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Nov 25, 2008 12:53 PM

Can't believe they're still in business!

Are there restaurants that you have had so many bad experiences that you won't go anymore? Have you also wondered how they can continue to stay in business? With so many good restaurants closing these days, it's interesting to see how some really bad ones continue to thrive. Would love to see your thoughts!

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  1. it's interesting to see how some really bad ones continue to thrive.

    Maybe the bad ones, as you perceive, really are not that bad after all. Restaurants that have a long history/longevity are usually the types of place where you know the food is predictable or where the quality is reliable.....resulting in an enjoyable staple meal. Restaurants that fall into this description are The Charlie Brown Steakhouses or your favorite Old School Red Sauce Italian Restaurant. These places may be around for nostolgic reasons, but not everyone is looking for fine dining. Many people eat out for convenience and budgets are always of concern.

    Trendy restaurants hit with a bang, but when the first signs of a slow down in business become a reality, the management/ownership, make changes in staff, policy or menu......and you hear the's not as good as it used to be.

    Some dining customers always have high expectations and demand everything to be perfect every time they go out....any miscues are not or will be tolerated. This is their prerogative of course, but when you look for miscues, you will find them. For me this is not a pleasant way to dine.

    When I go out for a meal, I just want food prepared with quality ingredients and served with a smile.....I can even accept some attitude. I'm all about the food, quality and value. Provide these three points and most places will be around for a long time with many repeat customers.

    2 Replies
    1. re: fourunder

      fourunder, I do agree with all that you have said. What's the point of going out to eat if you are going to look for fault? That's just no fun at all!
      If the food is predictable and reliable, it certainly wouldn't be a candidate for this post. Of course the topic is very subjective but I'm talking about places where, when you are with a group of people, the comments on dissapointing restaurants gather more than just one vote.
      I personally don't go for trendy type restaurants. I prefer the tried and true favorites. There's nothing better than a Dagwood burger and onion rings from the Sycamore Drive In in Bethel!

      1. re: ChefDell

        ChefDell, my comments were not meant for you personally, but in general. I did understand the premise of your query, and I apologize if my comments came out wrong. Believe me when I tell you I have many places on my list where it boggles my mind how they are still in business...bad times or good, and how anybody I know can frequent these places on a regular basis. Living in Northern New Jersey, many restaurants are down right terrible...but still around and frequented by people I know. it even amazes me how the mediocre places, such as the typical diners, can get by with the crap they serve. There is one diner in my town, which I no longer frequent, that cannot even prepare a proper breakfast, e.g., when you order eggs over easy...they always break the eggs and the accompanying potatoes are always either burnt or cold. One of my friends thinks this place is great and brings his family there every Sunday Morning. On the opposite end, I have a friend who complains about the place more than I, but still goes there with his family on the same Sunday mornings...and even a few more meals during the week...go figure.

        But to address the issue of complaints of others....One comment I have repeated many times on food blogs is.....I do not believe my tastes or taste buds are any better than anyone other person's ....just different. With that said, I have been to many lunches and dinners over the years with family, friends, business clients, and varying degrees of acquaintances. Some of these people have complained about the most ridiculous things...even before they have tasted the food....So for myself, I tend not to get too involved with complaint comments of in general. I usually give a place another chance after a poor experience. If the return visit is poor...I write them off....based on my experiences...not that of others. This applies only to food issues. Bad Service, especially by management or ownership is not tolerated and if the house treats family, friends or acquaintances poorly....I will no longer frequent or intend to give any consideration for future business under any circumstance...even if invited by others as a matter of principle.

        Two stories I can tell you along those complaint lines of others are: On a golf trip to Myrtle Beach with my father and members of his club....there were two individuals that complained about everything. They would eat half the items...and then send them back. When the servers asked both if they would like something else.....the answer was always "no". When it came time to settle the bill.....both bums emphatically said they did not have to their items were removed from the check.....Imagine having to sit with these two for three meals a day, seven days, without having the ability to call them on their cheapness.

        The other story involves the membership of the Country Club where I worked at. There, some of the members took complaining to a new level never thought imaginable. At the club, there was a phenomenon which I coined the phase as the bandwagon effect. There were these individuals who were the pompous ones of the group, and when they would always make a negative comment about something... the rest would then follow their lead and say their meals or service was terrible as well....although there never was actually a problem. One time their comments made were the last straw.... during the middle of the busiest time at our Country Club, the Sunday Brunch Service, one of these creeps criticized their Soft Scramble Eggs and not soft enough...and the rest of the table demanded every ones egg orders to be recooked. I told them enough was enough and I would bet no one at the table had ever complained like this at the local diner and it would no longer be tolerated. Although the complaints did not stop for the season completely, the perpetrators frequency did...and when they did so, their complaints were much more legitimate....and complained about without any attitude and an amazing amount of politeness.

    2. Nope, not anymore. Happily, it closed this year.

      1. The original comment has been removed
        1. Jfood has stated this premise numerous times. No matter how bad a restaurant is, he NEVER wants anyone put out of business. Now in this economy and unemplyment increasing and the holiday season upon us, he hopes even more places are able to survive this downturn and keep as many people employed.

          What is it to jfood that others like food he does not. And the idea that people take glee or happiness in a business going out of business and people losing their jobs is despicable. It should never happen to anyone. There but for the grace of God goes thee is jfood's motto.

          Jfood went to a long established indy pasta bar last night. It was not his cup of tea but boy was this place hoppin'. people waiting to eat food, including MV reheated lasagne. and everyone looked like they were really liking it.

          Does jfood have a DNR list. Sure, everyone does. But like he wrote in a post this morning he re-tried one after a year because friends wanted to eat there. And guess what. It improved and he liked it. So you never know.

          2 Replies
          1. This post was certainly not meant to be a forum to bash anyplace or revel in the misfortunes of restaurants gone under. Lets get real, I'm sure we all know of places that have survived and thrive and we just can't figure out why.

          2. Ah... the power of expectation.

            I glanced at the Charlie Browns post and I had to laugh. I love the place. I meet friends there and tell them "expect nothing" and you'll walk away happy.

            Then I stop off at Daniel in NYC and ask whomever I'm with "go ahead... try and find something wrong!". I tried the same maneuver at BLT White Plains and got embarrassed that it wasn’t even close to NYC standards. More on that another time.

            Then there are “those” that simply have no “business in the business” and should relinquish their kitchen and lease to someone that does.

            Remember Gina Marie's in Eastchester? I remember hearing stories of customers complaining about "plate sharing" charges and literally being told "don't come back if you don't like it". Well, those customers listened, as did many other people, and now they're finally closed. Not sure if it was the crappy attitude or the fact that they actually had the nerve to charge for plate sharing. But have no fear Jfood, as someone else will take their place and probably create more jobs and revenue from the area. Remember that good people in the hospitality business are hard to find and will always find employment.

            This post, for me, was reminiscent of my "warning signs" post almost 2 years ago. I took such a bashing when all I really wanted to prove is that "trying to be something you're not, doesn’t work".

            The manager at Charlie Browns would never try and convince you he knew where the cows were raised or what they were fed (although he knows, to the penny, what Sysco charges him to deliver them, and whether his food cost percentages are what corporate wants to see). Yet Adam Perry Lang from Robert's Steakhouse in NYC is trying to raise his own “perfect” steer in Kansas and dry ages his own beef on premise. But hey, think Adam would ever authorize a 10 foot counter smack dab in the middle of the restaurant advertising “all you can eat salad (from last Tuesday)”?

            The breakfast cook at the Tarrytown Diner probably hasn’t a clue on where his eggs come from (nor does he care) while Dan Barber at Blue Hill has dreams about new formulations for his chickens to create the perfect egg. I saw the traffic on the bridge from those stupid road “plates” and stopped in for coffee and breakfast. Before I walked in, I reminded myself “Billy, all you want is clean plates and Splenda for the coffee”. I got both and was ecstatic.

            The interesting thing is that they all really just, at the end of the day, work for a paycheck. Although I think the line cook at the diner has the least amount of worries and goes home the same time each day.

            These are the things you know BEFORE you go.

            Lastly, let’s not be a bunch of turkeys waiting for a presidential pardon. Name some names. If everyone would voice their opinion, maybe these “places” would go out of business faster and new ones would take their place. Better for everyone no?

            P.S. Right now I can’t decide if I want a hot dog from Papaya or a slice of Foie Gras Torchon from Per Se. Decisions, decisions…

            3 Replies
            1. re: billyparsons


              That's a good example, jfood does not think the dog at papaya is good, yet others rave about them. but he would NEVER revel in their demise. And yes the people would probably find other jobs, but the idea of happiness based on the potential misery of others over a bad meal is totally unacceptable and lacking maturity. Soap box over

              And, as you said, one needs to regulate their expectations. Jfood is tryiong to figure out how to sneak for a great dog at sooper dooper weinie while deciding between a good restaurant for sunday night. totally different expectations (short ribs at home currently winning the battle).

              And jfood sorta wishes the chefs not try to mess with nature on craeting the perfect beef or chicke. Work with what nature gives you. As jfood sits looking out back he is waiting for the wild turkey family to walk by and stick their tongues out at him. Hey they made it and deserve to strut a little.

              And as jfood mentioned on another thread about receiving MV heated lasagne last week, take a deep breath, it's not Daniel, but the place is packed with happy locals and that is what good food is about as well.

              Peace BP and have a great holiday season. glad your back on the boards

              1. re: jfood

                Well said. Especially in this economic climate with restaurants closing left and right.

                1. re: RawTunaFan

                  Well said RTF. And may people find pleasure in good eating in 2009.