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City Winery sucks

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Blumie Oct 13, 2009 07:21 AM

Or am I overreacting? A group of six of us are attending a New Yorker Festival event on Friday night at City Winery, so although the reviews here have been mixed, we'd figured it'd be convenient to eat there before the event. So several weeks ago I made a reservation on OpenTable. I got a call from them this weekend, several weeks after I had booked the reservation and less than a week before the event is scheduled, telling me that they're not open for dinner that night and thus are canceling my reservation. Now, of course, all of the better alternatives are booked and we're scrambling for a last-minute reservations. When I griped, they said they would make it up to me by buying me a glass of wine on my next visit. I assured them that there would be no next visit.

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  1. iluvcookies RE: Blumie Oct 13, 2009 07:40 AM

    Just a thought... you made the res on Open Table for the same night as an event you were planning to attend. Not sure why you thought they'd be open for dinner same night as said event.

    Sounds to me like bad communication between Open Table and City Winery, like Open Table shouldn't have accepted the res in the first place and City Winery shouldn't have let them.

    Now if you called City Winery directly and they took the res, then I'd be really upset, cause they should know when their open, right?

    2 Replies
    1. re: iluvcookies
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      Blumie RE: iluvcookies Oct 13, 2009 07:50 AM

      I've never been to City Winery before, so I looked it up on line. It's an event venue and a restaurant. I had no reason to believe that they don't do both on the same evening. I also have to imagine that opentable is not responsible for monitoring a restaurant's special events; the onus must be on the restaurant to contact opentable, and City Winery failed to do so. (It's also possible, I imagine, that they intended to open for dinner and then changed their mind.) In any event, I wasn't happy with how they handled it.

      1. re: Blumie
        iluvcookies RE: Blumie Oct 13, 2009 08:07 AM

        It sounds like a sincere mixup, and the restaurant may not have been informed of your res until the day they called you. I wouldn't be surprised if Open Table had made a bunch of res for that night. And I don't blame you for being upset.

        In any case I hope you enjoy the New Yorker Festival... please post back and let us know how it was.

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      bronwen RE: Blumie Oct 13, 2009 07:48 AM

      I think it's more of an Open Table problem so I'd give City Winery another chance!

      8 Replies
      1. re: bronwen
        Bob Martinez RE: bronwen Oct 13, 2009 08:08 AM

        I've used OpenTable 50 or 60 times and I've never had a problem with them. My bet is that City Winery screwed up.

        1. re: Bob Martinez
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          Blumie RE: Bob Martinez Oct 13, 2009 08:15 AM

          I agree with Bob. This was a City Winery mix up, not an opentable mix up. I also agree with ilovcookies that it could have been a sincere mixup, or an oversight. That kinda thing happens. I guess what made me most upset was the way the restaurant handled it: with little more than a shrug. And from my perspective, with too many extraordinary places beckoning me to try them and the less-than-effusive praise this place has earned on this board, I see no reason to rush to give them a chance to make it up to me.

          1. re: Blumie
            iluvcookies RE: Blumie Oct 13, 2009 08:28 AM

            Blumie, you make an excellent point--sounds like the resto wasn't too sincere in their apology regardless of where the error was.
            I was actually thinking of seeing Nick Lowe there tomorrow night, but now I think I'll skip it and save my $35 for another time---and another place that might appreciate it more.

            1. re: Blumie
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              fourunder RE: Blumie Oct 13, 2009 08:44 AM

              I'm just wondering, since the restaurant was not serving dinner, they did call you to make you aware and inform you of the cancellation.....you griped, and they offered a resolution for glass of wine, I imagine for your entire party on a future date......so my question is....

              What do you think is an appropriate response and an resolution....other than to apologize and offer you a beverage, which they did. I am assuming they did apologize in their call.

              I would like to point out, you clearly state you made the reservation with convenience in mind....as opposed to a better alternative, by your description.

              1. re: fourunder
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                El Tigre RE: fourunder Oct 13, 2009 10:37 AM

                i couldn't agree more- it sounds like they acknowledged their mistake and offered a token of apology. i managed restaurants for many years and beyond offering what they offered you there really isn't much more that they can do. did you expect a more substantial "reimbursement"?

                1. re: El Tigre
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                  Blumie RE: El Tigre Oct 13, 2009 10:48 AM

                  It's a fair question. I think if they had contacted me promptly, I wouldn't have expected anything at all. It was angering to me, though, that it took them three weeks to realize the mistake and to call me, and to fail to acknowledge the bind that the last minute cancelation can put people in. At the time I booked this, I could have booked virtually any restaurant, including Gotham and Gramercy Tavern, but opted for the convenience. I think in light of all this, a more emphatic apology was in order. And although I wasn't looking for any sort of compensation, an offer of a glass of wine seemed kinda chintzy to me.

          2. re: bronwen
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            foodwhisperer RE: bronwen Oct 22, 2009 07:37 PM

            id give city winery another shot,,,i like the place,,, and they have good live music there as well and a great wine making facility in the basement.. Its a nice space, alot different from the Knitting Factory , same owner

            1. re: foodwhisperer
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              Blumie RE: foodwhisperer Oct 23, 2009 06:38 AM

              I was angry, but I'm over it now. I didn't like the way City Winery handled the sitation over the phone; the GM did a much better job in his email exchange with me. Now that I've actually been to the place -- for two New Yorker Festival events -- I would comment that it seems like a nice place for a live show. It's a little on the slick side -- I prefer more grunge -- but I'm not gonna avoid it if there's a show I'd like to see.

          3. pizzajunkie RE: Blumie Oct 13, 2009 10:09 AM

            I went to see Aimee Mann there this summer and I had a good experience, although I didn't order any food, just wine. But they were serving food at the concert. The people sitting across the table from us had terrible service, but I think they did as well as they could considering the crowd, etc. I would be willing to go back if there was a good show there, next time I visit NYC.

            1. c
              CAB226 RE: Blumie Oct 13, 2009 11:05 AM

              I went to City Winery a few weeks ago and had some food & wine before the concert we were seeing (Janis Ian). My friend and I had bar seats, so maybe that helped with the service, as it was fine -- nothing exceptional, but nothing to complain about either. The food was also good. Had scallops (very tasty, if a bit pricey -- $15 for 2 scallops), lamb chops, and cheese plate. Also had their rose and their zinfandel. Perfectly decent wines. Loved the space, by the way -- great place for a concert -- very intimate.

              As to your issue, though, its DOES seem that there was some sort of miscommunication between OT and CW. And it does seem that they shoudl have contacted you sooner if they were not going to be open for dinner that night. If it was an issue of their just deciding it, based on perhpas new issues that had come up as a result of the New Yorker event, they should have indicated such and, I would think, apologized profusely.

              I will say that the way they run things when there is a concert is that people can come in beforehand and sit at the bar (perhaps sit at tables, that I'm not sure of, though) but if the seat is sold for the concert, and the ticketholder comes in, you have to vacate the seat. could be a litte off-putting, but I suppsoe if you know the deal ahead of time....

              1 Reply
              1. re: CAB226
                iFat RE: CAB226 Oct 13, 2009 08:03 PM

                Since City Winery isn't just a restaurant, maybe cut them a little more slack than a place that is only a straight forward restaurant? It's curious that they're on opentable because it's gotta be hard to keep their opentable availability in tune with their concert schedule and when there's a concert, they don't let people in without a ticket... they prob wound up w/a last minute show that night, and that's why your dinner plans got nixed. The space is pretty amazing, unlike anything else in this city.

                www.immaculateinfatuation.com

              2. coleyas RE: Blumie Oct 15, 2009 02:30 PM

                I've also had frustrations there.

                I had my birthday dinner at City Winery in March. When all was said and done 10 of us had 10 bottles of wine (not $ wine, granted), a host of cheese, charcuterie, flatbread, and other small plates. All pretty good, but we like the wine and the communal table the best!

                They didn't have dessert then, so I'd picked up a cake from Magnolia Bakery for my b'day cake. They asked if we wanted it plated, and thinking silently to myself "of course, I do", I said yes.

                So! My husband gets the >$700 bill and they have charged him $8 a plate to cut the cake and put it on small dessert plates. Really? Really?????

                I couldn't believe it and flatly (in my seldom ever rude restaurant persona) told them we would not be paying for the plating. They tried to justify it several times and finally realizing that they were completely bezerk conceded and rightfully agreed to take it off the bill.

                Usually happy to oblige with reasonable plating fees, I hardly think such a casual place can get away with an $8 plating fee, particularly when a good portion of their plates (read: pretty much everything on their menu!!!) is $7 to $8. This means that the food THEY actually buy, prepare, and then plate, would be in the same price range if not less than having my birthday cake sliced and plated by them.

                Must say, if there is music playing, it's a great place to enjoy wine, cheese, and good tunes, but sans music, I'd skip it.

                3 Replies
                1. re: coleyas
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                  fourunder RE: coleyas Oct 15, 2009 02:46 PM

                  I'm not trying to pick a fight with you, nor disagree with you that the plating charge was excessive or not....but I will say I think it is wrong of you to assume you had a right to have the cake plated and not pay a plating charge...especially in New York where time and space is money. Yes they could have overlooked and charged you nothing or charged a more reasonable fee, but you, or your party, did not get permission first if I am reading this correctly and I think you and your group were presumptuous to think there would not be a charge....

                  This has been discussed before. Whether the restaurant has desserts or not....whether it is allowable or not...or this is only done in Chinese Restaurants...you should have asked before you brought the cake into the establishment....That's the point I'm trying to make.

                  1. re: fourunder
                    coleyas RE: fourunder Oct 22, 2009 03:54 PM

                    Not sure what you mean, particularly since my comment said, "Usually happy to oblige with reasonable plating fees". Thanks for your opinion, though.

                  2. re: coleyas
                    egit RE: coleyas Oct 15, 2009 03:18 PM

                    coleyas, I actually agree with you. They could have charged a "reasonable" plating fee, but $8/plate times ten plates is a lot, especially when they don't offer their own dessert. That would be akin to a restaurant charging you a $75 corkage on a $20 (from the store) bottle of wine. That would be viewed as outrageous by most people, especially if the restaurant is BYOB.

                    A restaurant should have the right to recoup some of the money they would have made had you purchased that part of the meal from them. But to charge a full dessert price for an item you brought yourself and they, in fact, don't offer is egregious. They might have charged $20 total to plate it and no one would have batted an eye.

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                    mrnyc RE: Blumie Oct 26, 2009 12:38 AM

                    it sucks that they screwed up and were so nonchalant about it, i hate that (happened to us with joes pub, i wont go back), but really less than a week is plenty of time to find another restaurant on a par or better than a casual place like CITY WINERY.

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