California is open for business – restaurant review

Our state opened all the way up on Wednesday, which is a good thing for many businesses. Restaurants in our area had been open at a percentage, so it wasn’t a complete opening of floodgates. I had purchased a beer club membership for my husband for Father’s Day, so we went to the restaurant to have dinner and pick up our membership goodies. I’m not going to name it, suffice to say it is a popular chain restaurant that has beer.

We got to the restaurant around 6:15pm. The restaurant was not busy yet, with a 20 minute wait time. Given the fact that they were adjusting to seating volume, that wasn’t too bad. There was room in the bar area, and for some reason everyone else that checked in was given the option of sitting in the bar except us. Maybe we looked too old for bar seating, though some older regulars had it all figured out. In they went. If that had been an option that we were made aware of, we would have taken it. We were able to be seated at a table fairly quickly enough though.

They have a code to scan on the tables for the menu instead of handing out physical menus. It is a great idea when it works. Unfortunately, the online menu was still indicating to-go only and if you hit the back button, it took a long time to refresh so you could see the menu. The app was even slower. We wound up asking a couple of times for a paper menu before we finally got them.

It seems like our server was new, and couldn’t keep track of the 6-8 tables she had. We almost got someone’s order three different times while we were there. The establishment doesn’t set the tables ahead of time, so we had to ask a few times for plates and utensils when the appetizer was delivered. The table across from us ordered a salad and it took almost 5 minutes for someone to bring them silverware. Our first beers took 15 minutes to arrive to the table after the order was placed (it wasn’t very busy yet, just steady), we had to bug the server a couple of times for my husband’s second beer (that took another 20 minutes to receive after placing the order), and we don’t believe she ever took the order for my second beer. After another 15-20 minutes we told her to cancel it since we wanted to wrap up the meal and leave, and she couldn’t find it on her tablet.

I had enrolled in the new beer club as a gift for my husband, which is why we went to dinner to pick up the product. All of the staff have t-shirts that say “ask about our beer club”, and our server had no idea on anything about it. Every question was met with a blank stare and “I don’t know”. She had to keep asking the manager for answers or what to do. The customer service issues continued in different ways. My husband’s napkin fell, a bus person picked it up, didn’t check to see if anyone might need a new one, and the server acknowledged when we asked for a new one but never brought one by the time we left 40 minutes later. The manager did have his hands full in our section. There seemed to be plenty of staff on the floor, and only our area seemed affected.

As to the food, my husband’s jambalaya was good. My order however, was not a happy event. I had ordered the double cut pork chop, which they were out of (it took the server 15-20 minutes after we placed the order to tell us) so I picked the half rack of ribs and two chicken thighs (the options were 1 breast or 2 thighs). The server repeated he order back correctly, but unfortunately, a thin chicken breast was what was delivered. Both of the proteins were cooked well, but the white cheddar potatoes were both gummy and dry (I didn’t know that was possible). The garlic roasted vegetables didn’t have very much garlic, and also were charred and underdone at the same time. The vegetables were perfect when I reheated the leftovers the next day. Then, when I was getting ready to pay, I noticed that the server hadn’t taken my first entrée off because of the order change. The cashier remembered that we had gotten there around 6 and gave us happy hour pricing on the beer (this might be a training issue for the server). What normally would have taken an hour to hour and a half took almost three hours for dinner.

I might not be a professional cook, but I have worked in restaurants and served tables. It is poor customer service to drop the appetizer on the table with a clunk and walk off without checking to see if anything else is needed. At that point we hadn’t even received plates, napkins or silverware. We had to ask twice. The major issue was a new waitress that had no idea what she was doing at all. She couldn’t keep track of her tables even though she had a tablet with her that had the information. She also had very long nails (I remember when I was 20) which made it so she punched orders in wrong, and she couldn’t retain the information long enough to make the correction. We had to keep repeating the order to her.

I will give props to the manager. He was aware that there was something amiss in our section and kept checking on all of the tables. He was very apologetic about any issues, and I’m sure that things will be addressed in a timely manner. It is an establishment that we frequented before the pandemic, and we will definitely give them another try. I think we’ll wait a few weeks so that the newer staff can be brought up to speed. Fingers crossed.

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