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Service for "regulars" vs everyone else

Recent trip to Cape Cod and my DH and I went to a casual cafe for lunch. It wasn't listed in any of the food guidebooks but we were in a tiny town, it was way past lunchtime and we were starving. I guess I should have known better.

The cafe had 10 tables (5 were already filled) being served by 2 women. I gathered that the older waitress was the owner and/or manager as she was ordering the younger woman around.

A few minutes after we were seated, the table next to us was filled by a couple who were obviously regulars since they greeted both women by their first names. This meant there were now 7 filled tables. The older waitress stopped at their table and proceeded to have an extended conversation with them. Meanwhile, we were waiting for someone to bring us menus. The younger women finally brought them and after further waiting/flagging down the younger waitress, we eventually got our order in. Unfortunately, this was the level of service (or should I say level of non service) for the entire meal.

The older waitress was constantly stopping by the table where the regulars were sitting - asking if they wanted more water, jumping to get them extra cutlery, plates, chatting to them - while mostly ignoring the other tables, including us. At the end of the meal, she came by with the check and said "oh sorry, I feel like I ignored you " I just stared at her. Duh! What do you think? ?

Am I correct to be irked by the fact the regulars received stellar service while I did not? Or is that to be expected because they are repeat customers?

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  1. If you're just looking to vent, then say so. Otherwise, why are you even asking? But I'll answer. Yes and yes.

    1. Yes, you have a right to feel irked and an outsider. Then again, you don't know the relationship of the party being fawned over by the older waitress. They may be long time friends outside the restaurant or they may just be long time customers.

      I've been on the receiving end of good service at some places because I'm a regular or in some places a very good tipper and it's obvious the waitress is jumping through hoops for me. Then some places I'm just a customer and I see regulars being given the royal treatment.

      1. You said it was a casual cafe and not in any of the guide books, so you have to figure their bread and butter is going to be locals. You also said it was a tiny town and they depend on those regulars to pay their bills.

        Don't take it so hard. Yes, you're an outsider there.

        1. You have a right to feel irked and it is good you understand the regular versus one-timer that can happen. Being a one trick pony at a restaurant supported by regulars is something that occurs and when on the receiving end it is troubling. On the other side of the coin, when you spend lotys of money and numerous visits you deserve some extra TLC. So jfood does not have a problem with making sure your regulars are treated as family. But in fairness there is a minimum of service that is expected. But since you did not mention any guffaws it appears you received good service, just not the service the others received.

          But it is not just regulars. Jfood ate solo last night at a great local reestaurant for the first time. There were two 8-tops and several other tables with 3 servers. They completely ignored jfood so he did not even have a server. The bartender needed to come around the bar to describe the specials, take his order, and perform all the server duties. He did his best but this was his second focus. Jfood had the minimum service so it was not that big a deal, but definitely different from the lartger tables around him that were fawned over. He enjoyed the food and gave the bartender a nice tip for stepping up for the absentee servers.

          So as c oliver stated yes and yes.

          2 Replies
          1. re: jfood

            **But in fairness there is a minimum of service that is expected. But since you did not mention any guffaws it appears you received good service, just not the service the others received.**

            Well, it's good that people weren't laughing at them!

            I agree that there's a minimum of service -- and courtesy -- that is expected. But people who spend money at a business on a regular basis do *earn* extra attention.

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              Yup RL and that is the point jfood was making. Sorry if unclear

          2. I understand you being irked, but it is to be expected. Dh and I are regulars at a number of places and last night we stopped into a place for a beer where we are not regulars and while the service was good, we understood we were not on par with the rest of the bar. We spent $14 before tip, $20 with tip.....these regulars are the ones who carry the bar and their staff.

            But in your case, it sounds like you got subpar service that was below what should be expected.

            1. THey are entitled to receive stellar service; you are entitled to receive good service.

              26 Replies
              1. re: Karl S

                Agreed. When you become a regular, you'll get the stellar service, too. It's an inadvertent psychological incentive. If you were just in town for the day, you won't be missed. I agree that it's perhaps not fair, but it's common. If I frequent a bar, the bartenders will often buy us a round of drinks. This encourages us to return. The couple next to us is in the bar for the first time, and the bartender charges them for each round. Maybe next time they'd get one on the house. Who knows?

                1. re: almansa

                  I would never become a regular at a place that treated me badly the first time.

                  1. re: BeaN

                    there's a lot of ground inbetween not being treated like a regular and being treated badly

                      1. re: c oliver

                        Having to flag down a server just to place an order would do it for me. Unless there was no other place to eat or the food was the best around, I'd be hard pressed to return.

                        This happened to us at a popular breakfast spot at St Petersburg Beach on Corey Avenue. On a weekday morning when they weren't crowded, we were ignored by the wait staff in favor of a table of obvious regulars. What they didn't know is that we were also local people who had been searching for a breakfast spot. The food was good there but we never went back. They have a captive audience of tourists and weekend beach visitors, though, so they don't have to offer everyone good service.

                        1. re: BeaN

                          Having to flag down a server just to place an order would do it for me. Unless there was no other place to eat or the food was the best around, I'd be hard pressed to return.
                          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                          Without knowing how long you were seated or given menus before you had to flag down a server.......generally, you close your menu and that is signal you are ready to order.

                          Servers are not mind readers and sometimes people like to to sit leisurely and advance a slower pace. If you need speedier service, you should mention it when you are seated to avoid and complications or angst. It seems to me like you are a little too easily offended with this one.

                          1. re: fourunder

                            I have not found menu closing to be of any use in the United States. In other countries sure, but it's not a custom that is as widespread here as elsewhere.

                            1. re: queencru

                              queencru,

                              If it's not a custom here in the States, how do I know about it?

                              ;o)

                              For what it's worth, in my four decades of being involved in both the private sector and corporate world of restaurants......every server was trained to know this signal as the appropriate time to approach the table and see if any questions needed to be answered or take the table's order.

                              1. re: fourunder

                                I always close my menu when I'm ready to order and have always thought of it as a signal (in the U.S.) that one is ready to order.

                                1. re: MMRuth

                                  as a little noodle, my parents taught me closing the menu was the signal to the staff i was ready to order.

                                  later, when working as a server, i was flabbergasted by how many diners were ignorant of this simple gesture. absorbed in conversation, menus open, no eye contact made and then waving wildly when they felt they had been *ignored*.

                                  if the place was nearly full off-time and off-season, they must do most things right, most of the time.

                                  when people have a negative experience at a restaurant, they tell a minimum of 10 people. when they have a good-to-great evening they tell one or two.

                                  i wouldn't scorch the earth on this joint, especially if it's an area you visit occasionally, but i might plan a bit more to have a better meal. if somebody asked, i'd be honest about the skew to the locals. that's it. especially if the food was decent.

                                  i have had some really crappy meals on the advice of guide books, so i don't use them as a ruler. off the beaten path, i order simply, and don't expect much. most often i am pleasantly surprised. i really have a much more live-and-let-live attitude while vacationing.

                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                    In my experience here in the United States, it never seems to have any success. Elsewhere, I've noticed that it does tend to work better. It may depend on the region, but I don't find that people I know have been taught that it is a sign that you are ready to order, either from the serving or the guest end.

                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                      If we're ordering something simple, we close and collect the menus in a stack. But, if I don't know how to pronounce something and need to point to it then it feels redundant to close the menu to open it again.

                                      1. re: chowser

                                        I do exactly that: close menu, then open again when server returns, precisely because it does seem to be a signal that works. I've certainly seen servers glance at my table and if we're talking with menus open, go elsewhere, but if chatting with menus closed, come to take our order, so I feel it's effective.

                                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                          Do you collec the menus? That's my norm but I hang onto it. I have glanced at the waiter/waitress but don't want to be pushy. I'm not normally in a hurry to order but I want them to know i'm ready to order. I haven't been in a while but I like those Brazilian steak houses where they give you a table topper. Red on top if you're all set, green on top when you need something. Takes all the guestwork out of it.

                                          1. re: chowser

                                            The only time I've collected menus is when collecting and stacking at the edge of the table as a pointed visual cue when we've been ready to order for some time and have had no attention from a server despite menus closed. A rare occurance.

                                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                              I'm into efficiency. It's always seemed to make sense to collect menus (I should clarify within my family, not when eating with friends) and passing them all at once to the server when we're done ordering, rather than each person ordering and passing the menu to the server which gives them one more thing to do. I do about 90% of my dining out w/ my family so it's what I think of first.

                                              1. re: chowser

                                                You just reminded me of a major irritation in most restaurants in a lot of Asia and Latin America: the server almost always brings one or maybe two menus to the table no matter how large the group. But its just the way things are done!!

                                                1. re: chowser

                                                  I think the reason people generally keep the menus when I'm dining out is precisely in case someone needs or wants to refer back to his or her menu. In situations where we're agreeing on a variety of things to share and one person speaks to the server to order it all, we'll often stack the menus and the designated orderer will keep a menu to refer to. I've never seen passing menus to a server after ordering as a big loss of efficiency. It's not as if the server has to walk around the table collecting each individually.

                                            2. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                              Yes, I do that too - close the menu so that the server knows I'm ready to order (and remind my husband to do the same if needed), and then open the menu again if I need to refer to a dish when the server arrives to take our order.

                                              1. re: MMRuth

                                                Yes, along with the reminder to my husband :)

                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                  I snap the menu closed with a loud "pop" and slam it down on the table. That gets their attention!

                                                  1. re: Scargod

                                                    Oh, yeah, I'm sure they're VERY impressed. VERY.

                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                      i thought your were supposed to snap whistle and yell "gar-kon."

                                                      1. re: thew

                                                        I'm beginning to understand why *I* get good service no matter where I am. :)

                                    2. re: fourunder

                                      It's not the menu incident, that happens plenty of times when the meal goes on to be lovely.

                                      In this experience, the menu was just the start. They weren't busy. There was plenty of waitstaff. We just ceased to exist when the table of regulars came in.

                                      My husband and I are not ogres; there's a special place waiting in hell for people who abuse waitstaff, IMO (mom raised five as a single parent waitressing). I know to close a menu. I think that I deserve the same service as the next customer.

                                      There is a restaurant where I am a regular and am known by face and name. They provide me with the same service that they have given from the start - decent.

                                      I'm not looking to be treated like a celebrity. I'm looking to be treated like you might like me to come back.

                        2. I think it's always nice to dote on your regulars a little bit. A free dessert or drinks here and there, just to show them you appreciate them. Of course you stop and ask them about whatever it is you talk to them about on a regular basis, if you have the chance. You don't languish them with attention at the sake of alienating your other guests. It's fine to stop and talk after you know everyone else is happy and content, but if a guest is watching you chat up another table while they're waiting for a refill, there are going to be complaints.
                          Where I work, we have many regulars, some of them being celebrities that we all talk to on a regular basis. I don't think any of them would ever expect us to ignore other tables to ask them about their latest movie.
                          Even though they aren't in the tour books, many people read online review sites and knowing that they treat non-regulars with indifference could mean a lot of lost revenue. Consistency is key in successful restaurants.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Azizeh

                            I was at a very fine restaurant a couple years ago (and it is much too expensive for me to be a regular). The table next to us was clearly friends with the chef or owner. The tables were very close together, such that the chef or owner was standing between our tables with his butt essentially in my face as they chatted for a long time. It was a *real* turn-off.

                            1. re: DGresh

                              This made me laugh out loud. I know it wasn't pleasant at the time, but I might have been tempted to poke the offensive behind(s) with a fork with a feigned "oops, terribly sorry".

                              1. re: Caralien

                                I've experienced this similar situation many times from staff, but what really is rude is when another customer receives a cellular telephone call and leaves his table, only to stick his butt in your face(or space).

                                What works for me is a simple.....

                                "Excuse me, but can you get your a** out of my face and away from my table"

                          2. "I guess I should have known better."

                            i'm really not quite sure what that implies.

                            if i'm the only not-regular in a tiny cafe in a tiny town, i'm not going to take it personally if the regulars are getting better service. they're the ones keeping the place open and helping the servers pay their rent. i know get much better service in the places i frequent than do lots of other patrons.

                            it doesn't really sound like "terrible service", just not the solicitous sort your neighbors were getting.

                            besides, on vacation, i have a much greater capacity to exhale. have a turkey sandwich, relax, enjoy the local color then be on your way.

                            1. I have to say that this is a sore spot with me and one reason why I will never visit Sally's Apizza in New Haven, CT. At Sally's, they go so far as to give regulars a special, unlisted phone number to call and they hold a table for them and they go straight in at the agreed upon time. So, while ordinary folks stand outside for hours, insiders can make a reservation and get preferential treatment. Outsiders are sometimes dished out a type of indifferent service that borders on punishment for just wanting to eat one of their famous pizzas. I'm not interested in masochism for pizza.

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: Scargod

                                Well, THAT does sound extreme and I wouldn't go there either. Sheesh.

                                1. re: Scargod

                                  Gads, god, thanks! We're having a 100 person corporate retreat outside of New Haven and were going to have SALLY'S APIZZA bring in our lunches on alternating days. No more.

                                  Pure lie, of course; but SALLY'S do take notice!!!!

                                  1. re: Scargod

                                    Scar, I could give you the number but it wouldn't help. You gotta really earn your stripes and be a paisan for a long time. Being Italian is not essential, but demonstrating a love of everything Italian is. It's about a 20 year hazing process.

                                    1. re: Scargod

                                      Scargod,

                                      On my first and only Sally's pilgrimage, I took my niece and nephew there, who were both attending nearby Quinnipiac University. When we arrived at the location we were the second group on line waiting for them to open, and a large line formed quickly behind us.....I thought to myself, very impressive. When the doors opened at 5:00 PM, we were promptly seated and we immediately placed our order for three pizzas. I forget how many tables were in the place, but for arguments sake, let say there were 15 tables........all 14 others got served before we received our pizzas...almost an hour later........not so impressive.

                                      I liked the pizzas, but when I'm on Wooster I'll stick with Frank Pepe's.

                                      1. re: Scargod

                                        seems we keep having this same conversation on many threads...........

                                        the special number is given as a reward for long term patronage, etc.

                                        ever notice that elite level of frequent flyers can board the plane immediately, not wait for their row to be called?

                                        Gold card members have special reservation numbers to call, etc.

                                        A small family owned restaurant is entitled to have perks for its frequent an loyal diners.

                                        As stated before, I've dined at Sally's for more than 50 years (and I'm only 55). I am honored to have been given the special number by Flo, but I don't abuse it or flaunt it.

                                        1. re: bagelman01

                                          Bagelman is right on. This may be painful for some to hear but if a restaurant is busy just from regulars, there is a line when they open and they have been open for 50+ years and don't have a 2nd location, they don't care if you come back. Everyone who works in a restaurant wishes they could be the Soup Nazi, its just that most of us will go out of business if we do. Kudos to Sallys.

                                      2. Jfood, I did not receive good service.. I received NO service except what was given after either my husband or myself literally waved our hands and caught the attention of the other waitress. This was the case for getting menus, having our order taken, asking for cutlery, getting more water etc. I would have gotten up and scrounged for the water pitcher if I had known where it was. We would have gotten up and left, if not for the fact that there were not many food options in the immediate area (it was the off-season).

                                        I would have said something to the older waitress when she brought the check but wasn't sure if I was correct in saying something and whether that type of feedback is appropriate.

                                        However, Karl S and Azizeh's answers make sense and with hindsight I should have said something . Since it was the off-season, the waitresses wouldn't have known if we were tourists or locals (with the potential to become "regulars"). Fact is, we go up there often, have friends who live there and other friends who have been vacationing there since they were little. Unfortunately, this is one place we are telling everyone we know to avoid.

                                        16 Replies
                                        1. re: SeoulQueen

                                          Thanks for the follow up SQ. Receiving no service is not receiving the minimum service jfood stated in his post and KArl and Azizeh phrased much better.

                                          But jfood is not sure that this is cause for trashing thevplace and telling people never to go. That seems a bit overkill. Jfood has had bad experiences, much worse than having to wave to get the attention of someone and you already have an explanation as to the probable cause. If you liked the food why not go back and remind the elderly server who you think is the owner that you were the people who she apologized to the last visit. Bet you get great service and become what you wanted while you sat there the first time.

                                          Jfood never understands this immediate scorched earth theory that seems so prevelent today.

                                            1. re: jfood

                                              I've received some of the best service ever in off-season.
                                              I don't think you should need to go back and ask that you be treated better since they screwed up the last time.
                                              I do agree that places should usually be given a second chance. SQ, Perhaps it was your perfume that they couldn't stand? Who knows?

                                                1. re: jfood

                                                  I'm saying go back, but don't ask that they treat you well this time, as if they owe you a favor. Either they remember you or do better. Perhaps the first time was an anomaly, but no groveling for what should be normal, good treatment.

                                              1. re: jfood

                                                jfood, get a grip! SeoulQueen and company go to an unknown Cape Cod cafe and, frankly, get treated like shit. Why in the world should they ever go back? And not going back is in no way an "immediate scorched earth theory". And SQ asked if she should be irked. I would be irked. It is your words, "...for trashing thevplace and telling people never to go...". That is NOT what SQ said.

                                                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                  Well she said "Unfortunately, this is one place we are telling everyone we know to avoid." Sure sounds to me like trashing the place and telling people never to go. Speaking for myself, if that happened to me I'd never go back and I'd certainly never recommend it but I wouldn't tell everyone I know to avoid it - if they were 70% full at an off-peak time I'd think they're probably pretty good, usually, and I just had bad luck.

                                                  1. re: hsk

                                                    the store/contracter/restaurant WHATEVER stepped in it ,both feet ,past knee deep
                                                    I agree with speak up and warn others off .Trade is something EARNED ,not a PC excercise in waffleing and psycho babble.
                                                    A well regarded latin "neighborhood" restaurant had a skewed way of doing things in the service department.The quieter/slower the evening was when the service went to hell in a high powered hand cart,BUT NOT SHORT OF STAFF as an excuse.Sooooooooo one quiet evening we entered addressed the "problem" with front door and wait staff .Got the old rah rah yeah yeah oh my yada yada So we were seated ,received ABYSMAL drink and app service.
                                                    So instead of DH ,mister generous and nice,they got me IN SPANISH .All of a sudden the worm turned.The service became fawning and obsequious.A bit greasy and "slanted' FOR OUR TASTE.So we drank up,ate our now cold apps and left.3 years later have yet to return.Have warned many away AND hear the same old same old from others that have been recently.
                                                    There are some levels of arrogance the store should not step to and expect me to suck up. 70% full at off peak is one of them.Good or not ,bad luck is BS.
                                                    If you are "open for business" it is for one and all,Not just friends,locals and regulars,first impressions DO COUNT.More importantly;what if you are being shopped and the visit is skewed.You loose more than 1 customer.Success and luck are not the same thing.

                                                  2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                    Gripping hard to the chair:

                                                    - Getting no service is being ignored, not getting "shitty" service. If that is your definition of shitty service there are plenty of stories jfood can tell you. The service jfood received the last two nights are just slightly above what SQ received and you will note that jfood left two very good reviews of both of these places.
                                                    - And jfood is readig and reacting to the line "Unfortunately, this is one place we are telling everyone we know to avoid". That is absolutely trashing the place. Is the sequel to this line "...because the food was wonderful and we loved the place" or "because we got shitty service and were completely ignored." So jfood will stand by his trash the place comment.

                                                    Jfood stated he would be irked as well.

                                                    Grip released.

                                                    1. re: jfood

                                                      jfood

                                                      I can't find where Sam mentions "shitty service"
                                                      He does however refer to being treated like shit .I don't see the phrasing as interchangable or synonymous.
                                                      reviews of "very good" where you received less than "very good" service IN THE SERVICE INDUSTRY at a restaurant where one pays and TIPS to be served is ? a tad ? incomplete ? disingenuous

                                                      1. re: lcool

                                                        Lcool,

                                                        - Jfood does see the two terms as both interchangeable and synonymous. Different strokes and interpretations, and no biggie.

                                                        - Jfood was pretty specific in his reviews of the service he received or did not receive from his two visits and they are described in pretty good detail on the midwest board for Pak Zam Zam and Ngon. Take a look at those. Jfood does not think he was incomplete or disingenuous on either of those.

                                                        Jfood also thinks there is a different expectation level between Tony's Hot Dog Stand and Per Se. A cafe in Cape Cod is more like the former versus the latter, but being ignored is something that is below the minimum expectations in either place.

                                                        Ciao lcool.

                                                        1. re: jfood

                                                          did read them,as reviews go they were excellent
                                                          however the "rating" of an establishment is not the same as the "writing" of
                                                          or the ;would you recommend it if asked ? how most of us make dining choices

                                                          1. re: lcool

                                                            Agreed that the rating and the writing are different, good points. The service at Tony's Hot Dog Stand may get a 10 because the guy said good morning and delivered the food correctly and quickly. That would not garner a 10 at Per Se. Take a look at Zagats (just an example) and you will see that some pizzerias have a higher service score than some high end restaurants. Different expectations at different places.

                                                            And here is what jfood would say as an elevator speech for both the restaurants he alluded to:

                                                            Ngon - "The confit appetizer was fantastic and i recommend it as a must have. The short rib entree I ate could have been better and i understand others have more flavors, like the duck but i did not want two duck dishes. I am allergic to nuts so i could not get my first choice of desserts, the cheesecake, and the brulee was pretty good, but was not a traditional creamy, custardy brulee. I ate there as a single and the two waitress were swamped with other tables so the bartender came out from behind the bar to assist. I am definitely going back to try other dishes."

                                                            Pak Zam Zam - "The food had great flavor and if you never tasted Pakistani food this would be a good place to start. Be adviced that the interior looks like an empty refrigerator with no ambience at all and the owner kids are watching TV in one corner. The food is served with minimal service but if you go with a couple of friends and share a bunch of dishes you will have a good time with very flavorful food."

                                                            This is basically what other posters on the Midwest board described the two as well and jfood went to both.

                                                            Hope that helps.

                                                2. re: SeoulQueen

                                                  honest feedback is always appropriate.

                                                  1. re: SeoulQueen

                                                    You would think off season they would be far more inclined to give you decent service as the off season is the time when they are "starved" for customers in the biz, (pun intended). I would top them accordingly (see 5%) and do exactly what you did, alert everyone I know of the poor service given. I am in the biz myself and during the lean months worked harder to OBTAIN and RETAIN a customer than I did during the fat times.

                                                  2. I've been at both ends of this -- i.e. being regulars (bi-weekly) at a Sichuan hole-in-the-wall back home, or our go-to sushi place here in Berlin, as well as spending a good deal of money for an anniversary dinner at a place where we were neglected in lieu of a table full of regulars who, when it came time for our check, got a full-blown digestif-tasting by the waiter....

                                                    I'd say the annoyance of being neglected is about the same level as the enjoyment of being treated special.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: linguafood

                                                      And it's unnecessary. Treating you, my regular customer with special care does not mean that I have to neglect my other patrons.

                                                    2. SeoulQueen, I'd be royally irked by that sort of treatment, too, and unless I really loved the food, I wouldn't return. It's not that I resent regulars getting great service; it's that I resent not having even decent service, myself.

                                                      As a side point, in the past, when it's taken me a long time to even receive a menu (think longer than 10 minutes), I've sometimes gotten up and helped myself to some from the hostess station. Sometimes that's enough to inspire staff to pay attention.

                                                      Also, if you're in / around Cape Cod often, I just 'discovered' a great poster with the handle "ciclista" who's been posting so informed reviews of area restaurants, including a lot of lesser-known local places. Hopefully you'll find a place that treats you as you ought to be treated and serves great food.

                                                      (here's a thread with one of ciclista's recent posts: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/626682

                                                      )

                                                      Anyway, I hear you. I've seen and experienced incidents like this, before. In some instances, I've suspected that differential service had to do with factors other than being a 'regular' or non-regular. But the best thing to do for your own sake is to try not to let all that fester. Just move on and never go back.

                                                      1. I didnt read all the posts...but that kind of treatment is just plain unprofessional. Esp. in a tourist area there could be word of mouth-bad or good. And the owner knew it and did nothing. Disgusting. Hey, if she wants to visit w/ her pals she should have them over to her house.

                                                        1. This might double post as I accidentally hit the back button...

                                                          I never said I liked the food. I made no comment about the food. In any case, why is it considered trashing the place if I tell my friends about my bad experience and tell them to avoid it? That is my honest opinion and I am neither trashing nor praising the place, I am simply telling my friends what happened when I was there and whether I think they should go - in this case no they should not. My friends know that my DH and I are into our food and wine and will often ask us for recommendations so why on earth would I lie to them or sugar coat what happened?

                                                          Personally I base my recommendations on the overall experience - a restaurant may have great service but terrible food or terrible service but great food. Either way, there are too many restaurants that provide both great service and great food to ALL their customers -those are the ones I recommend.

                                                          But to satisfy curiousity...Unfortunately, this is one place we are telling everyone we know to avoid. Not only was the service non-existent but the food was mediocre at best. We ordered sandwiches (that was the bulk of their menu, so we expected they would be decent), however, they were on par with the plastic wrapped/ready made sandwiches that you can get at Starbucks. Despite the fact it was now past 2pm (we entered this place just before 1pm) and we were both starving, neither of us finished our sandwiches.

                                                          To end on a positive note, we had a fantastic dinner that night at Pisces near Chatham. Excellent seafood restaurant and no complaints with the service - our waitress served us plus 4 other tables adequately. Actually it was impressive since one of those tables was a group of 8.

                                                          8 Replies
                                                          1. re: SeoulQueen

                                                            SQ,

                                                            I won't get into the debate whether you have or have not trashed this place.........until now. I can vehemently confirm without question it is my opinion you have just trashed this place with this last post.

                                                            1. re: SeoulQueen

                                                              SQ
                                                              ? trashed the place,I don't think so.Honest opinions,resulting from first hand experience
                                                              have a place."Decorating" the experience with ??? nice,misleading information is just wrong.Where the exchange of $$$ is involved the fairness of the exchange is important.
                                                              Add service to the equation,the demands on the outcome increase.Honesty requires a certain amount courage and character (not the brutal mean,nasty kind) .I wonder how many posters would "decorate" an answer if asked directly about a similar experiece.
                                                              As food and beverage industry trade I wouldn't dare.Most of the people we prefer to keep company with expect honesty.If I waffled and a client or friend got ?burned,disappointed
                                                              etc I would hear about it.

                                                              1. re: SeoulQueen

                                                                SQ

                                                                As one of the posters who suggested otherwise you (and did so with lack of full data which you just added to) jfood retracts the go-back suggestion if you had no service and bad food. The combination has been experienced by all CHers.

                                                                And with the added data of the starbucks type sandwiches, jfood would not recommend nor return to a place with that combo either.

                                                                Old dogs - New tricks

                                                                1. re: jfood

                                                                  agreed. if the food sucked and you hated the service, your ire is justified. that you didn't mention bad food to begin with, i assumed the food was decent. the double whammy is a different spin.

                                                                  knowing this, it seems even stranger that the place was relatively busy off-season and off-peak. those regulars must prefer their names being known to decent chow! lol.

                                                                2. re: SeoulQueen

                                                                  Sorry - my fault for not mentioning the bad food. It was eclipsed by what we went through service wise. Based on the responses here, I have learned that I do need to speak up at the time when these things happen. However, I'm coming from a half american/half british attitude so am usually conflicted on what reaction is appropriate - which is why I posted in the first place.

                                                                  Hotoynoodle - I think it was busy because it was the off-season and there wasn't much else open in the area...

                                                                  1. re: SeoulQueen

                                                                    Yes, IMO, you "trashed" the place, and deservedly so. Even if the food were acceptable, I would say the level of non-service rated a trashing. I am anal about service, even in a diner, tho to a significantly lesser degree than in a fine dining place. It is the servers job to provide service, and not just when flagged down or if they have nothing else to do. They, in the case cited by SQ, did not do their job. Just as I readily recommend a place I enjoyed, I will just as readily report on a place I was not happy with. I would expect others to do the same.

                                                                    I only hope you left NO tip.

                                                                    1. re: al b. darned

                                                                      I very reluctantly left a 10% tip - I really wanted to leave no tip with a short note explaining why (again my American/British dilemma) but by that point I just wanted to leave.

                                                                      1. re: SeoulQueen

                                                                        You did the right thing, I too am anal about service and being dooped with slimeball upsell tactics. I leave a pittance to places such as this. I work in the biz, and I would never treat a customer like that.

                                                                  2. We had a similar situation but right in our neighborhood. I usually went to this place, with my mother in law, for lunch. We were recognized but not really considered "regulars." Then I went there with my DH for dinner. Our waitress took our order fairly quickly. Then we waited for our drinks. Meantime this other couple comes in and sits at a table close by. They were regulars and got their drinks as soon as they sat down. She proceeds to stand there, with her back to us, chatting about the kids, and everything else. It's not a big place, and only 2 waitresses, so we had to flag down the other waitress to get our drinks. 15 min. go by and our waitress is still chatting, but did take time to put their order in. Viola! They got their food first, and our order was not a complex order. The other waitress brings ours out and I get a shrimp salad instead of the chicken salad I ordered. So we wait a bit longer. She (the other one) brings out my salad and apologizes. I told her it wasn't her fault because our waitress should have been taking care of us. She tells me that "Oh, they are regulars and their kids go to school together." Like I give a hoot! When we finished and the other one brought our bill I had had enough time to calm down (can get really nasty when hungry!) I told her, loud enough for our waitress to hear, that even if they were regulars that is no way to treat your customers. We may have become regulars but now I'm not so sure. She was embarrassed and our waitress turned around and glared at us. We were offered a free dessert, but were full, so the other one insists that she make it to-go, which I took. Good food, nice restaurant, locally owned, been in business for 55 years. I still go there for lunch but my DH will never again go for dinner, which is a shame. This place is too small to lose customers. BTW - that dessert was delicious!

                                                                    Treating regulars a bit more special than the rest of us is one thing, and I can understand, but being abandoned by a waitress because of regulars is not cool!

                                                                    1. you should be irked if you didn't receive good service, regardless of any special treatment that anyone else received. however, it's impossible to know if it was due to regulars (which are everywhere) or just bad service in general.

                                                                      1. Today's newbie is tomorrow's regular (if they are treated well). It seems shortsighted if you ignore the new customer and develop a reputation for unequal treatment.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: Scargod

                                                                          Exactly. Every regular at one time made a first visit.

                                                                        2. At one time, I was familiar with most of the replies. Had read them in the past, and the new ones tonight. Still, I wish to comment, and maybe from a different perspective.

                                                                          We dine at a few spots with regularity. I always worry, when doing a review, that as a "regular," I might be getting better service than the guy, or gal, off the street.

                                                                          In very general terms, I have usually gotten very good to great service, and note these in my reviews. Still, there are the places, where I might be considered a "local."

                                                                          Do I get better service at these restaurants? I cannot be sure. I've had discussions on a few with CH regulars, whose take I greatly respect. Some have had bad experiences, regarding service, at some of these. In each case, the restaurants have treated my wife, and me, as family. Thesse other CH folk have had the opposite experience. Are they wrong? I highly doubt it. Am I wrong? No way. Was there a difference in service? It certainly looks like there was.

                                                                          Should a restaurant have one standard for their service? There does seem to be feeling that there should. However, what is a restauranteur to do? If the service staff knows the patrons, they are likely to spend a bit more time with them. Should this be to the detriment of the other patrons? No. It should not. Maybe the familarity of the staff will be a bit different, but service is service, and should be dispensed as evenly as is possible. For the stranger, it should be very good. Maybe kick it up to excellent for the "regulars."

                                                                          Since you also did not like the food, I'd never consider going back. I'd also do a complete review of your meal, and be as objective as is possible.

                                                                          Hunt