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Feb 8, 2009 04:53 PM

Bar Italia - bad experience

I had been to Bar Italia once before on a Sunday and had enjoyed it, so when my mom and I were searching for a place to go for lunch on Friday just after noon, I suggested we walk to Bar Italia. When we approached the restaurant, I saw from the sign out front that they were participating in Winterlicious, which slightly frightened me because I don't generally have good 'licious experiences. We went inside and asked to see the regular menu and decided we would give it a try. The restaurant was about 1/3 full, maybe five tables had people at them. My mom wanted to sit in one of the six large boothes and we asked the hostess if we could sit at a booth. She told us they had to be saved for parties of 4 to 6, which was fine with us, and we sat at a regular table. However, once we sat down and looked around, we realized that one booth had a party of 2 at it (they still had their menus, so it's not like they beat the "lunch rush" or anything) and another had a party of three that had just gotten their foods. Hmmm....only two other tables in the whole place had anyone at them, and we had asked to see a regular menu, so you can't even say they thought we were just "Winterlicious" customers. We sat for a bit, but it bothered me too much and we got up and left. On the way out, the waitress didn't even ask why were leaving, just said, "Goodbye ladies." I wouldn't go back...bad service in a non-busy environment is never a good thing.

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  1. Maybe the other table were waiting for others to join? or amybe some reservations were made for the other larger tables or they just wanted to keep some of them available in case a larger party came in.. to me this is not a reason to say "bad experience" in your review... You did not even say to the waitress "we will leave if you do not give us a bigger table" she may have...

    when you left after looking at the menu she probably thought that you did not like the menu or thought it was too pricey... You did not get "Bad" service.. because you did not give them a chance to serve you...

    9 Replies
    1. re: OnDaGo

      lol if she had asked why we were leaving, we would have said why -- she didn't ask!

      1. re: OnDaGo

        canadianbeaver spent 7 minutes on an internet post, but wouldn't take 30 sec to ask a manager for a booth lol

        1. re: sleepy

          Man, everyone gangs up with me on this! Meanwhile, at Petit Castor, an identical issue was seen as horrific. Basically, the point is, in an empty restaurant, it's a simple request and shouldn't be that hard to honour. I guess I'm the only one on this board who sees this as a faux pas!

          1. re: canadianbeaver

            I have to agree (witht the others). No one seems to want to address a concern they have with a restaurant at said restaurant but they'll spend copious amounts of time complaining about it after the fact. If not getting a booth had made you this upset, what do you do when a real crisis comes along?

            1. re: gigi

              I disagree. It's not up to the customer to beg to be served. Restaurant has to be proactive in addressing customer concerns. That's why it's called 'customer service' not merchant service.

              Then again, only poor business people take such an attitude.

              1. re: elreydelmundo

                They were not begging to be served they walkied out because of a "perceived" slight by not getting a booth for two people. She said: " She told us they had to be saved for parties of 4 to 6, which was fine with us, and we sat at a regular table." .. read that again "WHICH WAS FINE WITH US" if they would have said "No we want a booth or we will throw a temper tantrum and leave" they probably would have gotten their booth.. but they responded like a typical Canadian when told they could not have the booth and said "this table will be fine" then they sat and stewed and then left to complain on the Internet instead of saying to the waitress what they really wanted...

                But of course this is the restaurants fault because they did not hire a psyhic waitress that could read their minds... lol

                1. re: OnDaGo

                  Canadianbeaver-I for one totally agree with your opinion and actions. You got a little "amuse" of the service/attitude you were about to receive and made the right decision by leaving. What would yopu have gained by talking to the manager, except to piss off the waitress even more. We, the customers are the kings and queens and not enough restaurnats in this city, in this economy get it. As well, the personal attacks you are getting are totally unfair so don't be bothered.

                  1. re: OnDaGo

                    OnDaGo...Sounds like you operate the same way. Why don't you state the name of your establishment since you are so proud of the manner of operation? LOL......

                    1. re: elreydelmundo

                      Because I am a computer consultant not a restauranteur... just happen to have lots of friends in the industry... owners & staff of Bars, cafes, restaurants, nightclubs .. I keep my eyes open, my ears open. I listen to people and learn.. and can tell the tale with no repercussions...

                      It may help peoples perception if they actually treated the staff as people and talked to them about concerns instead of treating them like "servents" at their becken call... you would be surprised how much extra effort people would put in to making sure you have a good time.

        2. I work in a restaurant where there is constantly people whining about having to take a small booth, escpecially when a bigger booth is available.

          The thing is, when there are several big booths open, it is cool for a group of 2 to take one because there are still several big booths available. But as the bigger booths start filling up you have to be adamant that any groups of 2 sit at small tables because you have to keep at least a few big booths ready in case 3 or 4 people show up.

          When we haven't been careful where seating people, we've been in the situation where we have a lineup of big groups who have to wait while all the groups of 2 take up the big 4 seater tables. Then the manager / owner gets pissed cause the restaurant is only half full (of big booths that are half empty) and we have a big lineup.

          What if the hostess gave you and all the other groups of 2 the big tables first while leaving the small tables empty and then she had to turn away a group of 6 because there was nowhere to seat them right away? Do you think she'd get an earful from her boss?

          You didn't get bad service.

          6 Replies
          1. Wow. This is really bringing out the passion in people. I think it's an endless topic and there will always be opposing views. But, here's how I would have handled it from either side:

            1) If I have a resto and there are booths, yes I would like to fill them up with larger groups. But, if two people come in and request one during off hours, I would more than happily give them one. However, I would tell them that I would appreciate their help if I need to accommodate a sudden appearance of a larger group. If I did have to move them, I'd find a way to make it easy and pleasant and comp them something.

            2) If I go into a place and request a specific table, I don't want to hear that it's a 'just in case' space for a larger group. I don't request these things for the sheer hell of it, I have a reason. Telling me that it's 'policy' or it's only for larger groups isn't on. Did someone specifically reserve it? Will it be filled up in the next hour? Are you sure about that? Should I come in, request a booth, get denied, sit at a table to dine and see that booth (or whatever other special seat it is you want) sit empty the entire time, I'm going to be a tad sour.

            It's all about negotiations - you be cool with me and I'll be cool with you. You dick me around with arbitrary seating rules or demand a seat that I know will be needed shortly and the whole house of cards collapses.

            Can't we all just get along?

            1. re: escoffier

              Yes, my request was made because my mother has a disability.

            2. re: thrillhouse

              The thing is, the restaurant was empty. There was 6 booths, of which only 2 had people sitting at them. It was fine with us if she wanted to save all the booths (hence I said, "Which was fine with us"), but when I see that some people get booths while others don't, especially in an empty restaurant, it does make me wonder. And I would never tattle on a waitress to her manager, in that situation what can come of it? My only point with this thread was that I had been there and enjoyed it before, and I was surprised in an empty restaurant on a weekday, that they would refuse us a simple request and then watch us get up and leave without asking us why. I guess there is something about my post that made people very, very upset!

              1. re: canadianbeaver

                I think it could have been better handled by the resto for sure. It's definitely sparked a series of discussions on here. My experience with a lot of College street dining establishments is that they expect another customer to arrive shortly. It could have been that they were expecting more people to show, in which case that could have been better communicated to you.

                But more importantly, where did you end up going on College?

                1. re: escoffier

                  We went to Free Times -- always had great experiences there. Delish.

                  1. re: canadianbeaver

                    For what it's worth, a previous post of mine was deleted because perhaps I was a little too passionate about customer service! :)

                    I'll start off by saying that Bar Italia is one of those "hip" places that think it's cool to be kind of aloof in service. I've received that type of service there, and also found their tables to be a little too close together. But I haven't been in some time, so maybe this has changed.

                    In any event, I wholeheartedly agree with what you did canadianbeaver. I would have done the same.

                    And I'm glad you posted this here. I thought that's what Chowhound was all about. Posting of restaurant experiences. I've read many posts that have posters eating meals in their entirety, then coming on here to complain about them afterwards. So, maybe a little hypocritical. If posters followed their same advice, then there would be no post. And ultimately, no Chowhound...

                    To the servers who are afraid of angering their bosses, I ask you to think twice about who will be leaving you your tip (or not).

            3. Folks, we've removed a number of posts from this thread that were overly personal and attackish, whether on the original posters or others who've posted in the thread.

              If you've got different experiences at Bar Italia to relate, please go ahead and do so, but a general argument on whether small parties are entitled to large tables is more appropriate for the Not About Food board and personal attacks aren't appropriate anywhere.

              1. The original comment has been removed