                                Then, their a/c seemed to be out all summer. And there weren't any windows to open.

                                                I'm giving the place six months.

                                                1. My friends and I have been regulars at 1849 in Manhattan since at least 2003. And now that football season is around, we were pumped to be able to indulge in their wings and beer special while watching our favorite team. At kickoff we tried to flag down our waitress to switch off the music so we could hear the game. Unable to get her attention, we walked over to the bartender who said she'd see what she could do. After a touchdown with no sound, the bar started getting antsy and started chanting "turn it off," referring to the music. Eventually the music went off (to cheers), but came back on after about 5 minutes (to boos and groans). Annoyed, we asked the waitress to shut off the music since it was clear most of the bar was there for the football game, not late 90s hits by Hole. She said she couldn't; management's policy was to play only music after 7pm. Another table was flabbergasted by a policy that was clearly opposed by most of the patrons and asked to talk to the manager. They wanted to know why a sports bar and grill would refuse to play sound on a game night. Four times they reminded the waitress they wanted to see a manager. Four times she walked away while the bar slowly emptied of pissed off patrons.

                                                  Running out of tables to serve, the waitress finally found the time to flag down an older man, pointing in the direction of the complaining table. The man looked at the table, muttered something to her and walked away. The waitress returned to the table to tell them that the manager wasn't in. So they asked to speak with whomever was in charge, but according to her no one was in charge once the manager left and anyway, the manager would not change his mind on this. She spoke to the absent manager? Um, she had to call him, which he wasn't happy about. Well if he's out, why not just turn on the sound while he's none the wiser? Well, no, when she called him, he said not to turn off the music and he locked the sound system in his office when he left anyway so she was powerless to turn off the music. Frustrated by this exchange, the table left. But offended by what was clearly lying, I asked the waitress if the man who had spoken to her earlier was the manager. She admitted he was. I explained to her that the customer service that night had been appalling and demanded to see the manager myself. She informed me of the manager's other policy: he doesn't talk to customers. He's not just the manager, he's also the owner she now explained. Not certain if she was lying to us yet again we opted to leave the restaurant for good. As we walked out the door, we heard the manager (and alleged owner) chewing out the bartender from earlier: "I make the decisions around here. Not you. Me."

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: JungMann

                                                    > As we walked out the door, we heard the manager (and alleged owner)
                                                    > chewing out the bartender from earlier: "I make the decisions around
                                                    > here. Not you. Me."

                                                    That'd been the perfect cue for, "I'll be just a minute; I seem to have forgotten something." And as the "manager" turned, he'd have seen me. I have an extreme dislike of cowards and bullies, of which this guy is both. And since the relationship was done as of that point, nuking the bridge would've been worth it.

                                                  2. The owner, who was a constant presence in the place's early years, has been MIA for a very long time. I don't remember the last time we saw him; he apparently puts most of his energy into catering (and I've read some scathing reviews of their catering). The original and impeccable wait staff has all moved on, replaced by interchangeable young "no-problem-you-guys" waiters. The menu hasn't changed in years, the food seems tired (if that makes sense), and there is no longer anyone to provide helpful wine suggestions. The "new" location is only four or five years old, but it already looks down at the heels. There are many more choices of interesting restaurants in our area than there were when this place first opened. Sadly, there's no good reason to go there anymore. But once we had a beautiful relationship....

                                                    1. Bottle of red wine served hot -- not room temp -- as it was stored by the kitchen. We like our red slightly chilled but usually tolerate room temp, but hot? Not so much.

                                                      So much chef turnover the food suffered and now lacks any imagination at all at a place known for imaginative food. Had to wonder why so many chefs left so quickly.

                                                      1. The long-time owners retired. The new owners cut corners and replaced all of the staff. This has happened a couple of times.

                                                        1. The owner was miserable to his staff and didn't appreciate them, berating people in front of customers. The chef left, the kitchen still did a great job but the restaurant went through 6 chefs in 6 months. Once my favorite bartender walked out that was it!. So now I go to 2 new restaurants, the one the original chef moved on to and the one the bartender moved on to, so I didn't lose out but the restaurant I left did.

                                                          1. My favorite bakery changed the recipes to almost all of their pastry items, and dropped some long time favorites when two other locations for the bakery opened and they wanted to "standardize" their offerings. I used to go there several times a week. I still go back on rare occasion, hoping they'll change some things back. I'm still waiting.

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: Non Cognomina

                                                              <sigh> That happened to a wonderful patisserie near my home. The original owners sold it to a group. The new group then tried to follow the recipes, at least for a while, then changed every one of them to "provide uniformity to their products." (And couldn't understand why customers would come back and complain.) Don't muck wit' da cake, man!

                                                              1. re: Non Cognomina

                                                                Non Cognomina, we're in the same neighborhood...is this Model Bakery in St. Helena?


                                                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                  Nope, the one in Yountville....But the Model has been spotty, too.
                                                                  Yep, we're in the same neighborhood.

                                                              2. They started to become unreliable.

                                                                We would come to eat and they would be closed even though posted hours said they were open. Eventually, we started going to another place we knew would be open when they said they would. Why try to outguess them.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: lgphil

                                                                  >>We would come to eat and they would be closed even though posted hours said they were open. Eventually, we started going to another place we knew would be open when they said they would.

                                                                  Especially with higher gas prices.

                                                                2. Change in ownership to people who seemed eager to cash in on a clientele rather than keep them.

                                                                  One local chinese resto that I ordered from about once a week served me twice cooked pork that was neither twice cooked or even perhaps pork. No flavor or recognizeable components of the dish I had been very satisfied with from previous visits. Sorry new owners, you may be the closest place to me, but I'll try some others now.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Scrapironchef

                                                                    Has anyone ever seen vast improvements when there is new ownership? With new ownership, I would expect them to want to make improvements, put their own spin on things and always hope that those changes are for the better, but it doesn't seem to be typical.

                                                                    1. re: oldbaycupcake

                                                                      It's pretty much a downhill alert. Realistically though, if the new owners make it that much better it was probably so bad you weren't going to it before.

                                                                  2. There is this little family owned Italian place in my hometown. The pizza is fantastic, the pasta dishes are sublime and the building this restaurant is in makes for a great setting. The problem is that the staff in this restaurant makes you feel like you are an inconvenience. The restaurant is family run and I know that a lot of the family work there so there aren't any real consequences for poor service and bad attitudes.

                                                                    At first I just started getting my food to go and eating in the comfort of my own home but I got to a point where I just didn't want to be treated poorly when I was a customer in an establishment. I will never go back, and it dissappoints me because their food really is great.

                                                                    1. I have had a number of restaurants where quality declined to the point of no-return.

                                                                      One was a local Japanese place that went from downhill. It used to be way above average. Then the original owner sold the place to her head chef. That wasn't so bad for several years. Things got a little less well run, the very good sushi chef was let go and the main chef started slicing fish (not nearly as expertly!). But, it was still the best in this area of the city.

                                                                      Then they expanded and opened another couple locations and ran it like a franchise and the quality declined much, much more. Then, they moved across the road, shrunk in size, started advertising an AYCE menu, and made BAD food. I haven't been back.

                                                                      There have been a number of other break-ups over declining quality. But, none of those were places that were as close to my heart.

                                                                      I have also broken-up over being taken advantage of. There have been a couple of places where I was a regular and on more than one occasion I was given worse service or served after another patron on a very bad night because I could be relied upon not to walk out on them. I forgave this once. But, after a second time (with not thanks, or other recompense) I haven't been back.

                                                                      1. I stopped going to a once favored mexican place when it went "chain-ey" , for lack of better word. Several of the more authentic items dropped from the menu, their salsas began to lose that bite, and I swear I could taste powdered mix in their margaritas. Same goes for any restaurant that in general, turns down the heat in response to people complaining about dishes being too "hot" for them.

                                                                        I also lose my taste for any place wherein a waiter argues with me, when i try to send something unsatisfactory or unordered back.

                                                                        1. Our family used to patronize a very nice, white table cloth resto downtown that has been in business for over 50+ years. My mom went there as a young married working woman for Fri lunch with "the girls", I began going literally in utero. We had many family celebrations through the years and continued going there as the resto passed from the original owner to the 2nd. Since we are located in the capital city, this resto is THE place for many legislators, celebrities who visit town, etc. They are open for B, L, D and it is the place to network and be seen. The 3rd owner took over and things started to change. Not the menu items, but he seemed to skimp on portions, the bread started to get chintzy, etc. Many of the wait staff, who have 25+ years of experience are still there, but privately they agree it's not the same.

                                                                          The straw that broke the camel's back was when my Dad was dying in 2001. We knew this was it - his last meal "out" and our last real family celebration. Of course, he wanted to have a Sat dinner at this place. We placed a reservation for 10 a week in advance. We arrived on time for our 7 p.m. table only to be told we would have to wait perhaps as long as 30-45 min. We asked for a chair for my father (he was on oxygen) and the owner told us he didn't have time to help us find a chair! He acted very, very rude when we shared that it was Dad's last meal out. Dad waited for our table and our service was very good. But we have never gone back. The attitude of the owner was horrifying. Granted we had a large party and this was prime 7 p.m. on Sat, but he could have been way more accommodating.

                                                                          Every time I drive by this place I want to spit at them. Now I hear that the owner wants to tear down this old steakhouse built in the 1940's and build a new hotel/resto and conference center. Hopefully, my curse is coming true. The last resto in Wilmette, IL I cursed burnt to the ground within 2 years, this is obviously just taking a little longer.

                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Diane in Bexley

                                                                            That is beyond horrible behaviour not only from a restaurant owner, but as a human being in general. Under no circumstances should anyone ever look at another person in poor health such as this and say "sorry, don't have time".

                                                                            My Mom's version of karma: "I hope their h**e festers".

                                                                            1. re: Diane in Bexley

                                                                              Oh, that's just too awful! I'm so sorry for that dreadful experience. NO TIME to get a chair for someone on oxygen? Who is on time for a reservation and still has to wait for up to 45 minutes??

                                                                              That really stinks.

                                                                              1. re: Diane in Bexley

                                                                                ok diane, i'll join in on your curse! that resto owner's behavior is inexcusable and just mean. please name the town, so i can focus!
                                                                                and im nomad, i'm stumped, what is a h**e? is it related to an @$$h**e?

                                                                                but if it can fester, maybe i don't need to know more....

                                                                                1. re: alkapal

                                                                                  I was thinking of the word "heinie", which I haven't really heard in many, many years. LOL!

                                                                                  1. re: Catskillgirl

                                                                                    lol!! we spelled that "hiney". LOL!!

                                                                                    as in, "i'm gonna jerk a knot in your hiney if you don't straighten up!"

                                                                                    or, as my dear departed florida panhandle aunt martha would say, as she smacked her rear-end, "well, you can just kiss my hiney." i miss her. she made the very best corn pone and field peas!

                                                                                    1. re: alkapal

                                                                                      u were right the first time alka !

                                                                                2. re: Diane in Bexley

                                                                                  Diane, we can only hope that karma or your curse have their way with this owner!

                                                                                  My Dad always claimed that his favorite restaurant was Tony's Hot Dogs in his hometown, although he had dined at some great restaurants all over the world. When he was terminally ill, a couple of guys that worked for him arranged to pick up all the components of his beloved chili dog and bring it to him three states away. He wasn't really able to enjoy the hot dog by that point, but he did enjoy spending some time with old friends and the thoughtfulness of the gift.

                                                                                  I'm sure that your Dad appreciated spending time with family at a place that held good memories for him, dispite the horrible treatment.

                                                                                3. our favorite sushi place got new owners who radically cut the menu selection and then the quality of the food. :(

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: jujuthomas

                                                                                    I'm sure this will be pulled down as soon as a moderator sees it, but I stop going to a sushi bar when the Rev. Moon buys it. Sounds like this is what happened to yours.

                                                                                    More info - http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sp...

                                                                                    1. re: Scrapironchef

                                                                                      Interesting article! i wonder how to find out who's supplying our local sushi places.

                                                                                      1. re: jujuthomas

                                                                                        Ask, if they're on the up and up they'll be happy to tell you.