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Carolina's versus Olive and Ivy

a
au lait Jul 13, 2009 12:37 PM

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. d
    danieli10 RE: au lait Jul 13, 2009 01:15 PM

    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. JK Grence the Cosmic Jester RE: au lait Jul 13, 2009 01:45 PM

      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. w
        woodandfine RE: au lait Jul 13, 2009 05:03 PM

        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. lawyerbriefs RE: au lait Jul 13, 2009 06:26 PM

          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
            d
            danieli10 RE: lawyerbriefs Jul 14, 2009 09:51 AM

            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
              silverbear RE: lawyerbriefs Jul 14, 2009 05:31 PM

              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
                JK Grence the Cosmic Jester RE: silverbear Jul 14, 2009 05:38 PM

                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
                  silverbear RE: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester Jul 14, 2009 05:40 PM

                  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
                    JK Grence the Cosmic Jester RE: silverbear Jul 14, 2009 05:49 PM

                    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
                      winedubar RE: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester Jul 14, 2009 11:55 PM

                      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
                        JK Grence the Cosmic Jester RE: winedubar Jul 15, 2009 02:42 AM

                        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
                    lawyerbriefs RE: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester Jul 14, 2009 05:45 PM

                    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
                      Firenza00 RE: lawyerbriefs Jul 14, 2009 07:08 PM

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

              2. c
                crsin RE: au lait Jul 14, 2009 08:39 PM

                I really don't see what the problem is with a former restaurant owner (or even a current one) voicing their opinion on another restaurant--being in a certain field does not mean they must forever be silent and lead others to believe they are not average, paying diners like the rest of us, entitled to pass judgement and express it in a community of those interested. Where it absolutely crosses the line is if it's bashing a restaurant for envy's sake, or for the purpose of trying to funnel the business to themselves, which didn't happen here. But I digress...

                I've dined in a few of the Fox restaurants throughout the valley (years ago, mind you), and have never been impressed. Something about the couple I've tried just turned me off. I think it's primarily the hyper-sleek atmospheres coupled with uninspiring, ho-hum food. It tends to seem like they pour all of their energy into putting together a great-looking spot, then used whatever they had left to make some innocuous food to match the feel of the restaurant. It just doesn't drive me (or any friends who I have discussed this with, who tend to agree) to go back, or to try any of the multitude of others I have not dined in. That said, I don't recall ever having poor service.

                1 Reply
                1. re: crsin
                  d
                  danieli10 RE: crsin Jul 14, 2009 11:40 PM

                  Full disclosure, I am not a restauranteur. Just a foodie since age 10. Although, I've spent many hours prior to completing college and graduate school working in bars, restaurants, catering, and event planning, but that was a long time ago from where I sit now!

                2. p
                  Poerz RE: au lait Jul 15, 2009 08:31 AM

                  When Olive & Ivy first opened it had a very experienced and accomplished chef and I believe the intent was to serve memorable food. What happened - whether by design or not - is that O&I became a scene, the chef left and the food is what it is. Personally, I have enjoyed other Fox restaurants but O&I does nothing for me. As for Carolina's, well that's a different story. Really terrific food and always busy. But the neighborhood and the exterior of the place - well, the interior too I guess - are cetainly nothing to write home about. I don't think anyone would go there for the first time unless they had been told how good it is.

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