Don Coqui's over the top reservation policy
I know restaurants want to prevent customers who don't stick to their reservations, but Don Coqui in New Rochelle has taken this to a whole new level.
We had several people coming to dinner on a Sunday night. After calling up to make the reservation in advance, they asked for a credit card, then texted us to confirm (?) and then sent an e-mail with precise instructions on how far in advance to show up, etc.
Then they called us the day before our dinner to confirm (normal) and said they were going to call us back the next day before 3 pm -- and if a "real person" did not answer the phone, our reservations were being tossed.
Interestingly enough, they never called. But we called them and sent an e-mail back to reconfirm our confirmation from the day before, lest our reservations get deleted.
With such over the top measures in place, you think Don Coqui is having bad trouble with groups of people keeping reservations?
The food is good and quite tasty. Some of their portions are so big that there is no way you can eat it at one sitting (like their paella). You can easily split the paella between two people, but seeing how the owners impose their insane rules, they'll probably hit you with their $10 sharing charge. I have been there about four times since it opened a few years ago, but usually with just me and my wife.
However, it seems they go out of their way to strap handcuffs on you and take away the enjoyment of the food. There is like an undertone of "we don't trust you" in their protocol.
First of all, considering the above hoops they made us go through with reservations, the restaurant was not even half full on the Sunday night. A few people from the party did not come at the mandatory 10 - 15 minutes before the dining time of 6 pm on a Sunday night -- and they still sat us! Whew!
They make it mandatory to check all coats, as they explain it's to let the waiters move between the tables. There is no fee to check coats but you know there's a tip bucket there.
Then they slap a mandatory 20% tip on all checks for parties of FOUR or more, which seems pretty absurd. The common rule is maybe six or eight or more, but FOUR?
And of course, Don Conqui itself is located in a place where you pretty much have to get your car valeted, so yep, that is essentially mandatory too.
Dining at Don Coqui is like going to eat in a totalitarian state where the whole enjoyment of eating there is pretty much choked by the ridiculous rules they force their customers to obey.
Oh yeah, if you plan on hearing the people sitting at the table with you, be prepared to yell. No it's not the crowds... they like turning their music up on the high side, even on Sunday evenings. I like Puerto Rican music as much as the next guy, but not blasting over my Sunday night dinner.
I don't see returning to Don Coqui for the foreseeable future.
Isn't mandatory tip illegal? I thought I read somewhere that even though they impose a 20% fee for parties over 6, for example, you can still contest the charge... not sure but I think I've read that on CH or Yelp, not sure.
I don't think the food at this place is worth all the nonsense.
Haven't been to Don Coqui - heard bad things from others - but if you're looking for Puerto Rican food there's another option. Ocho Siete Ocho is in New Rochelle too. It's in the spot where Mama Francesca's used to be. I heard the owner or chef or GM came from Don Coqui. I don't know if that's correct or if it is if there is any relationship - monetary or otherwise - between the two. However, we encountered a a very lovely accommodating staff from the hostess to the waitstaff and bussers and the managers. All seemed sincerely gracious and happy to have you there.
Food was very good and came in generous portions - we took home quite a bit. Prices were fair and atmosphere pleasant. We shall return.