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Nov 26, 2009 10:25 PM

DePalo & Sons, Pismo Beach - sandwiches with a side of hostility.

This is a gourmet market located in a tourist area that hates tourists. I ordered a sandwich off their menu board - the listed ingredients included mayonaise, so I asked the young woman taking my order to "hold the mayo, please." "We NEVER put mayo on that sandwich" she hissed. I pointed out the menu board, and again she said, in an even louder and more hostile tone "WE NEVER PUT MAYO ON THAT SANDWICH!" That was fine, because that's exactly the way I wanted it, but her reaction seemed a little odd. My husband and I paid for our sandwiches and drove a few miles to a picnic area, opened the sandwich box, and surprise - the sandwich was slathered with mayo. We took the sandwich back to the store, showed her the mayo-drenched bread, and asked her why she told us that they never put mayonnaise on the sandwich. "I never said that" she said. She turned to her co-workers behind the deli counter and stage-whispered "Stupid tourists." She was laughing, and our sense was that this was an ongoing prank to entertain the deli staff. Needless to say, we'll never go back. There are lots of other wonderful places to eat in the area without the bad attitude and the bad food.

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  1. Good for you and great that you went back to complain, and most importantly reported this travesty here. I hope this gets back to them. Americans really do need to stand up more for their dining rights because it is a mutual contract between the restaurant and the customer. Helps to weed out the real foodie places from the fake ones, who just want money but nothing in return. Too many people just walk away or say everything is "just fine" when it clearly was not. I find it fun to engage in food talk and when all one gets is a blank stare or a curt dismissal, then that place quickly gets scratched off my list. Everyone can have a bad day and/or a bad staffer, but a real restaurant is in the hospitality business and that means their part of the contract is to make things enjoyable for the customer. And even a nice apology can go a long way when the food and service cannot.

    2 Replies
    1. re: glbtrtr

      Thank you! I appreciate your comments. I was hesitant to go back to De Palo, knowing that I'd be subject to more abuse, but felt that it was better than just throwing the food away.

      1. re: tubbytoast

        I hope they returned your money as well. Personally I would have asked for the owner or manager so they were sure to know what this inept person is doing to their business

    2. Adding a link:

      De Palo & Sons Provisions Spirits & Fine Wines
      2665 Shell Beach Rd, Pismo Beach, CA 93449

      1. Thats a bummer. I always have enjoyed chatting about wine and getting recommendations from the people who work the evening shift. Nothing but pleasant experiences in the past.

        5 Replies
        1. re: chickendud

          Deli staff has never been very overtly friendly, dating from the time they went chi-chi and changed the name from Spyglass Liquors to De Palo and Sons. The deli has a fairly high turnover, but it is a college area.

          I find the food to be fairly good, but expensive. Most of their commercially packaged foodstuffs are imported so pricey, kitchen items too. You can find very unusual items there--good things to tuck into a gift basket for that "special" person..

          Liquor store area staff and front counter people are much more cooperative. The owners usually have great wine recs and will discuss obscure wine findings with relish.

          tubbytoast--I hope you find time to contact the owner and include the date and time of your visit so some needed customer-service coaching can be administered to the staff members.

          1. re: toodie jane

            We've never ordered anything from the deli except for a couple of cookies or desserts, other than that agree completely with your assessment, TJ. On several occassions have come up with some hard to find bottles of wine, or failing that been directed to a great alternative by someone on the floor.

            1. re: toodie jane

              Toodie, appreciate your comments. The manager (don't know if it was the owner) was briefly involved -we asked for our money back and the deli supervisor spoke to him before giving us the refund. Both the deli supervisor and the manager know what happened, but I feel pretty certain that nothing will be done.

              1. re: tubbytoast

                bottom line I suppose: did anyone apologize? I'm sorry your day here was marred by such behavior. There's just no point in working in customer service if you are so unhappy that you feel the need to spread it around.

                Try a trip to Doc Bernstein's Ice Cream in the Arroyo Grande village. He likes people, and so do his young employees. And the ice cream, ahhhhhhh.

                1. re: toodie jane

                  No apology or explanation offered. I felt very embarrassed.

          2. My 3 1/2 years of experience, first as a tourist, then as a weekend "local," have been quite different. My spouse and I have found the food quite good, not over-priced, and the employees at the food counter helpful. The counter gets crowded on weekend, both at lunch and dinner, and everyone has to be patient. There is no excuse for the deliberately poor service noted here, however. It just has not been my experience.

            Regarding the "chi chi" reference, the entire region has changed a bit with the wine industry's growth in this area. A liquor store which over time attempts to transform itself into a Napa-style market is not something to be criticized.

            2 Replies
            1. re: BigGreener

              Just to clarify, it was not busy at the deli counter during our visit - just one person ahead of us, and at least four deli counter staffers were standing idle behind the counter, probably waiting for the lunch hour to heat up.
              I don't mind the "chi chi" part at all. In fact, we purchased several items besides the sandwiches that day, and it's the kind of market we would have looked forward to shopping at again if had we been treated like customers instead of joke material.

              1. re: BigGreener

                The steamed shrimp from the deli is now, I think, over $20.00 #. That's a tad overpriced in my book. Their sandwiches remain about the same price as other delis in the area.

                Yes, it's a visually lovely store with unusual items; and it now caters to well-heeled tourists and part-time residents. And no, there is nothing wrong with developing your merchandise mix to appeal to such a customer base. I will occasionally splurge on something if it is a good value (the imported choc-hazelnut spread).

                I stand by my comments as an occasional customer for the past several decades. The vibes changed when it became De Palo & Sons. While I've never encountered a regrettable experience like tubbytoast, there is an aloof attitude and perceptible impatience from the deli staff that keep me from spending much time or money there. Life's too short.

              2. That's really scary. One of my best friends is severely allergic to eggs. Had she taken a bite of the allegedly "no mayo" sandwich without checking, it would have resulted in a trip to the emergency room for an epinephrine shot. (If she didn't happen to be packing her epipen). It's hard enough to get truthful answers out of people about whether a particular dish contains eggs, but for someone to outright lie out of it, because they think it's funny, is downright malicious and very dangerous. They've obviously never been with someone who's going into anaphylactic shock due to an allergy reaction.

                Thanks for helping me steer clear of this place. I'll never go there and advise my many friends who pass through Pismo frequently, to do the same.

                9 Replies
                1. re: tanzbodeli

                  With Mo's BBQ and his Philthy Phil's ribs calling my name every time I get near Pismo, I won't have to worry about giving this place any business when I am up this way either.

                  1. re: glbtrtr

                    Glbtrtr, thanks for the great recs! Toodie Jane, you too! And thanks to all for your comments. I want to add that all of our other eating and shopping experiences in Pismo were very pleasant; people were consistently kind and helpful.

                    1. re: glbtrtr


                      There is a newish (year or two) BBQ spot in Arroyo Grande on Grand Ave in the 1400 block (Spencer's Mkt and Applebee's) Gibson Bros BBQ. Pretty basic joint, but I like the pork ribs. Their mashed potato side is verrry good.

                      I've not been to Mo's since it was downtown SLO many years ago. Maybe you could do a comparison and let us know which you like best?

                      ummmmm. ribs.

                      1. re: toodie jane

                        I totally agree. The bottom line is the food is good but definitively overpriced and the staff has always been snooty. They like to have private conversations while deigning to take your money. I like to go to the beach at the Cliffs on a nice day and they are the closest deli next to this beach, but I only go there if I forgot to go somewhere else.
                        Do yourself a favor, go somewhere else.

                        1. re: toodie jane

                          Toodie, We will look for Gibson's BBQ if we do a day trip from Santa Barbara ....... AND IF ..... (big if)........... Mo's is closed. ;-) Gotta happen.

                          Thanks for the rec. Love finding all these day tripper dining spots around this part of California. What was that new place in Nipomo besides Chef Ricks?

                            1. re: PolarBear

                              Right you are. Thanks for the correction.

                              I do believe someone, and I think it was Toodie, mentioned a new restaurant "somewhere" up there but now can't remember where, but one that seemed on par with Chef Rick's in Orcutt. (!) He deserves to have people know where to beat a path to his door.

                                1. re: PolarBear

                                  Sounds good to me. Thanks for the reminder. Have to include this in our north county sweep some day. Let's see. Somehow I have to fit in this, plus BBQ in Arroyo Grande, must have chile rellenos in Guadalupe, ribs at Mo's in Pismo, and still have room for some Chef Rick's Jack Daniels pecan pie ....... or was that Madonna Inn's banana cream pie.

                                  I had no idea until reading chowhound we had so many really good dining road trip destinations in this area in these obscure little communities. Who is going to be the first to write the Central Coast's Culinary Adventure Guide?