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Nov 6, 2008 05:13 PM

Ruths Chris - Wearing a bowl of soup

I haven't been able to shake feeling like I got a bad rap at Ruths Chris, and I'm leaving it up to the Chowhounders to tell me if I'm off base or not.

Last weekend, my wife surprised me with dinner reservations at Tampa's Ruth's Chris for my 40th birthday. Tampa has all the chain steakhouses, as well as a few excellent privately-owned places (Berns), but we've always enjoyed RC. Soon after ordering the $90 porthouse, wine, sides and two bowls of lobster bisque, the waiter spilled the bisque on my wife's dress. She spent 20 minutes in the restroom cleaning up and the rest of the evening apologising to me for "ruining the night". The manager did come out when she returned to offer his apologies and a comp for her drycleaning bill.

We didn't make a huge scene in the dining room, and understand accidents happen, but were shocked when we received the bill and saw that the entire $180 bill was due. I appreciate the $4.00 comp to dry clean the dress, but my wife ate dinner in a wet dress that smelled like fish that night, had to return home and scrap after dinner plans and they even charged us for the soup!

I spoke to the manager a few days later and explained I felt "unappreciated" by their response to a ruined evening. He said come back in and they would make sure our next visit was up to our expectaions. What does that mean?

Am I being to hard on RC? Its been two weeks and still feel like they valued the bill over the customer.

Your thoughts?

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  1. They didn't even comp the bisque? Crazy.

    Honestly, I would've expected your entire wife's meal to be comped, at the very least. True, she (or you) didn't make a scene... and honestly, management should've been thankful for that. But the reality is, your Wife's evening was indeed ruined and she was able to keep her cool.

    First of all, kudos to you and your wife for being calm. Second, contact corporate. The response was completely inappropriate.

    You came in for a nice night and an error occurred. The error should've been corrected that night... not a subsequent visit.

    1. that's crazy. poor management style. i would have complained then and, at least, would not have paid for the soup! i have no idea what his response means. maybe they won't spill the soup the next time?

      1. I'm having a problem understanding your post. The $90. porterhouse is dinner for 2, you are indicating in your post that the high $90. price tag was just for you. Next I can't believe they only offered $4. for cleaning, you can't even buy Oxyclean for that. Regardless of my opinion, I'm surprised the manager did not comp the entire evening. Having dined there many times, they always go out of their way to please. I'd write to corporate, they'll respond and will most likely replace the dress and also give you a comp for 2 on your next visit.

        1 Reply
        1. re: cstr

          Thanks for your response and suggestion. Sorry, I didn't mean to imply that a $90 steak was for just for me, neither were the two bowls of soup referenced in that same sentance.

        2. I think restaurants get tired of comping people for every little complaint. Not that this was little in any stretch of the imagination, but on a given busy night a manager is getting TONS of complaints and many of them are completely without merit - it's too cold in here for me, too hot in here, my steak, which is properly cooked to the temperature I requested, is too done/underdone in my opinion, the food is too salty, we weren't seated for 15 minutes even though we had a reservation, etc. I think unfortunately that more and more people are complaining just to get something comped or to get a gift card for a return meal instead of having a legitimate complaint, and I bet this is a case of the bad apples spoiling the whole bunch since you obviously had a very legitimate complaint. I personally would have asked for the food to be boxed to go and would have left if my dress was soaked with stinky fish soup; perhaps since you stayed they thought it wasn't that big of a deal? I do agree $4 is ridic for a dry cleaning bill and that they should have given you a free dessert or something, and that's probably what they intend to do on the next visit. The freebies and comps are less and less these days as (I'm guessing) managers are getting pressured because they end up giving too much away, and I think they're told to tightly control comps because it really does end up hurting the business when there are dozens each night.

          3 Replies
          1. re: rockandroller1

            You're probably right about the complaints, comps and freebies. That doesn't excuse not properly compensating a customer for something that is OBVIOUSLY a big blooper on the part of the restaurant. Sure, accidents happen, but there was no judgment call needed here as to whether service was slow, food was over or undercooked, etc. I think they should have comped some major part of the check, such as all the alacarte items, or perhaps the entree. I, too, would write to corporate and ask if the manager followed policy.

            1. re: Emm

              Absolutely. Her meal, etc. should've been comped. There is no excuse for dumping a bowl of soup in a person's lap. Period. Management should've been at that table quicker than a blink of an eye., apologizing and comping like crazy! Making it right then and there is damage control and helps ease the pain. If I were her , I'd be bitter and never step foot into RC again. There's too many non-corporate folks that'll appreciate your hard-earned dollars.

              1. re: lynnlato

                As I said, it was obviously a legitimate complaint. I'm just trying to play devil's advocate and show why things may have gone the way they did. I do think I have a valid point though - if the dress was drenched and stinky, most people would leave. If it was simply a minor splash, perhaps all that needed done is to comp the soup or bring a free dessert. It's still not clear to me why anyone would have an entire bowl of stinky fish soup dumped on them and then continue to sit through the entire meal. The "pleasant" outing would no longer be pleasant. Unless it's the type of place you waited a year to get a reservation, cut your losses and go home and order pizza, I'm thinking.

          2. If it was the whole bowl, they should have comped SOMETHING on the menu...like the wine which you definitely needed. If it was a small spill (like a teaspoons worth) at least they should have taken off the price of both soups!

            I would write to corporate.