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Bad service at Campanile -- what would you do?

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  • madop Aug 21, 2009 01:44 PM
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I have always wanted to go to grilled cheese night at Campanile, and last night was the night. Finally! I was so excited. We arrived before the doors opened at 6, got a nice table near the fountain, and then things went downhill, kind of.

It took awhile for the waitress to take our order, probably 10 to 15 minutes, but after we had our menus closed and were sitting there, obviously waiting for her to come back. We put in our order (salad, sandwiches and drinks) and asked if the sandwiches came with fries. She said they didn't so we asked for an order of fries. The salad arrived pretty quickly and it was the best salad that I have had, maybe in my life. The bib lettuce was so fresh, the herbs added an incredible freshness and it was dressed perfectly. I was in heaven. Still no drinks (beer for my husband and wine for me.) The salad was cleared.

About 10 or 15 minutes later after the salad had been cleared, my husband's beer was delivered. Still no wine for me. After waiting for quite awhile, and after realizing that the beer was enough for 2 (it was a belgian beer in a wine sized bottle) the waitress stopped by and I told her that if my wine had not already been poured, to please skip it and just bring me a glass so that I could share the beer. She apologized and said she'd forgotten my wine, but brought a beer glass propmptly.

Then we waited, and waited, and asked where our food was (very politely) and waited some more. Our sandwiches were finally brought to the table at 7:15, a full hour after we'd ordered them. This was after being told that our food would be out "momentarily" for 20 to 30 minutes. The server apologized. The front of the house manager on duty last night apologized twice. My sandwich (the Sevillana) and my husband's (classic with grilled onions and mustard) were perfect. We found out at some point that the sandwiches actually do come with fries, so those were served in abasket. We also got more salad with our sandwiches, which was unnecessary. However, my daughter's classic sandwich was burnt. It wasn't terible, but it was enought that it was very dark and had that burnt taste to me. May daughter was eating the other half though, so I just let it go. But, a $15 grilled cheese that takes an hour to make is burnt? Argh.

We were curious if they would offer anything in addition to the apologizes and thanking us for our patience (we were not at any time rude). The waitress offered us complementary dessert, which we took to go. They did not discount our bill at all.

I love Campanile and the food was fabulous. I will still go back, just a bad night on the service front. But..I'm curious what you would have done? Should they have comped us on our meal (not the whoel thing, but not charged us for one sandwich or something)? Is there some sort of standard? I must say I was surprised that they didn't offer anymore than dessert but didn't feel strongly enough to talk to the manager last night. So thought I'd put it out there to get your opinion.

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  1. I would call or write speak directly to the owner.
    Sounds like a bad night or new wait staff.
    They should be made aware so it can be addressed with staff

    1. they apologized numerous times AND comped your dessert. Sometimes restaurants...like everything else...have an off night. They did try to do something to make up for it. I'd leave it at that.

      1. That's awful! Still, complimentary dessert or occasionally drinks is pretty standard, especially since your daughter ate half the offending sandwich. If they have an e-mail address, you might consider e-mailing your experience, which is still inexcusable. But it sounds to me like they were appropriately apologetic and offered reasonable compensation.

        1. I'm not a big complainer, but I would have asked them to take the burnt grilled cheese off the bill. $15 to eat half a grilled cheese is not fair to you.

          39 Replies
          1. re: schrutefarms

            If you eat half a sandwich don't expect the sandwich to be taken off the bill. If food is unsatisfactory then you send it back after a bite or two. If you see that the food is burnt you don't have to taste it first.

            1. re: KTinNYC

              So their choices are..
              1- Eat half the sandwich and don't complain
              2-Send it back and wait half an hour for a non-burnt one
              3-Get it taken off the bill and forgo your dinner

              No matter how you look at it, it was the restaurants fault that the meal was much less than satisfactory. Campanile should have taken it off the bill.

              1. re: schrutefarms

                No one forces you to stay at a restaurant. If you are not satisfied with the pace of service you leave. If food is not satisfactory you send it back. It's as simple as that.

                Campanile already made good by comping a dessert and apologizing.

                1. re: KTinNYC

                  Without happy guests there would be no restaurant. It is Campaniles responsibility to make sure no guest has to leave in the middle of their dinner service. Yes, they apologized and sent over dessert, but there is now a thread about that night on Chowhound that people are reading, which may have turned a few people off from going. I personally have always enjoyed good service and great food at Campanile, but no matter how great things can be at any restaurant, no one can afford any bad reviews in this economy.

                  1. re: schrutefarms

                    "no one can afford any bad reviews in this economy"

                    They probably can't afford to give away food either.

                    1. re: KTinNYC

                      Loss of food cost is remarkably low compared to loss of profit.

                      1. re: schrutefarms

                        I'm not sure what you are talking about. Food cost is a factor in profit.

                        1. re: KTinNYC

                          It is generally much less expensive to restaurants to give some food away than to lose a customer (or two or three) that ends up with then not selling anything to those former patrons and the loss in tip income to the wait staff is also a huge hit. So keeping your diners happy (if you don't know them to be all time PITA's that you WANT to get rid of) is a much bigger gain to your restaurant in the long run when measured against taking the price of one sandwich off the final bill.

                          1. re: Servorg

                            For the most part I agree with you but it seems that Campanile has the luxury of having an elastic customer base so even if they lose one, two, or three of these customers they can be replaced.

                            Anyway, IMO, they did nothing so egregious as to lose any customers.

                            1. re: KTinNYC

                              In this case you are undboutedly right about them not losing customers. But even if your regulars end up going less often because they went away grumbling a bit the restaurant would lose enough in the end that it makes very good business sense to comp that sandwich without being asked. Then your customer is telling all of their friends what a great place Campanile is and recommending it to anyone who happens to ask them for a good place to eat.

                              And Campanile can use all the business they can get, just like all of the restaurants in Los Angeles right now.

                      2. re: KTinNYC

                        Maybe they shouldn't burn food then.

                        1. re: schrutefarms

                          please re-read the OP. It was very dark, the mommy thought it tasted burnt. They did not serve burnt food, nor was it such that the OP made mention of it except here.

                          1. re: jfood

                            ?

                            1. re: schrutefarms

                              The OP stated it was dark and tasted burnt. You began this sub-thread with "take the burnt grilled cheese off the bill" and then you stated that " they shouldn't burn food then". The OP's family ate half of it, did not mention anything at the time and then comes here to trash the place in the first review OP has ever posted.

                              Does jfood need to connect any more dots?

                              1. re: jfood

                                "I love Campanile and the food was fabulous. I will still go back, just a bad night on the service front. But..I'm curious what you would have done?"

                                With further vicious trashing like that Campanile will soon be beating off the crowds with sticks... ;-D>

                                1. re: Servorg

                                  Any restaurant that can make a separate night out of Grilled Cheese and have people go giddy about getting in is already a place jfood will not go to.

                                  1. re: jfood

                                    My response was simply to point out that you seriously mischaracterized the OP's post as one that was trashing the restaurant. Your reply is an excellent example of a non sequitur though.

                                    1. re: Servorg

                                      Jfood sees your non sequitor and raises you an irrelevant. :-))

                                      Jfood does not trash any restaurant he has not been to and, in fact, he does not trash restaurants he has been to. Jfood loves restaurants that play with the Emperors New Clothes Syndrome. Grilled Cheese Night at $15. Jfood loves that. And the opening of the OP is "I have always wanted to go to grilled cheese night at Campanile, and last night was the night. Finally! I was so excited." Can't make this up.

                                      Jfood was responding to Schrutefarms, who took the OP's comments to an extreme. The OP seemed to very much enjoy the meal, other than the oops on the wine and the darkened sandwich. Schrutefarms took this all the wayto burnt and others have been asking for all kinds of freebies for a dark grilled cheese. Heck jfood's FIL liked dark grilled cheese.

                                      Hope that turns the no sequitor into some sense.

                                      1. re: jfood

                                        So when you wrote "The OP's family ate half of it, did not mention anything at the time and then comes here to trash the place in the first review OP has ever posted." you're critiquing what Schrutefarms said? Do I have that right? You weren't criticizing the OP there for trashing Campanile?

                                        It seemed pretty clear to me when I read what you wrote that you were taking the OP (madop) to task for "trashing" the restaurant. And I thought the OP (one post or 100 on Chowhound) gave a very cogent, detailed and balanced account of their evening without hyperbole or over the top anger or angst, (and just wondered how others saw the incident) without trashing Campanile in any way, shape or form.

                                        1. re: Servorg

                                          insert head hanging low and mea culpa.

                                          interesting in that jfood went back to see if he wrote or deleted that and did not find it. and you are correct in that the OP was VERY cogent and balanced review. jfood got caught up with scrutes comments. thanks for calling jfood to task for this mistake.

                                          1. re: jfood

                                            Thanks for coming back after rereading to explain what happened from your side. We often have what we were thinking at the time we posted, and what we actually end up writing. Somehow it's easy to get the two confused every now and again. I would just hate to chase off madop, who seemed like an intelligent and interesting poster, before they really had a chance to decide if they wanted to stay around Chowhound and add to the LA board. We can always use well written new posters with new ideas and new recommendations.

                                            1. re: Servorg

                                              jfood hears you. we have a thin level of troops out here in CT as well. enjoy

                                              1. re: jfood

                                                Schrutefarms would like to point out that Schrutefarms was responding to the OP's last line in the original post that asks Chowhounds what they would do. Schrutefarms would also like to mention that taking the grilled cheese off the bill is what Schrutefarms would ask the restaurant to do. It may not be what other would do, and that's A-OK with Schrutefarms.

                                                1. re: schrutefarms

                                                  And also, Schrutefarms would like to say that if a sandwich is "very dark", and tastes "burnt", it's probably BURNT!!

                                                  1. re: schrutefarms

                                                    No need to add the all caps S. Different people have different standards. The person who ordered the sandwich in question did not mind, the daughter ate it. And the OP stated "It wasn't terible, but it was enought that it was very dark and had that burnt taste to me" Neither you nor jfood were there so we can only go with what the OP stated. But half in the belly means 100% on the bill for jfood.

                                                    Ciao

                                                  2. re: schrutefarms

                                                    Maybe you feel it is A-OK to eat half a dish and then ask the restaurant to take it off the bill, but jfood agree. Once you have more than a bite or two you know if the dish is bad. Eating half and then asking for the dish to be removed is bad form. The OP did the proper thing.

                                                    1. re: jfood

                                                      I'm glad you agree jfood.

                                                      1. re: schrutefarms

                                                        Jfood seems to be in both disagreement and agreement with himself. If both halves should come into contact in this Universe there will be a paradox explosion of major proportion... ;-D>

                                                        1. re: Servorg

                                                          "Jfood seems to be in both disagreement and agreement with himself" where other than his stating that the OP was trashing the place.

                                                          You eat half a meal you do not have a right to send it back or ask for it to be removed from the bill for soemthing that would have been notice on sight or bite 1.

                                                          Does jfood need to connect the dots for you as well?

                                                          1. re: jfood

                                                            Both of us were kidding you, Jfood - (I'm pretty sure that Schrutefarms was kidding too) - just a bit based on your above post (seemingly) contradictory wording (and I'll bracket the apparent/inadvertent contradictory words/thoughts below just so you can see them more easily):

                                                            "Maybe you feel it is A-OK to eat half a dish and then ask the restaurant to take it off the bill, but jfood <<agree.>> Once you have more than a bite or two you know if the dish is bad. Eating half and then asking for the dish to be removed is bad form. The OP did the <<proper>> thing."

                                                            1. re: Servorg

                                                              Thanks for the catch again. Maybe jfood should run his emails through the Servorg filter more often. :-))

                                                              Obviously the <<agree>> should have been "disagrees"

                                                              But the OP did the proper thing with the grilled cheese. her daughter ate half and they paid for it so the second <<proper>> is not another typo.

                                                              Can't wait for mrs jfood to get home tonight.

                                                              Ciao buddy.

                                                              1. re: jfood

                                                                I watched the special tribute to Don Hewitt on 60 Minutes last Sunday and I began channeling my "inner editor" from that point forward. Enjoy your together time.

                                                              2. re: Servorg

                                                                Yes, Schrutefarms was taking the piss.

                                                          2. re: schrutefarms

                                                            Quite the contrary, jfood does not agree.

                                                            -You seem to think that eating half a meal and then asking for it to be removed from the bill is OK...Jfood does not
                                                            - You read the sandwich was burnt, jfood reads that it was very dark

                                                            Other than jfood's mistake of criticizingthe OP for trashing the place and he was man enough to admit his mistake, he has been very consistent with his views of the situation, as you have.

                                                            1. re: jfood

                                                              Agree to disagree, then?

                            2. re: schrutefarms

                              "no one can afford any bad reviews in this economy"

                              I used to think the same thing until I realized, after several incidents of inferior service at several highend restaurants, there are places who seem to be disinterested about how the customer feels.
                              I would have thought, with this economy, that places would step up their attempt to provide superior service in order to make sure the customer came back at the end of this downturn.
                              It's surprising how many don't.

                          2. re: schrutefarms

                            I don't follow you schrute. The OP not only didn't complain about the burnt sandwich, the daughter ate half. Were they supposed to read her mind? If something is so unsatisfactory that you want it taken off the bill, you have to send it back or at least complain.

                            1. re: a_and_w

                              Agreed. That's why I was saying what I would do if it were me.

                          3. re: KTinNYC

                            Totally Agree! Send it back or pay for it. My only comment to the experience would be that I think service more pertains to the front of house operation. waiting for food, is like having bad food at a restaurant, not your servers fault, it's the kitchen. The drink order was a big "oops" as was not knowing their own menu (fries etc). Sounds like a really off day.

                        2. I have learned to let things like this go.
                          If I love a place, and conclude it's not their usual service, then I'll let it go once....
                          If I give them the benefit of the doubt when I come back and the same thing is happening then I, most likely, won't return.
                          You had an unacceptable experience and it should never happen again.

                          1. Try Wendy's

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: beevod

                              What's your point? To eat the $15 burnt grilled cheese and just shut up and be grateful that they deigned to serve you at all?

                            2. Jfood has never been to C nor ever heard of it but when he looked on line it does have, believe it or not, a grilled cheese night. Us eastcoaster love you guys.

                              It also appears that the doors open at 6 and it is unclear whether it is the scene from a GA concert, or just a slow crawl in. It looks like many people show up, they are seated and the festivities begin.

                              So when OP was seated so were many others. The idea that it took 10-15 minutes at opening time is perfectly reasonable. Now the server forgot the wine, not a major faux pas and she apologized and brought the extra glass. The salads were wonderful. Two of the sandwiches were perfect and fries were ordered and they arrived in a basket.

                              Now the daughter's sandwich. What was it?

                              - classic sandwich was burnt
                              - It wasn't terible
                              - it was very dark and had that burnt taste to me
                              - and more importantly "May daughter was eating the other half though, so I just let it go"

                              So no mention of the color of the sandwich and the server probably removed the three plates thinking nothing of it so the restaurant thought the only faux pas was the timing. Apologies and a comped dessert.

                              And now the OP wants a discount on the bill? Totally without merit. Other than the delay in the beer and the oops on the wine, everything was great, plus three desserts to-go.

                              It is amazing the level of perfection people desire from a restaurant. All the food is eaten, the OP gives unbelievably rave reviews and people think they deserve something. Inseret jfood shaking his head.

                              1. Ideally, the sandwich should have never left the kitchen.

                                But, it did-

                                A good server will usually question when a significant portion of the dish is left by the customer. However, given that it was a child, they may not have picked up on this and assumed the child was full.

                                Servers can't read minds- I always tell people- if there is something wrong with your food, say something immediately. No need to be rude- a simple- are the sandwiches normally that dark? will usually clue most servers in that you are unhappy with how it is cooked. The staff will more than likely fix the problem as quickly as possible. I would expect another grilled cheese out in less than 10 mins. A server or manager would have the kitchen remake it "on the fly."

                                Eating it implies that it is to your liking.

                                1. I agree with all the above posters that the restaurant did as much as can be expected. They apologized and offered free dessert, which you accepted. Seems like that should be the end of it.