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Ruths Chris Tampa - Disappointed

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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. FWIW, I think they should have comped more of your bill--half, at least? Because it's clear your dinner was spoiled. But I have never been in that situation. I'd be curious to hear what those who have had this happen to them received in recompense.

    1. Poor response on their end. I've never been impressed enough with RC anyway but they dropped the ball on this one for sure. The manager if he was gong to comp your next visit would have said so. Sounds like they were just saying hey sh*t happens and we will make sure it doesn't happen again to you. Like they have any control.

      1. We had a really bad experience a couple of years ago, and it was my birthday too.

        The next day when I got to work, I composed a very detailed, both praising past experiences and explaining our dissatisfaction with the night before's experience, email to their corporate office.

        I got a phone call a couple of hours later from the manager of that particular restaurant, as well as someone from the corporate office, very apologetic, very eager to not lose our business... our bill the night before was around $300 for the 2 of us. They told me they would like very much if we'd come back and have a a great dinner on them, like the ones we were used to getting from them, and said to watch the mail for a gift card.

        A couple of days later, indeed a gift card arrived (with no monetary figure), when we went back, a couple of weeks later, we were told to order what we wanted, just like the "ruined" meal, and we couldn't have been treated better, although that's the kind of experience everyone should have when eating out at a nice restaurant, it was nice to see the little extra attention. I felt a little hesitant to order the bottle of wine again, but was really encouraged by our waitress to enjoy.

        So if I were you, I would take them up on their offer to make things right,

        1. I had a bad experience there as well but they comped what I had consumed so far. I still won't go back though because even though it was comped they made me feel like what happened was my fault and it wasn't. I am not a plumber....

          1. Not being a fan of RC to begin with, your experience just cements our decision not to give them our business.

            1. Ruth's Chris in Boca Raton
              Unable to find the bottle of wine I ordered (by number).
              Repeatedly asked me if I'm sure I ordered the correct item.
              Asked me if it was a Red or White.
              Manager finally discovered it after about 10 minutes.
              All steaks were at the wrong temperature, had to refire all.
              Requested a candle be placed on a single dessert for someone at our table.
              No candle . . .
              The manager came over and held a candle in his hand in front of the Birthday person.
              It was not my choice and I'll never return.

              1. You are not out of line for feeling this way. It was more than the dress that was ruined and they should have offered to take a 50 percent off the bill. They did not appreciate you as a customer and to top it off it was your 40th Birthday.

                I can only offer one thing. Since RC is a chain you could call the home office or write them a letter about how you feel. Include the details you provided and how upset you are. I'm sure they would like to hear how the manager treated you guys which in my opinion is unexceptable. Often times the home office will correct the issue by sending out comp coupons or tickets for a free entree. It would not only give you a reason to go back but make you feel better that some other customer's night will no longer be potentially ruined.

                Just in case heres the home office info
                Ruth's Hospitality Group, Inc.
                500 International Parkway, #100
                Heathrow, FL 32746-5500
                Phone: (407) 333-7440
                Fax: (407) 833-9625

                1. RC is my least favorite of the High End steakhouses in Tampa. I would suggest Flemings for the best service (ask for Mark as your waiter) and tell Keith (the General Manager) that you had a bad experience at RC and that you are not going to return. He will go out of his way to make sure that you become a loyal Flemings customer. I personally had a bad experience at Capital Grille on my birthday and have moved my business accross the street to Flemings ever since.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: mooneypilot

                    i really do not think the meat is the same quality at Flemings as RC. RC is much much better then Flemings. I too suggest you email the main office and tell them of your experience, as well as what the manager said, but you do not know what he means "up to your expectations". I would think it would be a free meal, but who knows.
                    RC is a excellent steak house, but some managers think with their rear instead of their head because they feel they are loosing the revenues, and not thinking about loosing a customer.
                    Don't forget, they didn't get big by pissing off customers, but some local managers do not realize that customers talk and compare restaurants, but do not try hard enough to satisfy the issue right now, so the customer will at least walk out happy and satisfied.

                    1. re: irwin

                      I JUST got home after seeing a movie and munching a 20oz. medium rare wood fire grilled Ribeye from Logans on Anderson Road by the Veteran's Movie Theaters...
                      Soft, tender, and juicy... $21.99...
                      Just sayin'...

                  2. More RC experiences:

                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/465782

                    including mine:

                    We had a perfectly wretched meal at the Ruth's Chris in Bonita Springs, FL. I should have known something was up when I made a same day reservation in "season". Last year there was a two-three week wait.

                    I ordered a prosecco apertif and my boyfriend ordered a beer. The prosecco barely filled half the glass, this was no great burgundy requiring room to breathe <G> It was also flat. The server brought a second one that was only slightly chilled, underfilled and still flat.

                    We ordered a t bone and a filet. Neither was cooked to our specifications and the t-bone could barely be sawed with the knife. Barebones presentation. Definitely not aged beef. Someone is cutting corners.

                    Baked potato for him with a flaccid skin, almost as if it were microwaved. I ordered the special peas of the day. "Petit Pois" were barely thawed and had a variation of cheez whiz on them.

                    Bread was undoubtedly pepperidge farm. We had a bottle of Parducci Pinot Noir which is bottled for them. Nice wine but it was way too warm. No cellar temperature here, more like Florida trunk temperature. Had to be 75 degrees. We decided not to complain but I wrote the company via their website and had a reply wanting to call me to apologize. No thanks. I would not want to return.

                    After I mentioned this on Fodors, it appears that my experience is similar to others. LilMsFoodie.

                    The RC in Bonita Springs is on life-support right now. Way too many steak houses, including one's own home with much better wine to waste money at this kind of place.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: LilMsFoodie

                      Lil......

                      Have to say that if any part of the meal can be described using the words "flaccid skin," I'm immediately off my feed........

                      1. re: LilMsFoodie

                        RC in Bonita Springs was awful for us as well. We've been major RC fans going back more years than we care to count. We both travel for business extensively and will go out of our way to patronize RC because of their superior predictable cuisine.... except when we tried the new on just north of us in Bonita Springs. Our reservation wasn't honored, but we sluffed it off, as this is a seasonal community and we were more than willing to cut some slack. Our table for two was squeezed into a space that was just flat out too small, requiring us to ask two four tops to get up and reposition while we came in and out.... it was to a point where we passed on a bathroom trip to avoid any more imposition. it took twenty minutes for any service staff to find us, another twelve minutes to get our cocktails, and we ended up sitting for anther twenty for the apps to arrive. When the entrees did arrive, they were cold, done incorrectly, the NY strip was more "gristled" than marbled, and they just forgot to bring the creamed spinach and the sweet potato casserole. When the check finally came, however, we found that we'd sure been charged for them though, and after pointing out the situation to the waiter, he went into a corner and conferred with one server after another to see if we were telling him the truth, honest to god.... then... after all was said and done, dinner over... gristle steak gone (pointed out to the server who thoroughly ignored the issue), we were asked ... and this is not a joke..."so do you want these sides or not?"... being as spinach and sweet potatoes don't fall into our dessert spectrum, we passed and were finally given a corrected bill. I wrote them a letter, I called, I stewed about it and nothing was ever reponded to...nada, bupkes, borscht... and we never went back..... and we've told this story in our workplaces, our clubs and just about anyplace that it might have impact.... and now they're hurting badly, and for good cause.... adios, RC Bonita, you were an embarrassment to the chain!
                        (strong comments to follow)

                      2. Been there a few times and it's always the same. Service is good, not great; food is usually overcooked by the time it reaches the table (sizzling hot plates); sides are nothing to speak of; too pricey for what you get. Charley's down the street is much better with a citrus wood fired grill and more contemporary side offerings too. Shula's is also much better than Ruth's. In Tampa there are a lot of better options for a good steak.

                        1. We just received a $25 gift card to RC in the mail. That made me think business must be really suffering for them. In this economy, they can't afford to tick off anyone. Based on these comments, I don't think that's enough to get us to try it.

                          1. billreeves, I had a dinner experience at RC very similiar to yours about a year ago. I was dining for my b-day at the one in Orlando/Dr. Phillips and ordered the filet and lobster tail. They brought over a huge bowl of melted butter for the lobster and in serving my dinner proceeded to knock the bowl of butter all over me. The waiter said "Oh, great" and proceeded to run away. The manager came over, brought napkins to try to clean it up, but the evening was ruined for me. There was no way to enjoy anything drenched completely in melted butter.

                            The waiter delivered our check and it was for the entire meal. I went and found the manager, explained what happened and told him I was not going to pay for a dinner that was ruined. He apologized, comped the check and gave a gift card for an unspecified amount. We have never been back as I still don't think I should have had to search out the manager to get this taken care of correctly.

                            There is too much competition in this area for us to ever go back again. The food isn't as good as other RC's and there is a Morton's a block down which has much better food IMHO. Plus Morton's is still running their $99 steak & seafood for 2 special.