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The good then the ugly. Canal Cafe [Hampton Bays]

I don't normally post on this board since we live outside of D.C. but I feel obligated to post after my experience this past weekend. We drove over an hour with family who live in Dix Hills because they said we had to try this restaurant for its view and fantastic lobster roll. We arrived and waited about 20 minutes and were seated outside at a waterfront table with a lovely view. We ordered a fried calamari appetizer and each one of us ordered a lobster roll. The food arrived promptly and was very good. Then the ugly. When paying our bill we handed our waitress 2 credit cards to split the bill. About 5 minutes our waitress returned and asked us if we had indeed given her 2 cards. We confirmed this and she said she had thought we had but she had lost my cousins credit card. She pulled out her iPhone and used the flashlight feature to try and find the lost card. 5 minutes later she returned and asked my cousin for another card. When asked what happened to the original card she became defensive saying it wasn't her fault. At that point we asked to speak to the manager. After another 5 minutes the owner/manager came out and said he lost the card. He did not apologize for the inconvenience this would cause. He said he thought he had dropped it under the bar. When we asked him to look for it he said he was too busy to do that. We then told him that we were going to have to cancel the card and that the card was tied into 15 or so merchants that monthly automatic debit the card and that this was going to be a big ,time consuming ,pain in the neck for us. He shrugged his shoulder. We then said at the very least he should comp our check which totaled $128 prior to tip. He said he would not do that and reluctantly offered us desert which we refused. We paid our check and left. We called the owner again the next day and he had not found the card and was very nonchalant about our very disappointing experience. He did not seem to care that his lack of concern was totally unprofessional and despite the quality of his food I believe that he likely will alienate diners again and run this restaurant directly into the canal. Both my cousin and I are physicians and know the importance of good customer service and how an experience like this one can ruin one's reputation. Therefore, despite a good lobster roll, you will never see me returning to this restaurant and I cannot recommend it to fellow chow hounds.

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  1. You put this in outer boroughs... what town was this in? There's a Canal Cafe in Hampton Bays on Long Island, too, just want to distinguish. Long Island is not a borough of the city.

    I'd be pretty pissed about the loss of the card and the nonchalance you describe, but no way I'd expect him to pick up the whole tab.

    I would expect sincere regrets and a credit for a return visit, drinks or dessert on him, is all. But you don't always get the right response.

    With my last fraud related replacement of my Amex, I did not have to notify anyone; all my automatic monthly billings appeared on the replacement card account without action on my part. Hope that happens for you.

    2 Replies
    1. re: mcf

      Hampton bays. Which is the correct place to post this. The check wasn't that much, the place was packed. He should have picked up the tab. His gesture of desert and that after we asked was grossly inadequate.

      1. re: dining with doc

        I guess we disagree about the comp; it's annoying but not a huge hardship. I do think he should have offered profuse apologies and something.

        I appreciate a comp if the meal has somehow been ruined, perhaps, but I never ask for it. I'd just not return if management didn't seem to care about us.

        I, too, really enjoyed the food and the view at Canal Cafe.

    2. The original comment has been removed
      1. I agree 100 percent with dining with doc since I was the other individual at the table!! The owner did not care about the situation and his statement of fact "I don't have time to look for your card" was just ridiculous. And to add insult to injury he probably told the waitress to tell us that she lost the card! There was absolutely NO sense of doing anything wrong - a simple apology and statement that say one lobster roll was on the house would have sufficed but when he was asked to comp part of the meal he simply stated "I will not so that"! He is a POOR businessman who happens to make an excellent lobster roll. I have been to this restaurant many times and his has made one loyal customer very angry!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        9 Replies
        1. re: mboxermd

          I agree that the manager handled it very badly if it's as described here, and now lots and lots of folks will know it. And he's lost your business and valuable word of mouth free advertising.

          It's always especially disappointing when you take folks to a favorite place and something unpleasant happens, too, right?

          We just have different views about asking to be comped.

          1. re: mcf

            I have a thing about people expecting to be comped right off the bat, without the restaurant first offering; it takes away from the initial disappointment and starts to sound like a spoiled child making demands. Sorry but there are two sides to every story; I've been to Canal Café and found them to be quite professional on every level. I can't imagine them brushing off a missing credit card quite as you describe.

            1. re: coll

              Well coll you are WRONG! I was there and it is exactly as described! Since I have been to this establishment many times as well I was floored by the response of the owner "I don't have time to look for you credit card which I dropped by the bar". There is NO confusion about this - four people were in our party and all four of us heard the same thing twice! In addition the waitress became very defensive and stated that is was not her fault. The hostess on the way out of the restaurant apologized to us about the situation! As dining with doc stated all was excellent until that time! There was no expectation for the meal to be comped BUT when the waitress explained the situation and then waited impatiently for me to take out another credit card after telling me that mine was lost was just wrong. At that point the owner of the restaurant should have come over to the table and apologized for the mishap - instead he came over to the table with an attitude like we had done something wrong!!! When they lose YOUR credit care - lets see how they deal with this situation with you now that they have had some practice!

              1. re: coll

                It happened as described. The behavior of the owner was so outrageous that I understand your skepticism. But it is the truth. Food was great but owner and waitress behavior and response was rediculous. By the way, they did nothing on their own to try to rectify the situation.

                1. re: dining with doc

                  Well I haven't been there in almost a year, so I will believe you! I don't like to go to the touristy places in July and August for just this reason. It gets a little too frantic for me.

                  Are you sure it was the owner, or was it the manager, just curious. I have a feeling he didn't like you demanding a free meal and that's where the attitude came from. Anyway, hopefully you've resolved things with your bank by now! Personally I'd be reporting the card stolen, not lost. Maybe the bank would like to look into it from their end.

                  1. re: coll

                    Yes he was the owner - since I couldn't believe his cavalier attitude I asked the hostess if he was the manager and she stated that he was the owner! As the owner he should never have sent out the waitress to make up a story that she had lost the credit card when he made it clear that he had dropped it by the bar! The entire situation was just ridiculous!!!

                    1. re: mboxermd

                      So did it fall into a crack in the floor, or what? I think we need Inspector Clouseau to investigate this matter!

                      1. re: coll

                        He claims he looked for it the following day when I called him in follow up and could not find the card - just very odd and the whole situation was very bothersome!!!

                        1. re: mboxermd

                          Sorry I'm joking around, I know I would be stressing about a missing credit card myself.

          2. My experience with two restaurants where I accidentally left my credit card was they never made an effort to notify me that they had the card. It was only when I contacted them that they acknowledged it. When I asked the first one, Pita House, to please throw it in the mail, they insisted that I come there to retrieve even though it was 40 minutes away in Patchoque, I have not been back there and never will.

            3 Replies
            1. re: budcar

              I've left my credit card lots of times, before you could swipe it. When I called the place they said they can't get any info from the bank itself, that's just how it is, but once you contact them no big problem. It's not the store's fault.

              1. re: coll

                I appreciate your response, but I would add that years back, there were telephone directories which might or might not prove helpful in helping locate a credit card's owner. Today, there are multitudes of telephone directories on the internet and I imagine calling the credit card company on whose number is on the back of every card might cause either an immediate cancellation of the card or , at least, giving the caller the card holder's zip code which would facilitate the investigation.
                The average restaurant might find this all too time consuming and that could be another reason they shy away from trying to locate an errant customer.

                1. re: budcar

                  But where is the credit card, that's the question. You didn't accidentally leave it behind which is different. If they found the card I'm sure they'd be anxious to let you know at this point, after all the excitement. Did you leave them your info, just in case?