Saturday, August 09, 2008

Worst dining experience ever

At least, it was for the people around us. We were not exactly thrilled by it either.

We were visiting friends in Baltimore for a weekend. We had gone to the Baltimore Aquarium and then decided to visit a casual & inexpensive seafood restaurant for dinner. There were 12 of us - 6 adults (over 30) and 6 kids (under 5). We were, or course, every waiters nightmare. And we recognized that fact.  Every one of us had, at some point, put in a year or more in the restaurant business. We made sure to call ahead, to arrive at the family dining hour of 5pm, to bring our own sippy cups, goldfish and some toys.

Had the restaurant held up their end of the deal I think it would have been a much better experience for everyone. But they didn't so they have no one to blame but themselves. First, we had to wait 10 minutes for them to decide how to seat us, even though they knew we were arriving when we did. Second, instead of tucking us into one of their many alcoves (which were empty and would have seated us just fine) they pushed 3 tables together right in the middle of the main floor. (why would you do that?). Then there was the waiting.

We waited a rather long time for the drink order to be taken. Attempts to also place kid food orders or appetizers at the same time were rebuffed. We waited an even longer time for the drinks to arrive and then for the waiter to come back and actually take our food orders. No lie, we'd been seated 20 minutes before we were allowed to order food. Why didn't we leave at that point? It was pouring down rain and the cars were parked 2 blocks away.

The appetizers arrived in a timely fashion but nothing else. We'd asked them to put the kid meals in with the appetizers but that failed to happen. So we waited some more. Naturally 6 kids under the age of 5 are by now out of their minds with boredom & hunger (not being fans of calamari) and have nothing else to do but egg each other on in screaming and running matches. We can't take them outside for a run because it's still pouring rain. We're getting death looks from the entire restaurant and are actively looking around for our waiter so we can cancel the meal and go to Burger King when finally *some* of the food arrives. The rest of it would arrive 10 minutes later. This is not a matter of having 12 entrees to make at the same time. 1 adult chose to just have the appetizer, 1 was having a salad, 2 others were sharing an entree, so there were only 3 to make, plus the 2 kids meals we'd asked to have arrive around the same time as the 3 appetizers we'd ordered. I've seen tables of 5 order just as much food with far fewer problems.

The kids settled down and ate rapidly. No wonder, they were starving. They were done long before the adults, even before some of us had received our food. By now we are just as annoyed as the people around us & decided to stick it out and eat our meals rather than box them up. The waiter seemed to realize this and suddenly baskets of bread sticks appear at our table (where were they an hour ago?) to keep the kids occupied. Yeah, occupied.... Breadsticks make great swords.

Our longest wait was for the check. When the last of the food arrived we'd asked for the check right then. It didn't come. Time passed. Food was finished. Breadsticks were broken by breadsticks wielded by others. Time continued to pass.... One of our number even went looking for the manager so we could get our check. People at nearby tables asked their waiters to bring us our check. Eventually our check arrived and we were able to leave.

Surveying the stacks of plates, the numerous plastic cups, the food on the floor, the broken breadsticks everywhere and the disgruntled patrons one of our number observed "Chaos, destruction & misery. Our work here is done."

“This post was written for Parent Bloggers Network as part of a sweepstakes sponsored by Burger King Corp.”


Charming Lamb said...

You can always tell which people in the restaurant business do NOT have children!

Good job breaking them in...stupid minions. LOL

Kelly said...

leaving would have been better for them. good for you for punishing them! haha! maybe they will be more prepared next time. the next large family should thank you!!!

Tonya said...

Haha a page out of my life. We went to a local greek fast food sort of restraunt. My son was just over 2 at the time and he was not having a good day. He started crying really loud and some guy (who also had a kid with him) yells "take the kid outside". I was mortified, it took all I had to not break down and cry. We got my son settled and when we started to leave we walked passed his table and I said loud enough for him to hear "Heaven forbid your child ever have a bad day and cry, next time stay at home if you don't want to deal with kids in public". That made me feel better lol.

Harmony said...

Yikes! What a nightmare :( How frustrating when you do everything possible to make it a success, and it still doesn't work out right...

Heather said...

I think we were at that same restaurant when we went to Baltimore last but we only had 2 kids then and it was okay. We've had our share of waiting for the check places too and it is just bizarre! There is never an excuse for having to beg for a check especially when you are with kids!

AudreyO said...

What a shame that the story you share is so typical of customer service today. We almost never go to a restaurant and leave happy. We have a few tiny family owned places here in town and those are the places we go to. The others just never meet our expections.