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Nightmare at Average Joe's Needham.

What was I thinking, taking a family to a big box restaurant in the Average oasis of Needham? Got there at 6, on a weeknight, thinking we'd get earnest service in a timely manner. Hostess told us it would be 15 minute wait. After about 25 minutes of waiting and trying to avoid cataclysmic meltdown from our 2 hungry little kids, my spouse inquired about how much longer.... we got a vague answer of about 15 more minutes....which at that point was unacceptable. There were a number of other patrons who got there before us...and they were equally agitated, and frustrated. We've eaten at this Average, overpriced place before and we figured that we could make our dollar and patience go much further by walking down the street to a quaint pizza and pasta joint....

We had a great quiet meal at Comellas, no alcohol or free bread, but no big bill or drama either.

My hope for all the Needham restaurants that are opening up and trying to keep the doors open is that you are polite to your guests, and in exchange we will support you, and share the love for your small, family friendly restaurants.

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  1. No kidding. I've had two horrible experiences at NYAJ - it's SO average - and refuse to go there again. Stonehearth is great w. kids. So is Tu y yo.

    5 Replies
    1. re: sallyt

      Tu y Yo Needham is sadly closed. :(

        1. re: kt1969

          WHAT!?! That's awful! When did that happen? We loved it - and they were so nice to our kids :(

        2. re: sallyt

          Yep. For kids, Stone Hearth is IMO one of the best options in the area, and the pizza ain't bad either.

          1. re: sallyt

            Funny how people have very different experiences. I go to the Watertown NYAJs and have always had a great meal. I think the Needham restaurant is just too small.

            And I had a horrible experience the one time I went to that Stonehearth in Needham. Inept waitress who got the order wrong then was too embarrassed to even come by the table to check up on us. Burned appetizer for my friend. Dry pizza for me. And a loud, live jazz band on a weeknight when the restaurant was full of screaming kids and families. Never again.

          2. I had a shockingly mediocre meal there last summer, just shy of gross.


            1. This is typical of all the locations of that place. There is one in Acton that is always packed.. You can wait an hour for a seat there, and the food is barely average.. I dont get it...

              British Beer Company is another one.. They opened one in Westford a few years back. On a fri/sat night i have been told aprox TWO hours for a table!

              1. Glad you supported your local establishment.

                1. To be fair, Comella's is also a local chain, and while better value for the money, is certainly not fine dining.

                  1. nightmare sounds a little extreme. your 15 minute wait turned into 25+, not a catastrophe. you didn't get food poisoning, you didn't have rude service, your fish wasn't under done. hostesses aren't magicians. they can't magically have tables appear. sounds like the mistake was taking two hungry kids out to dinner and demanding it to go smoothly. sounds like an inconvenience, not a nightmare.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: bostonfoodz

                      I agree if that is their version of hell they have been pretty spoiled in eating out. I have been to that location a few times yes you have to wait for a table when you don't make a reservations and show up at dinner time, but once seated never a problem with service or food and surprising I actually like talking to my dinner partner while waiting.

                      That said has anyone named an independent joint in that area that is still open?? Comellas, Stone hearth seem all like chains to me.

                      I think people should think about what it takes to run a restaurant before they post such an outrageous titles.

                      Unless they start charging per minute you will never be able to judge waits with 100% accuracy.

                      1. re: lc02139

                        Sweet Basil is independent and still open, though you either love it or hate it, I guess. My mother recently described it as "that place where I ate that thing with all the oil."

                        1. re: lc02139

                          I think Center Cafe is still open...have had a few pretty good meals there. Along the railroad tracks in the center of town. Rice Barn for upscale Thai. The Japanese steakhouse, although that could be a chain and I wouldn't know it. Can't think of anything else off the top of my head. New place opening in old Bickford's spot called 3 Squares.

                          1. re: kt1969

                            Centre Cafe gets pretty jammed up, too. One consistently available and pretty decent option is Masala Art, though possibly not super toddler-appealing. Petit Robert frequently has openings at Needham prime time as well. NYAJ is really the most popular option from 6-7.

                          2. re: lc02139

                            Not a dinner joint, but The 50's Diner in that weird little hotel next to Whole Foods appears to be an indy diner...pretty good breakfast and lunch (not gourmet mind you, but inexpensive and tasty).

                        2. That's too bad. In the chain restaurant hell that is Methuen, NYAJ is one of the better options.

                          1. They take reservations.

                            1. Ate there once, years ago. With so much variable quality in this world, I'm glad to see they are still consistently bad. Maybe they should change their name to something a little more specific: Worse than Average Joe's. NYAJ makes you think it could go either way...

                              1. I've had mediocre meals there, but I am a little confused by your ire. You arrived without a reservation at a prime time (I'd imagine?) for people with kids. Is it really so shocking and a "nightmare" that there would be a wait?

                                1. I've had widely varying experiences at NYAJ - several good dinners at the one in Randolph, and a good one this past March at the one in Arlington Center. The food's not earthshaking, but not horrible, and we enjoyed the atmosphere at both of those locations.

                                  On the other hand, we've had nothing but disappointing experiences at the Watertown branch, and won't go there again.

                                  However, "nightmare experience" because you couldn't get a table, couldn't get a firm time estimate from the hostess, and your kids were melting down? That does seem just a wee bit exaggerated.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: Allstonian

                                    Do you have kids? The term "nightmare" seemed perfectly appropriate to me. I've been in similar situations, and it's AWFUL.

                                    1. re: sallyt

                                      But it's the restaurant's fault...how, exactly? What was the hostess supposed to do for this family with the squalling kids who arrived at 6 pm on a weeknight (which for a family restaurant is prime time) without a reservation? Kick another party out of a booth? I just don't see what the restaurant did wrong here.

                                      1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                        I agree. If this constitues a nightmare for you, you've led a charmed life.

                                        1. re: Steve L

                                          But even people who lead charmed lives have nightmares. ;)

                                      2. re: sallyt

                                        I don't have any kids but do have a niece and nephew who have gone to weddings, and awards dinner without any problems.

                                        I would say it was a "nightmare" and "awful" for all the other customers, not to the parents that put themselves in that position.

                                    2. I don't get the ire over a 25 minute wait either, but my real issue is classifying it as overpriced. For the Cape at least, it's a relative bargain bordering downright cheap. Although we're blessed to have just a handful or chains vs. some wonderful owner/operators, we also have an abundance of mediocre uncaring food priced much higher than the city and 'burbs. Joe's fills a need I guess. Not great ever, but I've never had a truly lousy meal, which is more than I can say for many independents here.

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: CapeCodGuy

                                        Sounds like they were quoted 15 and it stretched to 40 min. If crappy place like that takes more than twice as long as quoted to seat you, it pretty much has no value as even a quick family stop.

                                        I have only eaten at NYAJ once, but the meal (food, service) was adequately lousy never to give it another shot.

                                        1. re: Gabatta

                                          If the people who occupy the tables take longer to vacate than expected, then the quoted wait time is bound to lengthen. What's a hostess supposed to do, kick people out of their seats? Anyone familiar with NYAJ knows what to expect. Busy locations, decent service once seated, reasonably fresh ingredients with basic preparation. If they think it's crappy before they sit down, may as well go down the street to the pizza joint to begin with. If the kids have a major meltdown because of a 1/2 hour wait, it's probably best to eat at home anyway.

                                          1. re: CapeCodGuy

                                            Any restaurant that blows an estimated wait time by 2.5x has a poorly managed FOH, no other way to look at it really. Good to know that this is "what to expect" at NYAJ, all the more reason to avoid it.

                                            1. re: Gabatta

                                              I would agree if the quoted time was 1/2 hour and it turned into 1 1/2 hours. But this was 15 minutes that turned into (maybe) 40. Things happen. People linger. Or a host miscalculates. Happens.

                                              As someone said, it's average inexpensive fare, compared to a mini Cheescake Factory. I look at it as a step above a 99 or Unos, or any number of crappy places not worth going. I'm no fan, but we actually enjoyed a recent visit whilke at the mall in Hyannis. It was 5 pm. The place was hopping and there was a wait for a table. We opted to seat right away at the bar and enjoyed decent wines by the glass. I had a very reasonable Super Tuscan for just $7.50 for a nice 6 oz. pour, and the wife had some oak-y chardonnay for the same $. To our surprise, all apps were 1/2 price so we had a "tapas" style meal with very edible chicken dumplings, a goat cheese flat bread, well prepared seared sea scallops, and so-so typical coconut shrimp. Lots of food for about $20 plus tax and tip. I'd go back for that. Wouldn't rush back for dinner as I'm not a chain fan.

                                        2. re: CapeCodGuy

                                          I would absolutely agree with your assessment of NYAJ, though I can only speak for the Hyannis location. It's always been perfectly adequate, especially for an impromptu evening out, and particularly when my now-older teens were younger and pickier. Ditto for Bertucci's (Hingham location--have had not so great experiences at others) and even Panera. Would I choose these for a date night? Of course not. Quick meal with the kids? Sure.

                                        3. That's prime time in Needham, for the same reason you were looking to go there then (seems like you're not allowed to live there unless you have hungry toddlers). However, the place empties out around eight, when all decent folk are asleep.

                                          1. I think of NYAJ locations as "mini-Cheesecake Factories". Same sort of something-for-anyone menu, same average food where nothing's really terrific but nothing's really awful, either, more or less. Same massive wait times. Same cocktails -- lots of mojitos and flirtinis and skinny-girl drinks.

                                            I've had some really decent salads there, and the flatbreads are worthwhile. Otherwise, eghhh.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Boston_Otter

                                              If you stick to the menu's strengths -- which I agree are the salads and flatbreads, and some of the apps are pretty tasty as well -- a decent NYAJ's can be a relative oasis in the chain-restaurant burbs. Although a big part of the problem is that not all locations are the same: as Allstonian noted, we don't even bother with the Watertown Square location anymore. Problems every time. But the Randolph one is solid, and the room itself reminds me of the great '50s space-age family restaurants of my southwestern upbringing.

                                            2. Had a less than memorable meal at the one in Hingham recently. Food mediocre, drinks weak, etc.

                                              However I am with the camp that says you are the parent. Taking 2 hungry kids out during prime dining time in a family oriented town is a classic parenting mistake. NYAJ is on open table and they also hold tables for call in's. all it takes is a quick trip on line or a phone call to avoid your typical walk in wait.

                                              Of course none if that matters if the current diners don't vacate on time...

                                              1. Had the restaurant apologized, or even been remotely polite to any of us waiting, we would have stayed and waited.

                                                And, even before I had kids, I would NEVER wait 30 or 40 minutes for a meal.

                                                Some better places he hosts will offer waiting parties apps or bread, and there is an actual waiting area. In this particular location we were wedged between the front door and the bar, with no place to sit, and every time someone walked to thru the bar area, my kids got knocked in the head with their bags and purses. At one point we went outside to pass the time....

                                                The attitude that patrons should wait, without limit or honest anticipated wait time is what was the most troublesome.

                                                And, Yes, we were regulars at Tu Y Yo, and are very sad that it closed....not surprised, but we supported it as much as we could, approximately once a month.

                                                26 Replies
                                                1. re: cheesehead in recovery

                                                  I'm sorry, but I just can't understand the expectation that one should be able to walk into any restaurant without a reservation, at prime dinner hour no less, and not be required to wait 30 or 40 minutes to be seated. That would be the norm at almost anywhere worth going. I'm guessing you've never eaten in say, the North End where it's not unusual to wait well over an hour, and sometimes two for a table, and then another hour more to get your entree. And in all the restaurants I've eaten in around the world, I've never seen the host offer bread or apps to those waiting for tables. Who does this?

                                                  1. re: CapeCodGuy

                                                    I am with you. Especially having that expectation of a chain that accepts reservation for any size parties.

                                                    I think he OP stated it best: "what was I thinking" is right.

                                                    It's one thing if the restaurant feels its their fault. Ie you have a 7pm reservation for 6 but for whatever reason you have to wait. Ok - get the comped whatever. Your a walk in? Hostess underestimates? Your kids are already getting hit in the head- where are they going to put this free bread etc that you want?? Please.

                                                  2. re: cheesehead in recovery

                                                    Which local restaurants offer appetizers to walk-ins while they wait? I've never seen that before.

                                                    Then again, I usually think of "the waiting area" as "the bar"...

                                                    1. re: LeoLioness

                                                      And we are so fortunate that people under 21 can actually wait in the bar here...in WA, where my parents live, you can't even set foot in the bar area with kids.

                                                      1. re: LeoLioness

                                                        While I've encountered this once in a blue moon, it's certainly not something to be expected. And you know what's ironic? One of the only times was at the NYAJ in Lexington, where they handed out some quesadilla to those waiting. It's always disappointing when a projected wait time extends past what was originally cited - but cut them some slack. It's not an exact science.

                                                        1. re: chevrelove

                                                          I am shocked at all the outrage towards the OP. Of course estimating wait time is not an exact science and sometimes the wait is longer and often it is shorter. However, when a hostess tells a party that the wait will be 15 min and it turns into something closer to 40 that is unacceptable and is almost always due to inexperienced front of house operations as someone mentioned above especially in a restaurant with dozens of tables where there is always turnover. 10-20 minutes more than the estimated wait time is reasonable and is almost always sufficient time to cover poor wait time estimates. I had to go back and re-read the original post because the way people were jumping down cheesehead in recovery's post, it seemed like he/she was quoted 15 minutes and threw a fit when the table wasn't ready a few minutes after the projected time.

                                                          1. re: Gordough

                                                            i don't get your outrage at the outrage. :-) (And actually, I'm not sure anyone who posted is truly outraged at the OP, just in disagreement) You say that 10-20 minutes more than the estimated time is reasonable, so in this case, a total of a 25-35 minute wait is perfectly fine. Yet somehow 5 more minutes, or 40 minutes total, is totally unacceptable? Does the extra 5 minutes really make a difference?

                                                            1. re: Gordough

                                                              I'm not outraged. I'm genuinely curious where these good restaurants that feed you while you wait for a table are.

                                                              1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                yea i want to know that too. Id like to go wait at a few places, get fed and then leave!

                                                              2. re: Gordough

                                                                So 40 minutes is "unacceptable" and 300 seconds less is "reasonable" in your book?

                                                                That's a thin margin of error.

                                                                1. re: C. Hamster

                                                                  My point exactly, but you said it so much more simply!

                                                                2. re: Gordough

                                                                  What I'M surprised by is the level of snark and rudeness toward the original poster. So, you don't agree? You can just say, "wow, this seems like the wait was long, but doesn't reflect on more than the service." Or something similarly kind. It feels unnecessary to be so rude. Someone responded to my post, when I said that it felt nightmarish to me, that I must have led a "charmed life if that feels like a nightmare." well, you know what? I HAVEN'T led a charmed life. At all. Yet, if I were waiting at primetime for a long time with two toddlers, I think that I'd turn to my husband and say, "holy crap, this is a nightmare."

                                                                  So can't we all agree to be a little, well, NICER?

                                                                  (maybe I'm in the minority - feel free to say so. Albeit nicely).

                                                                  1. re: sallyt

                                                                    I'll admit to being turned off by the title of the post. That's all a lot of people reading this site will see. I was all "what did they *do* to this person?!" to read on to find what I thought to be a pretty minor beef, then concluded, personally, the poster had unreasonable expectations prompting a "vendetta" post.

                                                                    Just my opinion, I hope my perspective is helpful.

                                                                    I am not in the restaurant business, but I know it's a very tough business, the impact of such a post is impossible to measure, I think we all have a responsibility to be reasonably balanced.

                                                                    1. re: Carty

                                                                      I think one underlying factor were the kids, not the establishment. The OP certainly understands that a couple of hungry kids can make a situation intense.

                                                                    2. re: sallyt

                                                                      thank you.
                                                                      1) I haven't lived a 'charmed life' I've worked my whole life to get myself to where I am today so that I may have the modest ability to eat out on occasion. Yes i've worked in food service and I've worked in industrial factories, and I worked my way thru college and paid my own way for an advanced degree. Nothing charming about hard work and true grit.

                                                                      2) There is nothing more irritating than to have someone lie to you, just to get you to stand around and wait, and wait, wait when there are other choices.

                                                                      3) This isn't a high end restaurant. Never will be and doesn't position itself as such. Reservations are not required. When I do go to such an establishment, I won't be taking 2 toddlers, and yes, I will likely have a reservation.

                                                                      Candor is required to earn patron trust.

                                                                      1. re: cheesehead in recovery

                                                                        Wherever reservations are not required, and you come to a restaurant of this sort that is already busy, take the estimate of your wait with a grain of salt. It's in the nature of these establishments that it's a crapshoot. NYAJ does take reservations, I should note, and I always make them if I want to lessen the crapshoot factor (even so, I am not shocked if I have to wait a bit), it's just few people seem to bother, which means managing turnover is more of a guessing game.

                                                                        What *I* resent is fine dining restaurants that deliberately overbook so you have to wait an hour to have your reservations honored - which they want you do to at the bar, of course. NYAJ is not that situation (in fact, in your situation, given that you had kids in tow, you can safely assume they'd prefer to get them seated than keep all of you in the bar area - kids are not good bar mojo...). I think many people here thought your expectations were geared more towards this situation rather than the reality of NYAJ. It's not outrage; it's about honest feedback about the realism of expectations. As they say in recovery circles, expectations are pre-meditated resentments (so, they tend to invite a waste of energy).

                                                                        1. re: cheesehead in recovery

                                                                          Do you really think the hostess *lied*?

                                                                          Was she thinking: Heheheh ill tell these suckers 20 minutes wait time when I "know 100%" it will be longer in order to ensure they stay for dinner?

                                                                          What's her motivation to lie? They place sounded packed to begin with. Do you really think she care if you stayed or left? Don't you think maybe she would prefer you took your 2 "on the verge of a meltdown" toddlers elsewhere?

                                                                          1. re: ac106

                                                                            I do think that hey often err on the side of optimism to keep people there, particularly if they have a bar.

                                                                            I've always believed that the magic grace period is 15 minutes. For a reservation to be honored, for a guest to be late for a reso, and for a wait time estimate. For the resto side, anything more ad I'm angry. As a guest, I have no reason to complain if they give up my table.

                                                                            1. re: jgg13

                                                                              A grace period of 15 minutes for a wait estimate for a walk-in a place that is largely walk-in is deeply unrealistic. (I myself employ the 20 minute rule for the other situations you describe; but in this one, I know it's a crapshoot where that rule is not realistic and therefore not a reasonable expectation).

                                                                              Again, in a situation where a party has young kids, the bar incentive to prolong the wait is not there.

                                                                              1. re: Karl S

                                                                                I'd much rather them say "I really have no idea at all" than just make a number up. I expect them to use some degree of accuracy on those numbers as I (and presumably others) use that number to gauge whether or not I'm interested in sticking around. Every time they underpredict, particularly when it is egregious, I feel that I've been rooked.

                                                                                These people should have a good sense of a typical flow. Yes there are anomalous nights but in general they should be able to give a pretty durned accurate sense of things - they see the same patterns play out, night after night after night. In the aggregate that's a lot of data to work with. Instead most places that I go seem to always give me the same number regardless of how long the wait appears to be - whether they choose 15 mins, 30 mins, etc.

                                                                                The real solution to this would be for places to have a designated maximum time at the table and enforce it, but people would blow a head gasket over that. In fact they do, as it comes up now and then on the topic boards here.

                                                                                1. re: jgg13

                                                                                  So, you've validated that what the hostess did here is not uncommon, and perhaps is common for this context.

                                                                                  1. re: Karl S

                                                                                    I never argued that it wasn't common. I've argued that I give them a 15 min window before getting pissed. They have a large enough data set that in the aggregate they should be able to give an accurate time range most times

                                                                                  2. re: jgg13

                                                                                    I think the "outrage " here is related to what is perceived as an overreaction to a simple 40 minute wait for a walk-in to a busy establishment. The hole was only dug a bit deeper when the hostess was accused of lying. I'm surprised this thread has had the legs it has. It is, however, a good example of the possible negative effects of the internet and review sites on establishments, where anyone can become a critic, no matter how minute the grievance.

                                                                              2. re: ac106

                                                                                Did the hostess lie? I have no idea, I wasn't there.

                                                                                That said, my 25 YO daughter works as a server in a CT chain (bar and casual food) on weekends. They asked her to hostess a few weeks ago to cover for a sick employee. Daughter was given a 10 minute training and instructed to tell customers that the wait time was 1/2 what management expected it to be. Daughter finished the shift, but told GM she would not hostess again under those terms. Besides she makes much more money serving.

                                                                              3. re: cheesehead in recovery

                                                                                NYAJ may not be high end but does take reservations. All could have been avoided by a simple phone call.

                                                                                And while you may not have lived a charmed life something has made you bitter and suspicious. To think the gal at the front of the house lied to you is a really negative and pessimistic view if the world, especially from someone who claims to have worked in the industry.

                                                                                What was her motivation for lying? Seriously, not snarky? Do you think she was deliberately trying to piss you off? Giggling later about making this sucker wait?

                                                                                Anyone who has worked in a restaraunt knows that customers are a fickle bunch. People get the check and then sit for a while enjoying their coffee or the company and not payibg like expected. Even the most seasoned hostess can underestimate the time if the customers don't cooperate. And what could she have done? Forced someone to leave?

                                                                                You also have the choice to vote with your wallet, like you did, and go elsewhere. I guess I just don't see how's this was a "nightmare" other than choosing to dine out with two small hungry children without the foresite of pre planning.

                                                                      2. re: cheesehead in recovery

                                                                        I have waited up to three hours, with kids, for a meal. It wasn't fun.

                                                                        At no restaurant anywhere in the country have I ever been offered bread or appetizers, or even a glass of water. I think that's a bizarre expectation.

                                                                      3. I do have to agree that it's not the restaurant's fault. It's your expectations' fault.

                                                                        In Needham +6:00 pm + popular family friendly chain restaurant + no reservation = a considerable wait.

                                                                        1. Well, in the future, to avoid nightmares like this, only go to places that take reservations or at times when they are not crowded.

                                                                          The only flaw in what the restaurant did was giving you a wrong time frame; that said, at a restaurant of this sort, I would not expect fine service in that regard because it's not a fine dining establishment by any stretch of the imagination. In a restaurant without reservations, there's no good way to manage table turnover expectations. It comes with this turf.

                                                                          1. We occasionally go to the NYAJ's in Arlington when it's convenient. We expect to wait even on a weeknight. We wait at the bar or eat there. I know it may not be an option to eat at the bar with the kids, but you could wait there. Get them Cokes to shut them up.

                                                                            I am not expecting astounding food there. There are certain items I know I like. I usually end up getting appetizers and/or a sandwich anyway. The service is always fine.

                                                                            1. I empathize with the frustration, but managing waits for walk-ins is an inexact science -- campers can screw up an evening for a lot of patrons -- and I think you have to scale your expectations to the venue.

                                                                              Have the host at Menton be this far off and maybe you can kick this hard. The level of skill and experience at the host stand that this kind of restaurant can afford to hire is rather lower, so I think I would try to be more forgiving.


                                                                              1. I'm actually a big fan of NYAJ's, but the Needham location has its issues. The restaurant is quite small as compared to other locations, and it fills up relatively quickly on the weekends and some weeknights.

                                                                                On the flipside, I've been to Comella's twice, and I've regretted it both times. On both occasions, I've had to bus a table to clear a table for myself. This is something that I don't want to do when I'm dining out. In addition, I find the floors have too much trash and much in the corners.

                                                                                As the other said, waiting longer than the 15 minutes isn't the end of the world (however I can understand with two kids). On my last visit to NYAJ Needham, there was a family with two rowdy kids which were causing an issue; the manager ended up comping us the meal in full without us ever raising a fuss.

                                                                                1. Tough spot to be in when the kids are hungry.....no matter what restaurant you choose. When my family and I decide to venture over to NYAJ's, we try to make a reservation. If all else fails, then we call ahead. Usually it takes me about 30 minutes to mobilize the kids and get everyone in the car to get to the Watertown NYAJ's. I call just before 'mobilization', and the wait is generally very short.

                                                                                  Of course, OC's strategy of leaving and eating somewhere else works as well. Key to this: maximize household happiness and minimize stress and anxiety.

                                                                                  1. While the waiting issue I don't have a problem with, I'm always surprised when anyone has anything good to say about what I call Utterly Below Average Joe's. I've only eaten at the Watertown outlet (horrific), and the original in Dartmouth (slightly less than horrific, but still not good). It's edible, but I have higher standards than edible.

                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: kimfair1

                                                                                      If the wait's not an issue, then there's really nothing to complain about, as knowing what they are, anyone who goes there does it with eyes wide open.

                                                                                      1. re: CapeCodGuy

                                                                                        Yeah, it's a chain family restaurant. For what it is, I think it's pretty good and like it compared to Chili's, The 99, Bugaboo Creek, etc. It's not intended to be a high standards dining experience.

                                                                                        1. re: Steve L

                                                                                          yes! so much better than the 99! The apps (half price 3 to 6 weekdays during happy hour) are fine as are the salads.

                                                                                    2. I haven't read the entire thread, but anyone with two little kids gets that the difference between 15 and 40 minutes is HUGE. If a hostess quoted me 40, I'd leave. 15, I'd stay. So yeah, I'd be peeved too. "Nightmare" probably hyperbole, but whatever.

                                                                                      I'd think a place like NYAJ could estimate their wait pretty accurately. Lots of tables.

                                                                                      That said, NYAJ generally blows. OP was probably better off. I had a couple of truly bizarre experiences at the Arlington location.

                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: MrsCheese

                                                                                        Was told 15 minutes on Tuesday, it was only 5 minutes. Service was great, food was as good as I hoped for.

                                                                                        1. re: L2k

                                                                                          L2K - in Needham? I've had horrible food - and service - there. And this is not hyperbole. The first meal, I had to track down on our waiter in the kitchen because he failed to give me a kids' menu, and I couldn't find anyone else. The second time, our server was so terrible - and forgot food - that the manager came over and apologized and comped half our meal. Different servers, incidentally. Food was completely average - salads both times, I think.

                                                                                          1. re: sallyt

                                                                                            That's the closest one to me, and we are there 5-6 times/year.

                                                                                            And they've screwed up many times: slow food delivery, undercooked/overcooked items, forgotten dishes, etc, etc. And they have never failed to make things right, either by comping an item, or the whole bill.

                                                                                            We're not bringing kids, so we don't have to worry about that end of things, and we know the food isn't gourmet, but it's decent and tasty (the Asian chicken dumplings last week were very good, and the burgers and pizza are always good).

                                                                                            Set your expectations for "decent neighborhood fare at a reasonable price", and you shouldn't be disappointed.