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Jun 8, 2010 05:30 PM

Stanford Grill ?

Has anyone tried the Stanford Grill in Columbia? We got a card in the mail from them today, wondering if it's worth a try?

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  1. I've heard of it and all I can say is don't waste your time. Check out what happened to us when we tried it the other night.

    A group of friends and I get together once a month for happy hour. We are all from Columbia, and we decided several years ago that we needed to do a better job of staying in touch, so we started our monthly happy hour. Being from the area, we try to frequent locally based restaurants because we are all big supporters of Columbia businesses. Last night we went to the Stanford Grill and I assure you it will be the last time any of us patronize this establishment. Here's what happened:

    We decided to sit on the patio and enjoy a few cocktails and some light least that was our plan. Get this...they would not serve us drinks or food because we were sitting on a few of the (many) couches that had been placed out there. Their reasoning? "We are new and not set up for that." (You know who you are Mr. Manager in the chartreuse shirt and non-matching tie.) So we literally had 6 people attempting to spend money in a new restaurant, but none of the 3 waiters working the patio would serve or even acknowledge us because we were sitting on couches instead of chairs. If we wanted drinks or food, we had to walk through the restaurant and order from the bar.

    We are all professionals in our late 30s/early 40's, (in other words, exactly the customers that SG would want to attract), and we can be flexible. So after a few discussions with managers and wait staff, we decided to ask to be seated. One of the guys in our group asked a passing waitress if we could be seated at a table on the patio so we could eat. Without skipping a beat, she directed us to the hostess. She made no attempt to get the hostess for us, nor did she offer to check for us. Mind you, we had been there for over an hour at this point; we were clearly spending money and settling in for dinner.

    My friend, though frustrated with the waitress's failure to be helpful, then went to see the hostess. He was so shocked by what he was told that he asked the hostess to come out to the patio and explain it to the rest of us. The hostess proceeded to tell us that we could sit on the patio, but because we were a group of 6, we would have to sit at two separate tables because "we can't push two tables together." (Each table only had four seats.) It should be noted that, at the time, less than a third of the tables on the patio were occupied. If the tables were bolted to the ground, made of some super heavy material, carved in place out of stone, or if the restaurant had been packed, we would understand. However, they were standard metal outdoor tables, and the only reason they couldn't be pushed together was the inability of the management to be accommodating, let alone reasonable (seriously, has anyone ever heard of a restaurant that would push two tables together?). At this point, we gave up and went to nearby Nottingham's. There, we were treated like valued customers (our waitress Jenna was AWESOME) and we had a great time.

    I know Stanford Grill has received great reviews from a few other people, (maybe the food is ok, but we wouldn't know), but for a business to deny the reasonable requests of its customers and actively create a "black hole of service" within their establishment is asinine. It is very probable that the business that takes this approach will not survive. Especially when there are many other upscale restaurants in the area (in much better locations) that will gladly provide the basics of good customer service. Imagine if you were a new business starting out in a new location and you decided to deny yourself the chance to turn a profit. Ridiculous, isn't it?

    These guys better get their act together or they will be gone before year's end.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Columbiablacklist

      Thanks!!! I am not interested in giving my patronage (and $$) to a place that isn't interested in having it. On the other side, a group from my office went to Union Jacks in Columbia past week. While the food is so-so (although I hear the fish and chips are great), the service was great. They were very accommodating and had no trouble pushing a few tall tables together to give us a place to sit as a group. Very efficient wait staff and no sense that they were anxious to get us out the door.

      Union Jack's
      4915 Saint Elmo Ave, Bethesda, MD 20814

    2. There are several comments about Stanford on the local Howard County food blog, HowChow.

      My personal experience was that it was well decorated with a nice canopied outdoor area and a good view of the verge down to Rt 175. The food was decent, the menu small, and the service pretty good. The service is new, so there are some glitches, but nothing terrible.

      We ordered the rib eye and it tasted good, but that was because the seasonings they put on it were really good. In retrospect, the seasonings overwhelmed the meat, so you got a good mouth-feel but didn't really taste beef. At the time I didn't miss it because I like the seasoning. We tried the mac-n-cheese as well and it was well made but they cooked it so that it had a smoky taste which, to me, was weird in mac-n-cheese. The cornbread was good, the French Dip was too salty.

      All in all, pretty much what you expect from a mid-range chain restaurant.

      2 Replies
      1. re: dzoey

        I've stopped by as well. I am agreeing with some of the others. The service is an absolute NIGHTMARE. Dreadful. And I can't even imagine nor do I want to imagine what is going on in the kitchen.

        I wonder why they did not consider conducting training, and doing server tests etc BEFORE opening the doors to the public?? I seriously want to know this. It's obvious these servers/cooks LACK experience. (Do the cooks taste the food they make and plan to send out? Oversalting something is a serious mistake)

        I mean the quality of the food might be OK...but when you are treated like dogpoo and the cooks are clueless the food is pretty much a second thought. And no one is going to rush back with a bad taste in their mouth, even if and I say this with baited breath, IF they get it together there...

        1. re: HungryinBmore

          Is this a Columbia thing? Because we've gotten the same sort of freeze-out treatment at some Columbia restaurants, the kind that put on airs while serving things like burgers and pizza. It's like they take one look at you and decide you're not their type, and want you to leave ASAP.

          I didn't know Nottingham's was still there; we used to go there many years ago pre-kids. We'll have to check them out again, as well as Union Jack's, and other places that make us feel like guests instead of viruses.

          Union Jack's
          4915 Saint Elmo Ave, Bethesda, MD 20814