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May 29, 2009 01:50 PM

Neptune Oyster Owner Really Unpleasant!

Hit the place with some business associates on Tuesday both of whom take their food VERY seriously. Father and son, they are both serious world travellers and are not at all hesitant to pay for a top notch meal. Both are serious amateur cooks as well. When last year I brought the father fresh mackerel I caught, he ate them raw, because "fish that good did not deserve to be cooked." I had been telling them how wonderful the place was for a while.

While one of us went to park the car, two of us sat at the bar to have a drink and some oysters and proceeded to get totally ignored by the bartender (who I later found out was the owner) even though the bar was essentially empty.

With some hand waving he finally came over and was repeatedly obnoxious and rude.

When he grudgingly takes our oyster order absolutely nothing happens, and the shucker who was at the oyster bar is completely gone. After a 10 minute wait, still no beverage or oysters or even some of the crackers one other customer at the bar had in front of her. I ask, again only after gesticulating desperately to get a shred of attention: "will those oysters be along soon?" The reply: "you'll get your oysters," nothing more."

I could say more but it would just be boring. He continued to be obnoxious the entire time we were at the bar. My buddy basically made it clear it was some of the worst service he had ever received in Boston and that he would under no circumstance consider eating there again. And this was all before I found out, after a phone call the next day to share my experience, that it was the owner. It was the Chef Michael Serpa with whom I spoke and the person who clued me in to the fact that I had been served by the owner, not some random bartender. Michael was kind enough to offer some gift certificate, etc and if it was an employee I would have taken him up on it, but such abuse coming from an owner is just unacceptable, period.

I would credit this to a bad day, who knows? But after conferring with a few other hounds, another friend had a nearly identical experience with "Jeff" the owner of Neptune.

Honestly, in this post I am being kind. Even with a gift certificate I would not suffer such abuse a second time. He was such a jerk he really deserved to be slugged. Much as I like the food, I can't conscious giving such a person any business ever again.

One post script is that I was not going to post on this at all, everyone has a bad day, until I had realized that a friend had the same experience.

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  1. Wow. Shockingly disappointing. Sounds like an excellent case for absentee ownership.


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        1. Utterly the opposite of dozens of experiences I've had with the man. Not saying it didn't happen, but it strikes me as odd.

          8 Replies
          1. re: MC Slim JB

            Another hound who shall remain nameless had the identical experience independent of the night I had.

            1. re: StriperGuy

              He's definitely not an obsequious, fawning type of restaurant personality, but in my experience shows umistakable professional hospitality chops: he's attentive, interested in educating diners about the menu and the wines, has a kind of calm equanimity.

              I'd definitely be pissed if I got the kind of treatment you describe; it just doesn't jibe at all with my own experiences. Gotta believe his cat died that day, or hemorrhoidal flare-up, or something.


              1. re: MC Slim JB

                Agreed. Not the ass-kissing type. A bit of an odd duck, perhaps, but I'm okay with that. I have enjoyed sitting at his bar many times, and I have to say that the OP's experience is odd... had to have been a bad day, or something like that. Hopefully he'll give it another shot (the OP, that is). Maybe wait for a table if he's not interested in dealing with the owner.

                1. re: MC Slim JB

                  To flesh this out a tad more, once he had done a little detective work to figure out that the bartender had in fact been the owner, even the Chef, Serpa did not sound surprised when I implied that I had had a bad experience at the bar the night before.

                  There is a reason they call it the hospitality business, and none of us were feeling it on Tuesday. I don't mind a little rough service at Durgin Park, or a restaurant run by recent immigrants who might not undertand the niceties of Americanized "service." But at a high end place, from an owner, just no excuse.

                  I really liked Neptune, plugged it to countless friends, and woud NOT have posted if this was a one-off experience.

                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                    Wow. I concur with Slim on this—but then you all knew I'd say that. But really, he was nothing but gracious to me from the first week, well before I became a regular. Ditto the staff.

                    Either way, so sorry to hear it, Striperguy. I'm sure our good experiences don't take the sting out of your bad one.

                  2. re: StriperGuy

                    Make that three, though I didn't know he was the owner until you started this thread. I chalked it up to an off day at the time, as we all have them. I didn't post for exactly the same reason, I thought it was an isolated incident.

                    Now that I think about it, while the rest of the bar staff has always been pleasant enough (though certainly not service I would gush over) to me, I have witnessed some fairly indifferent service toward other customers (particularly those who are clearly tourist types). The fish rots from the head and the owner's capricious treatment of customers may be rubbing off on the rest of the staff.

                    1. re: Gabatta

                      Part of the reason I started the thread is that I instinctively knew that if he had be so harsh to two of us, others must have also had a similar experience.

                      Funny thing is I am typically low maintenance in restaurants. I never send anything back. As other hounds know I'll eat just about anything. Pidgeon heads at BLR anyone? ;-)

                      I have been in jobs where I have heavily interacted with customers and clients all of my life. Early on in a retail environment. I personally enjoy it, it is part of the fun. Any owner in the hospitality realm had better, or had better leave the front of the house to someone else.

                  3. re: MC Slim JB

                    I was thinking exactly the same thing as Slim...strikes me as VERY odd...all of a sudden Jeff is self-destructing..

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