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Jul 13, 2009 12:37 PM

Carolina's versus Olive and Ivy

Speaking of great versus terrible service.

Many posters have noted Carolina’s great food especially anything wrapped in a tortilla and its proximity to the Airport Rental Car Return location.

I left Scottsdale with just enough time to stop at Carolina’s, drop off the rental car, take the shuttle to the terminal and make the flight.

I knew where Carolina’s was located but not which streets to take and I found myself caught in an industrial area where none of the streets went through to Mohave. It was like a bad dream. The deeper I drove into the industrial area, with no through streets, the further I was driving away from Carolina’s and the airport the less likely I was to make the flight .

And time was running out.

When finally arrived at Carolina’s it was noon, the place was packed and there was a line to back of the room.

But the line is moving, I’m hungry for something wrapped in a homemade tortilla so I stay in line as I watch the time certain there is no way I can both receive my food order and make the flight.

When the counter person asks what I want, I ask how long it will take knowing I’m out of time, but she, without me saying a thing, sees I am clearly in a hurry and says “I can get it for you right away no wait”. As I walk away from the counter I think even though I’ve ordered and paid I should leave now and not miss the flight. As I start to leave, the counter person calls to me and hands my order out and says thank you.

I race to Car Rental Return, take the shuttle, jog to security and arrive at the gate as the flight begins boarding.

Now, compare the wonderful service at the” hole in the wall” Carolina’s, with the” service “at Olive and Ivy, the night before, by a bored, unconcerned bartender at this overpriced, chain restaurant in Scottsdale, coupled with the lack of sincere interest by its manager: you must know the look, from someone pretending to care but clearly has more important things to do then to take the time to determine how to satisfy a patron’s clearly bothersome, unimportant complaint.

How is it that corporate places like Olive and Ivy flourish but thank you for real restaurants like Carolina’s where the non owner staff pay attention to their patrons and posses an IQ above that of a dry martini.

Excuse the ending rant but I so hate wasting good mood and money in corporate- robotic places like Olive and Ivy.

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  1. Thank you for the feedback on both places. I was under the impression that Olive & Ivy was one of a kind, so far. Yes, it is part of the Sam Fox Restaurant Group/corporation, but not exactly a chain. Your review is good in that Olive & Ivy is not exactly a compelling place to go, except for the location, and poor service won't help change that.

    1. That just about exactly echoes my sentiments of Olive & Ivy. I went in there a couple of years ago, eyeing the gelato counter and espresso menu. The two people behind the counter were wrapped up in their conversation while cleaning the espresso machine. They might have made eye contact with me once or twice. Either way, I stood there for a couple of minutes to see if they would acknowledge my presence, and left empty-handed. I guess I committed some sort of faux pas by not having the valet take care of a Maserati or some other exotic car. It's a crying shame that places like Olive & Ivy flourish while incredible places like Digestif right across the canal have to downsize into tiny digs.

      1. My sentiments exactly.

        At my friends' behest, I patronized Olive & Ivy several times. The servers in the dining area, on all occasions, were fine.

        Sitting at the bar, however, was a different story. I've had thee different female bartenders who were equally rude and absent a lot of the time.

        I don't find the food at O & I to be remarkable enough to warrant spotty service and relatively high prices.

        1. The original comment has been removed
          1. I disagree with the statements about Sam Fox and Fox Restaurant Concepts. I have almost always had very good food and excellent service at Fox restaurants in Tucson: North, Montana Avenue, Sauce, Wildflower, Zin Bistro (RIP) and Zin Burger. I did eat at Olive and Ivy once and thought it was fine. Not wonderful, but fine. That all said, Fox Restaurants aren't cutting edge, but I think they provide very good value and it's been my experience, mostly in Tucson, that customers come first and you don't have to be "fancy people" to get decent treatment!

            9 Replies
            1. re: lawyerbriefs

              I agree with lawyerbriefs on this one. North and Bloom have been consistent favorites. Sauce is decent. I haven't been to his more recent creations.

              1. re: lawyerbriefs

                Well said. I've had decent meals at Sauce and one of the Zin places in Tucson. It's fine not to be thrilled by the Fox restaurants, but the mean-spirited statements above are unseemly -- especially when one restaurateur is criticizing another.

                1. re: silverbear

                  When a guest walks into a restaurant, they should be greeted immediately. If the staff is in the middle of doing something, somebody needs to put down what they're doing and go say hello. Refusing to acknowledge a guest's presence is absolutely inexcusable no matter the circumstances.

                  1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                    Yes, but it was one incident from a few years ago. Time to let O & I out of the penalty box unless you have more recent experiences to report.

                    1. re: silverbear

                      Considering that friends of mine have recently reported back with very similar stories in other parts of the restaurant, no chance.

                      1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                        i'm with you, jk. places that are scene above food are hardly chow-worthy. i can't believe this thread has dragged on this long. what next, someone will post longingly about pink taco?

                        the last time i had a memorable meal (in a good way) at a fox concepts place was at taneko, when the place first opened, oh and the greene house, before michael stebner left...

                        since then, it's a big ole 'meh'. sam fox is good at what he does. and what he does is make bright shiny scenes. it's not about the food.

                        1. re: winedubar

                          Taneko wasn't Sam Fox. It was PF Chang's. My problem with them was different. They took what should be casual bar food and tried to turn it into something high end.

                    2. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                      I agree wholeheartedly, but that conduct in one instance does not justify nasty comments about an entire company.

                      P.S. Is someone in this chain a restaurant owner? Seems like that status ought to be identified. It's a sore point, as Chowhound has deleted my posts about a Tucson restaurant because, for a Primavera Foundation--Tucson homeless support group--fundraiser, I was an apprentice chef at the restaurant. Bias, apparently!

                      1. re: lawyerbriefs

                        Yes, at least one poster in this thread has owned a restaurant in the recent past.