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Ageism is Calgary restaurants

Over the last several years, I've had my share of "fine dining" and it really irritates me when I get treated like a kid (mind you, this year I had turned 22 which I think is a rather decent age). I've always appreciated good food and you just can't get a mouthwatering, blue charred steak at Chili's or whatever other restaurant chain you want to insert here. Agegism doesn't apply to all waiters but I've had times where they look down on me for being younger than most of the other people at the establishment. Granted, I wont know what vintage that certain bottle of Merlot was particularly good in, but I do appreciate good wine with my meats. But some waiters just give you that look, that "what are you doing here, I'm too good for you, or the I can't believe you ordered Cabernet Sauvignon with pasta (I'm still ok in this department) look. Is this is common theme for most young people when you visit places like Rush, Bears Den, etc... Its not like I walk into a nice restaurant with jeans and a t-shirt, listening to my ipod or whatever. I adhere to dress codes, dress appropriately, well groomed, am generally laid back and not shouting or being obnoxious. Whats wrong here, Is it just me or is that just how things are?

Bears Den
254028 Bearspaw Rd NW, Calgary, AB T3L 2P7, CA

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  1. I think it is more just fine dining snobbishness than actual ageism. Even us middle aged guys feel like we're treated that way sometimes.

    Calgary has gotten a lot more relaxed in terms of restaurant attitudes, but there are certainly some old school hold outs who seem to think that the customer should feel intimidated to be dining there. I, personally, try to avoid those places....

    1 Reply
    1. re: tex_in_yyc

      Well said Tex - I wholeheartedly agree. With the competition and volume of restaurants out there...if I ever am made to feel "less than or intimidated to be there"...I move on and enjoy other fine dining establishments. The food industry is a service industry and there are some who do forget at times.

    2. Just wait until you are older, have money to eat out, but choose to dress like a schlep and get treated like one, even though the so called fine dining restaurant you just ate at is sub standard at best. One of my son's who will be 18 this week is a very smart and savvy eater as he is well traveled and he too get written off by the so called high end places.

      1. This is how things are. In every city.

        Be happy that at 22 you can AFFORD Rush- I sure as hell couldn't, not as a poor PhD student with barely two nickels to rub together.

        3 Replies
        1. re: John Manzo

          Might be the funniest thing I have read today "poor PhD student". As for ageism, I think this is every place that wants their customers to buy $100+ bottles of wine.

          1. re: 300rwhp

            Why is that funny? You're usually carrying a load of undergrad debt, and you are being paid a pittance and working so hard it's not easy to take on another job. Grad students tend to be quite poor.

            1. re: Pipenta

              Agreed. I definitely don't find it funny as I'm currently a poor PhD student. It's worse than being a poor college student!

        2. Put me into the dress like a schlep and older category.

          There's one word for servers who treat people based on appearance...untipped.

          2 Replies
          1. re: sharonanne

            It has only happened on rare occasions where I didnt leave any tip and that was only because of a misunderstanding between the people in my party and myself. But I hate the idea of leaving no tip. Tip is supposed to go to all of the staff, and not just the waiter, so just because the waiter was being a snob doesnt mean that the rest of the establishment should have to pay.

            I wish I could go out to Rush every weekend but being a student away from home REALLY limits that.

            1. re: Roarasaur

              I'm with you. I was just saying that from the server's point of view it would seem to be in their best interest to treat everyone well. It's shortsighted of them to go for the immediate pleasure (?) of putting someone down rather than the long term reward of making someone happy.

          2. Some restaurants are obnoxious like that. I guess my only advice is, act like you're supposed to be there.

            Two places I dined at when I was 22 that are still around are Divino and River Cafe. The service was always excellent regardless of my age.

            1. Wow, sorry to hear that. I've certainly been in similar situations when I was younger, living in Edmonton. We walked into the Red Ox Inn about 5:15, and no one was on the floor. We waited patiently and then the phone rang. A waiter came out, looked at us, sneered and answered the phone first. I was livid. It's pretty humiliating.

              It's hard being the better person but that's really what you have to do. A classy restaurant, one with real class, not the "We have high prices we must be awesome!" will never do this. Like one commentator said, River Cafe, always treats customers with respect regardless of age.

              Red Ox Inn
              9420 91 Street, Edmonton, AB T6C 3P4, CA

              2 Replies
              1. re: piano boy

                I don't think that was necessarily ageism. While I've never been sneered at while at the Red Ox Inn, I have been there for early dining more than once and have stood there forever calling out "hello" in a forlorn voice because all the servers were in the back and there's no bell or buzzer telling them that the door has opened.

                Red Ox Inn
                9420 91 Street, Edmonton, AB T6C 3P4, CA

                1. re: piano boy

                  Wow, I have never seen the Red Ox staff treat anyone anything other than wonderfully! Sure, I'm closer to 50 than to 40, but I doubt that makes any difference in how they've treated me and I've been there with many people much younger and also seen a lot of people in there who are far youger than I am.

                2. I'm in the older and dress like a schlep category. I used to get the "Can you really afford to eat here?" treatment, but not as much since the economy went down and the service has gotten much better.

                  Here's my advice to get good service locally, regardless of age: Start a food blog where you review the restaurants you eat at. And plaster your blog with pics of yourself and friends dining, accompanied by the food pictures. I'm sure you'll eventually be treated very nicely at restaurants!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Libertycafe

                    Hardware Grill in Edmonton was the worst for my SO & I. We dressed up, we are in our low 30s, obviously not business enough! When we asked for a recommendation for a wine with our meals, we were automatically sent to the 50 wines under 50$, no explanation of any of them. Perhaps this was just our waiters lack of knowledge of the wine list, but it felt like a slight to us, we would have spent more on wine, but not after the 'I don't believe that you can afford or appreciate a wine over $50' look we got from him. I have also had this experience at some of the forkfest places, when it seemed that the waiters felt we were being cheap for taking advantage of their deals. One place we were NEVER treated 'young' was at The Blue Pear, even though we were consistently the youngest people there.

                  2. There is the flip side to this: older women going into restaurants and getting less-than-attentive treatment because there are no men in their group. I suspect the feeling is that they will tip less well than men. And women are paid less, so they aren't likely to be as affluent. Still, if a customer comes in the door, it makes no sense to treat them shabbily, young or old. And sometimes, the folks with the least money are the best tippers.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Pipenta

                      Agree that there's no excuse to ever treat someone poorly. That said, after maaaaaaaaany years in the restaurant industry, women ARE worse tippers, especially the older ones.

                      1. re: invinotheresverde

                        I have heard that for many years. But after spending the past, oh, decade speaking to groups, mostly seniors, about restaurants in our area, tipping is always a hot topic. About half the time, we get gasps when we say that, yes, 15% is the accepted tip these days, and if we don't get gasps, there are inevitably frowns and head-shakes. I look carefully to see about whether it's men or women reacting negatively, and I have to say, it's about even, perhaps a slight edge to men. So my conclusion is that there may be some age-related factor, more than gender.

                        Of course, this is the conservative Midwest, and YMMV.

                    2. This can go both ways. Because of my advanced age, there seems to be an assumption that I am going for the "early bird special," and will tip, as though it was still 1950.

                      In my case, I love fine wines, and great food, and have no compunction on paying for both, plus I tip very well. Still, I do "feel" some of the typifying, due to my age. I just smile, order, pay and tip well.


                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                        Always the gentleman, of course, Hunt; knew you would. I'm the same way on the female stereotype. Now the woman eating alone cold shoulder I don't take so gracefully, though.