HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
May 15, 2009 07:40 PM

Smokey Blues Barbecue = Lousy Service

OK, an informal BBQ joint; how bad can it get? Well, they could simply refuse to sell you what you want. I wanted to simply try the meats, so tried to order straight-up meats w/o the other stuff: the cashier simply said no. I thought: newbie cashier, so I said: charge me for a complete “dinner”, hold the muffin and potato stuff, etc., and just give me the meat + sauce (I felt like Jack Nicholson in that movie: he ordered a side order of wheat toast, but the waitress said they did not have side orders of toast; he said give me a tuna salad sandwich on wheat toast, hold the tuna salad, and charge me for a tuna salad sandwich; waitress still said no). Still: no, you cannot; you can only have a whole slab of ribs. I left in a huff. I did not taste their Q, did not give them my money, nor will I ever.
But the real reason for this rant is what the owner said in a self-pitying interview in a local weekly (sorry, I forget which one). His windows were chemically etched, and he feared that his landlord was trying to force him out of business. Excuse me, sir: 1) you stand a good chance of failure, because all newly established food service businesses have a high rate of failure 2) when your business fails, before you blame outside forces, look inward and think hard about the customer service your business offers customers 3) I invite you to take a tour of Telegraph Ave at your convenience: start on Dwight, walk north on Telegraph, when you get to Bancroft cross the street and walk down the other side of the street; note carefully the % of windows that are etched like yours, keeping in mind that many have been repaired/replaced.
The afternoon was not a total waste: we ended up at E&J on Jack London Square (which I had not been to). We got a nice Styrofoam thingie filled with sliced beef, links, and hot sauce, and walked down to the water to enjoy our Q. Not bad, and thank heavens E&J wanted our money.
Thank you for listening. I will now sit down, open a diet soda, put on a Simpsons DVD.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Oddly enough I stopped by Smoky Blues last week to see what they were about ... and check out the sad bones of what is left of Neldham's next door.

    I had just eaten so I just picked up a menu ... which is also on their website.

    I think this may be your loss. The ribs someone ordered looked wonderful and on yelp the rating is almost five stars with lots of positive reviews on the Q.

    The ladies there weren't chatty, but nice enough and yelp also mentions a lot of good service. Perhaps you did hit someone new or filling in.

    At one time they had live music on the weekends, but they don't have it currently.

    They are not that new. They've been open since Sept 2008.

    3 Replies
      1. re: Melanie Wong

        Ah, so there is someone in there who is customer service handicapped. I can just say that they were nice to me. Since that report was when they first opened, based on the look of the ribs they remain on my to-try list ... though BBQ doesn't really figure into my list in the near future. I might go on a Friday or Saturday though since they have desserts then.

      2. re: rworange

        Another online menu with no prices listed. Lame.

      3. Places links:

        Everett and Jones Barbeque
        126 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94607

        Smokey Blues Barbeque
        3415 W Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA

        1. I actually tried to buy some potato salad to try because I REALLY love potato salad and yams were subbed w/out notice when I got my first plate of horrible, fatty ribs. This request was refused after I waited an extremely long time for my existence to be acknowledged. Different people exhibited a total lack of customer service skills on each occasion.

          The whiny interview was in the East Bay Express.

          For good ribs in this neck of the woods, go to Genovas deli, across the street from Bakesale Bettys. Their sauce kicks some serious (pig) butt.

          2 Replies
          1. re: bbq babe

            Hi babe,

            I know you didn't like the place. Sometimes you can't save someone from themselves and I'll probably stop by. At this point, I may move it up in my to try list. I will give those ribs at Geneva's a try also. Thanks for the tip.

            I removed my link to the Place record because linking to a negative review by someone who didn't eat there because of service ... given this was the first linking ... well, it seemed so ...yelp. Though, ironically, yelp's positive reviews focus on the food and tend to back up the recent East Bay Express Review by Matthew Stafford

            Stafford writes of owner Carl Jackson's oak and mesquite smoked que which is based on family recipes "The process was especially kind to our barbecued ribs: five huge, meaty dinosaur bones with lots of lusciously textured meat and just enough pig fat to keep things delectable ... the link sausage was terrific: incredibly plump, moist but not fatty, with a crackly skin and an almost creamy texture"

            The best side seems to be "Mom's Dirty Creole Red Beans and Rice, the star of the menu. Good Louisiana cooking is more or less impossible to find in the greater Bay Area, but this fragrant bowl of turkey meat, pot likker, and lush, smoky, soul-stirring red beans was the next best thing to a counter seat at the Acme."

            He wasn't crazy about the yams or potato salad, but seemed to like the black-eyed peas, corn bread and collard greens. He pretty much agrees with most everyone on yelp ... skip the pan bqq spaghetti.

            Here's is the interview for anyone who cares. In light of his comments that he feels that he is being forced out of businesss ... well ...

            1. re: rworange

              No worries, rw. You seem to go everywhere and I admire that! I sincerely hope you are treated and fed well.

              Yelp? I can't handle the sodium required to take their recommendations with the necessary salt.

              As for the Express review, maybe they have improved. I went soon after they opened because I was so happy to see another bbq place in that space. It previously was a branch of E&J with good enough food and where I was always treated very well.

              I do fell obliged to point out that the Express reviewed and featured in a cover story an advertiser in this case. Just saying.