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should we have been comped?

I had an unfortunate dining experience last week. First, the waitress dumped a tray full of drinks all over our table, and completing covering my boyfriend's coat. She barely apologized. My finger also got cut in the process of scrambling out of the way of the flying glasses. Then, to add insult to injury, three of the four entrees arrived (mine missing, of course) and I was told that it would be "right out." Forty minutes later, my entree (actually more of an appetizer) arrived, after repeated attempts by my party and myself inquiring about it. Again, barely any acknowledgment by waitress. The only reason we stayed for food was because a member of my party "knew the owner" and vouched for the food. We had a few rounds of drinks, one of which the waitress said was on the house. When we asked for the check, everything was included, minus the one round of drinks. They did not even offer to reimburse my boyfriend to have his beer-covered coat dry cleaned. Because we were trying to be polite on account of the person who was friends with the owner, we didn't make a scene, though our impression of the place was reflected in the very meager tip. But the question remains, should we have been comped more? I think at least my entree should have been.

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  1. If you decided to eat your entree after all instead of leave, it's debatable whether it should have been comped. They should have offered to pay the cleaning bill, that is customary for this situation. But growing expectations of comping need to be dialed back a bit...

    Your friend, however, should have a word with the owner. Because, so far as I can see, your friend's reputation has been compromised by the establishment. It may be that your friend's vouching was unwarranted, of course....

    1. That is a tough call. Unfortunately, it sounds like a horrible evening, and not worth your efforts.

      Let's try to break it down:

      Drinks spilled over the table and some of the patrons. Besides a big apology, I'd have expected an offer to have the jacket cleaned, if they were made aware of it. Here, I'd expect one round to be fully comp'ed, and I do not mean the spilled ones.

      As for the entrée, I'd say that forty minutes is totally unacceptable. Ten minutes after the arrival of other entrées, is too much. Something is wrong in the kitchen, or with the waitstaff. To me, this should have been comp'ed, as well. I feel this way, regardless of whether it was eaten or not. One should be able to expect some sort of pacing, with regards to the delivery of dishes for the table, unless one has ordered something much later into the meal. Should you have expected this to be comp'ed? I do not know, but I would have. I have seen some restaurants not take the initiative on a matter such as this. Wife hosted a large candidate dinner. Orders were placed. As the entrées were being served, she was informed that her "special" was not available. All diners are now waiting, because the hostess' table is empty. A menu was brought out. She chose something else. The waitstaff all disappeared. Time went by. No one was touching their food. Server came back and said, "sorry, but that is not available either." My wife asked for the menu once more. "Is THIS available?" "I'll have to check," was the reply. Time passed. No one was eating. "No, that's not available either." "OK, what IS available?" "Most things on the menu." "NO THEY ARE NOT. What IS available?" Finally, a dish was ordered, and delivered in a few minutes, and all could begin eating, though my wife protested to all to please start.

      In that case, there was never an apology. In that case, nothing was comp'ed. Though the bill was for several thousand dollars, including a considerable amount of great wine, nothing was said by the management. I paid, but tipped very poorly on just the food order, especially as there were major problems with the wine service.

      This was the second local fine-dining restaurant that was nixed during this candidate search. The first has been chronicled on other CH boards. The next four were held at another restaurant, that came through with flying colors.

      Some year later, we were introduced to the owner of this restaurant. He inquired whether we had ever dined there. I explained that upon our arrival in the area, we had. I then recounted this experience. He apologized profusely, and offered to host an event for my wife, if only she'd only reconsider his restaurant. They worked out a deal, and we have been back to dining with them ever since. The entire staff, with the possible exception of the bussers was replaced, including the sommelier and the chef and sous-chef.

      Why am I telling you this? All too often the management has no clue what might be happening out amongst the patrons. They should, but it is not unlikely, that none had a clue as to what you experienced.

      I would follow up, if it is recent enough, with a letter to the GM or owner. Let them know all of the details: date, time, party size, server's name/table #, if you know it. Then, wait and see how they handle the situation.

      Sorry about your evening,


      1 Reply
      1. re: Bill Hunt

        I agree. But I think as the host of this "event," cause let's face it this was not just a foursome going out to dinner, I would have excused myself quietly from the table, sought out the manager/owner and expressed my disappointment. A large party passing on unfavorable comments to all and sundry is the worst advertisement any restaurant could want.

      2. This whole scene wasn't handled properly, IMHO.
        Anytime drinks are spilled or an entree is that late, a manager should be the one coming over to deal with it, rather than leaving it on the waitress.

        I don't think the whole thing should have been comped, but if this had happened in my restaurant, I would have taken care of the dry cleaning, comped the round of drinks and the entree that was so late.

        If something like this happens again, I would advise that you ask to speak to a manager right away. It's difficult to fix this kind of thing after the fact, and far easier make it right the night of.

        1. I'm thiking the owner should be shaking in his boots. You were cut, lots of people would sue the owner. You should have the cleaning paid for, and lots of begging for forgiveness from the owner.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Janet

            i have had shattered glassware land in my hair and in my food. i don't think a minor cut makes a viable lawsuit, sorry.

            the server handled everything poorly, and it looks like management was unaware, which doesn't indicate excellence in that department either. was your friend mortified? if he/she was friendly with the owner how come that owner never visited the table?

            at the very least, an offer of dry-cleaning and a comped round of drinks should have occurred. i'm not a fan of obsequious apologies by staff in these scenarios, but a gracious manager should have handled you with kid gloves. i suggest a non-combative phone call, calmly stating the facts, and see what happens.

          2. I would have hit the exits at the first sign of a klutz for a waitress.

            ""She barely apologized.""

            Cold shouldering (+klutz) indicates she has some problem, like maybe she didn't want to be there. Bad karma or something, but anyway, I would be blocks away by now.

            1. It is hard to decide who was the major person at fault on the restarant's side there are so many mistakes. So to clarify the Clutz/Yutz Awards:

              - Waitress - totally out of touch with her responsibilities. From the wine, to gettingthe MOD, to the service, to yelling at the kitchen. She is defines the Zippo-Tippo standard
              - MOD - Was he asleep or just useless. A crash of glasses usually brings utter silence and staring at any restauranjt jfood has been to. At tha point MOD should have engaged and settled things.
              - Kitchen - Where's the fourth dish? Was it an input error on the waitress' part? This is a real possibility given her other issues. But when the three went out you have to assume she walked in and asked what happened. Please so so Joe.
              - And let's not forget your dinner companion who knew the owner. Was s/he crazy glued to the chair. If jfood had made that claim, sure as shootin' he's in thye MOD's face on the issue and tell him to correct ASAP.

              Now onto your question.


              - Dry cleaning is a no brainer
              - Round of drinks is a no brainer
              - Your entree/app is a no brainer
              - A round of desserts would have been a nice added touch but given you alreaqdy waited 40 minutes for the entree, jfood would probably do a snagglepuss and exit stage left.

              Now onto the good restaurant policy. Probably this whole meal should have been comped as a show of good business by the restaurant. But it is not a required event. Jfood is interested in two items as a potential follow-up on the side of the OP>

              1 - Was the food good?
              2 - Did your friend contact the owner?

              8 Replies
              1. re: jfood

                Thanks everyone for the replies. The food was OK, nothing spectacular. The place is more of a (gastro)pub with high-end food. Had the night not turned out the way it did, I had hoped to return to sample more of the menu. I don't know if my friend contacted the owner. However, he did tell me that the waitress is the owner's WIFE, so that added to my hesitation to demand to speak with management, assuming that we kind of already were dealing with them. Furthermore, my boyfriend had pulled the waitress aside at the end of the meal to discuss his jacket situation (which was cleaned off with the same towel that cleaned the spilled drinks on the table!) and also communicated to her that I was upset about what had happened. Rather than apologizing or adjusting the bill, she stated that she wanted to "acknowledge what happened." She then proceeded to explain how my food order never got to the kitchen due to technical problems with their system (like I care!) I'm obviously still peeved about this...it's rare that I become incensed about service issues, and this place was clearly not in the leagues of haute cuisine, but I still feel strongly that it should have been handled differently. Glad to vent :)

                1. re: queenseats

                  Bummer. I do not know what else you could have done, except to express your concerns on Chowhound. At least you can vent, and maybe that's the best that can come of the unfortunate incident. Maybe Gordon Ramsey needs to do an additional series, "Front of the House Nightmares... "


                  1. re: queenseats

                    ""However, he did tell me that the waitress is the owner's WIFE,...""

                    I knew it was something, but not THAT BAD!

                    Her failure "to make it right" goes out the window in feeble excuse attempts, IMHO. They are not business people, either.

                    1. re: RShea78

                      i worked for a husband -- and wife (read "harpy").* you will NEVER get any objectivity in that situation. they always protect/excuse for each other.

                      * oh, sorry, harpies, i didn't mean to sully your names by association with her. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harpy

                      ps. i'd forgotten this about the harpies-- somewhat relevant in this situation: Zeus was angry with Phineas, a prophet, and punished him by putting him on an island with a food buffet which he could never eat.

                      <and here it is> "The harpies always arrived and stole the food out of his hands right before he could satisfy his hunger, and befouled the remains."

                    2. re: queenseats

                      Ouch...sounds like a DNR.

                      And your friend "knew the owner" but not the wife? Sounds like a good slap on the side of the head from where jfood grew up.

                    3. re: jfood

                      jfood, i'm going to applaud your funny post: "Clutz/Yutz" and "Zippo-Tippo" et cetera -- you are in fine form!

                      1. re: alkapal

                        And here is the reason...

                        - There was a large pot of onions on the stove getting good and gooey for Julia's French Onion soup, and
                        - Jfood was waiting for the meat sauce for Hazan's Canneloni to simmer for 45 minutes.

                        And with the length of time it takes to make the canneloni, jfood's onions had 3+ hours to slowly caramelized, plus he used half mayan sweet and half yellow onions. The end result was unbelievable. You should try the looooooong sloooooooooow carameling approach.

                        1. re: jfood

                          three hours! wow -- that is a looooooooong tiiiiiiiime. sounds delicious -- i love good french onion soup.

                    4. I'd go to the GM, during the day, and explian the situation, especially the coat damage, take what they offer and then never go back. I would have left after the spill and called it a night.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: cstr

                        I'd go to the GM...

                        LOL GM? Owner-&-Wife (aka mom and pop) establishment?

                        Heavens to Murgatroyd!!! ;-)