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Nov 28, 2008 12:05 PM

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.