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Bangor Maine restaurant experience

We were in town this past Thursday & Friday to attend a funeral for a very dear friend. All of us were born and raised in Bangor, but the majority have all lived in Portland for over 25 years. We are very spoiled by our restaurants here and were a little leery of the offerings in Bangor. A few of us follow Alex & Joe from FOOD COMA TV and decided to try the places they really liked & visited in their Bangor episode. The wake ended at 7pm and we were hungry! We were excited to see downtown alive again! We had a couple of beers at Nocturnum and really enjoyed the beer selection, the friendly wait staff, the live blues music and the atmosphere. Then were headed to The Fiddlehead Restaurant for dinner....it was about 8pm and the restaurant hours listed they were open until 9pm. We walked in the door and were "greeted" by the hostess with not a hello, but with "there are 6 of you and you don't have a reservation?!" She then stated, "well, I don't know if I have room, but I will check" she then came back and said (verbatum) "I do have a table, but this is what I don't do...I don't do separate checks, I automatically add 18% grat for the server, I don't do blah, blah, blah. I will go get the table ready and you guys decided if you want to stay." All of this was delivered like and assault and we were left speechless! We all looked at each other and were so blown away by her negativity and rudeness and decided to take our food dollars to a place that really wanted to have our business. As we stood outside discussing where to go, she followed us out and said "One of my customers overheard you saying I was rude and I was not rude!" Well, you could have fooled us, lady. We did tell her we felt taken aback by her verbal assault and she said "that's just the way I am" The most distressing part of all of this, is that the hostess was the owner. A good restaurant is built not only on it's delicious food, but also on customer service. That is something the front of the house at this restaurant is seriously lacking. We did end up down the street at a little bar & grill called Ipanema. They greeted us with big smiles when we walked in and we had a delicious meal, very reasonably priced. The next morning, we visited Giacomo's for coffee and nosh. Sweet little place with very friendly staff. We wanted to return for lunch, but were unable to before we left. We will definitely return to Ipanema & Giacomo's, if our travels take us to Bangor again....and hopefully under happier circumstances.

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  1. Well, I didn't hear her delivery so I'll have to take your word for it that she was rude rather than just matter-of-fact. But, would the six of you shown up at 8pm without a reservation at any good restaurant in Portland and have expected to be seated without a bit of eye-rolling from the hostess?

    2 Replies
      1. re: irwin

        true, and when I worked front of the house "back in the day" my stomach would drop...but being considerate goes a long way.

    1. I have never known Laura (the owner) to be rude in any way, to anyone. It sounds to me that she simply made the situation clear and it wasn't what you wished to hear. You missed out on some great food

      1 Reply
      1. re: jbuttitta

        With the size of our group, we knew we were taking our chances and were prepared to look elsewhere. Most of us have worked in the food industry at some point or another. We chalked it up to her not having a good night. But again, courtesy and consideration go a long way. And the impression she left us with was lasting. We all grew up in Bangor when Main Street was thriving with Rines, Freese's, Sleepers, The Boston Store, Cortell & Segel's, Standard Shoe & Bangor Furniture. Then it all died when the Mall was built in the late 70's. The rehab done on the Bangor Furniture building was impressive. It was refreshing to see downtown alive again.

      2. I have to agree with mjc on this one. If I walk into a place and the hostess makes you feel like THEY are doing YOU a favor by seating you...forget it. I'll go somewhere else. It's bush league.

        And as for the "would the six of you shown up at 8pm without a reservation at any good restaurant in Portland and have expected to be seated without a bit of eye-rolling from the hostess?" question...absolutely. It's that a joke? Number 1, 8 o'clock isn't late and number 2 I don't need to be lectured on the rules of the house.

        Oh, and to have her follow you outside to continue her lesson? Ridiculous.

        5 Replies
        1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

          Ditto. A couple of years ago a group of us - it had grown to about 10 - were bar hopping around Portland and around 9PM someone suggests seeing if we could grab a bite at Fore Street. It turned out that a big table in the back had recently finished and there was room for us. They happily sat us without any eye rolling or a recitation of the rules. We had drinks and a mix of apps and desserts - good service, good fun, good tab for the restaurant and good tip for our server.
          We certainly would have understood if we could not have been accommodated as we had no reservation but they had the empty seats and we were willing to pay to sit in them. Isn't that what the business is all about?

          1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

            following us outside was the straw that broke the camel's back...

            1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

              I'm with mjc and mcm--this is a tough economy and Main Street is full of closed restaurant doors. For restaurant owners to be presenting with that attitude, however "matter of fact," doesn't bode well for this restaurant.

              1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                Wow, a lecture from someone who doesn't need a lecture. I didn't say that 8 o clock was "late". 8 o clock is busy, showing up without reservations anywhere is a gamble. I don't think anything that he heard from Laura was out of line, although her delivery may have been off-putting. You find matter-of-factness all over the state of Maine, you should not expect Portland-style sophistication everywhere, you'll be oft-disappointed and will miss out on some great food.
                And I think that her going outside to tell you "sorry that's just the way I am" is kind of charming. (Though again, I wasn't there, I didn't hear the delivery).

                1. re: HaroldandMaude

                  I guess we'll agree to disagree on how a successful restaurant should be run.

                  I can tell you, at a minimum, she lost out on $200-300 worth of revenue that night.

              2. If a next time: Be sure to carry the "born in Bangor" appropriate docs and when owner-assaulted again, puff it right up and say "do you know who I was?"
                Imagine trying this dance at one of Portland's best!

                1. I'm sorry to hear about your experience with Laura, the hostess and co-owner. She's rough around the edges, but very nice once you become a regular. I'm glad you posted this experience because this restaurant is too good to fail for something as easily fixable as customer relations in one specific circumstance (no reservation). I got this treatment as well my first few times trying to get in on busy nights. You really do need a reservation as there is limited seating, and it's a very popular place- easily the best and most sophisticated food for many miles around. The chef, Melissa, is getting better too. Last time we went everything was spot on perfect. Her food could easily compete among the best places in Portland. It's too bad you missed out on Fiddlehead, because you really would have been impressed with the food.

                  Ipanema, to me, seems like the kind of place Gordon Ramsay would have a field day exploring their walk-in. Decent place to have a beer.. and nothing else. The last time we visited we waited 20 minutes before anyone greeted us and took a drink order- and it wasn't busy. The food was awful. The staff appeared young, inexperienced, and didn't seem to care.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: powermd

                    That's why I tend to ALWAYS give a place a 2nd (or even sometimes 3rd) chance. We don't particularly know what's going on with somebody....who knows...maybe her dog died that day or something. Though I will admit to continuing to go to particular places that have consistently bad service...only because the food is too good (that happened alot during my time in Boston).