Tuesday, May 08, 2007

R & R & R in Waterbury

It's so comfortable and quiet here! (Except, perhaps, for the slowest, most annoying street sweeper working Randall Street.)

Trying to balance my bank account – off by $144. Finances a bit worrisome now. My $10k transfer went through, so the trip can go forward. But soon I must start earning some money. So far during this trip, I've given no thought to the matter.

Posting photos from the past week on the blog. A warm day. Went to the hardware store to buy gloves and shears. Found both items at remarkably low prices (made in China, of course): $2.99
for work gloves and $3.97 for pruning shears!

As requested, I pruned Jeff’s roses and a few other plants that required attention. I was bothered by Matt’s self-centeredness. He frequently comes over to his dad’s house to take things, but rarely, if ever, seems to give back. Tonight we planned to go out for dinner. He said he would let me know by 2:00 what his plan was - he was going to play golf with friends today.

I never heard from him. He eventually left Kellie a message that he would meet us at the restaurant at 8:00. Kellie got off work at 6:00 and was hungry. “We always have to wait for Matt,” she said.

Kellie and I drove the Pilot to "Roque’s" in Burlington. It was busy. There was a 40-minute wait for a table, we were told. The bar was full, so we went outside to walk around, enjoying the sunset.

We were finally seated and a few minutes later, Matt arrived, relating how well his first golf outing had gone. I realize in spending time with them, I don’t have much in common with these “kids”. They’ve been raised in a very different world from mine. Kellie likes Harleys and pick-up trucks and country music! But we still have fun together.

The dinner can be summed up in this message I wrote to the owner:

Last night I took my niece and nephew out to dinner at your Burlington restaurant. I am visiting from California, but they are locals, and have enjoyed your restaurant in the past. They suggested we go there.

The food was good. (It was surprising to find quality Mexican food in the Northeast!) The service however was disappointing. I attribute our server's poor performance to her lack of experience: it appeared she was new to food service.

Most troubling was the way I was personally treated by the manager, (manager's name).

At the table, my nephew ordered a strawberry margarita. It turned out to be quite weak and tasteless. (All three of us tried it and agreed.) When our server failed to appear for ten minutes or so, he flagged another server, reported the problem and asked if he might order another drink instead. He even suggested they sample it to confirm his claim, but the server said they could not do that.

When our server finally appeared, she told my nephew in a rather doubting manner "are you sure?" She took the drink away, and brought him the substitute he requested.

At the end of the meal, the server placed the check on the table, said "I'll take it when you're ready" and disappeared. I noticed the margarita and the substitute drink both on the bill. After waiting another ten minutes or so, I finally got up from the table to search for our server. Finding her, I asked her if she were going to remove the margarita. Without answering, she said "would you like to speak to the manager?"

The manager came out from the kitchen. He apparently knew the situation because he approached, saying "are you the one with no tequila in your margarita?" (We never stated there was "no tequila", only that it was a very weak drink.)

He said that he couldn't remove the charge from our bill. "I can't 'comp' alcohol."

I explained that if we knew we would be charged for the margarita, we would not have ordered another drink. but the server said nothing when she took the margarita away. I told (manager), my nephew did not drink the margarita.

With an air of disgust, he agreed to remove the charge. He then proceeded to explain (as if addressing a child) "he ordered a strawberry margarita because he didn't want to taste the tequila. I can assure you there was tequila in the drink." (Again, I never claimed there wasn't.)

This was quite inappropriate, and unprofessional. I had to "bite my tongue". I simply thanked him.

I have been a professional in the wine, food service and hospitality industry since 1975. My niece and nephew both work in food service. Their well-being depends upon valuing and respecting customers. It was with reluctance my nephew even mentioned his dissatisfaction with the margarita.

(Manager's name) displayed a lack of understanding and appreciation for the fundamental principle of food service. For me, this ranks among the most unpleasant of dining experiences. The quality of personnel is an absolutely critical element in creating a successful enterprise.

I felt it important to share this story with you.

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