When it's a restaurant, I don't send food back, I don't skimp on tips. I wait patiently even if it takes an hour for the food to arrive, I eat half-frozen sauce, heck, my husband and I ate a plate of slop that we aren't even sure was food because we didn't want the server/cook to feel bad...
But yesterday was by far the worst retaurant experience I have ever had. My frustration was so great that I burst out into tears right there in our booth. Why? Because it wasn't me that had to suffer through a crappy meal, it was my kid who wasn't being fed.
Here's what happened:
While adding to our Christmas shopping, my family and I decide to stop at one of the mall restaurants for dinner. It doesn't look busy, there are lots of open seats, and we are seated right away. Our server comes quickly, takes our drink order - since they didn't give us a kids' menu and there wasn't one in the regular menu, I ask the server if he can grab us one so that we can order for my son. He may be a year old, but he can eat just about anything, the only issue is that he doesn't have any teeth so it's easier for us to order off of the kids' menu because the food tends to be simple and easy to break apart.
The server says, "Sure thing." And then adds, "but since I'm here, do you want me to take your order? I won't ring it up until you order for the little guy."
Why not? So we place our order and off he goes to get us drinks and a kids' menu...
... or so we thought. I mean, it's a reasonable assumption, isn't it? Thankfully I bring treats with us to keep the little one happy.
He goes around to a few tables, taking orders. Which is fine. They were all side-by-side. Makes sense.
10 minutes go by. He comes back with a tray of drinks for at least three tables. We get our drinks, and it's pretty clear that that's all he has with him. So I ask, "Were you able to find a kids's menu?" I've been in places that don't get too much kid traffic and so they have to share about 5 kid menus for the whole restaurant, I'm not offended if he can't find one, but I'm ready to ask him what we could get started for my son -
but he quickly chimes in that he's working at "quadruple shift" and that he's "doing the best he can." Fair enough. No one likes a stressful day at work.
Except that the place still isn't full. There are other servers in and out of the kitchen. And there are two hosts up front not doing much of anything.
In hindsight, we probably should have just gone to the front ourselves to get a menu, but a) the server didn't mention that getting the menu would be such a hassle, and b) they have a whole freaking bunch up front that he just has to get, or ask someone else to grab for him.
So we have to wait for him to come back with the menu. Which he does... eventually. Long enough that I'm already getting pretty peeved and even my husband is asking me if I just want to walk out. A couple minutes after that exchange, the server comes back with a kids menu. And off he goes again.
We wait for him to come back so we can order for my son. Done. Mini burgers. Easy. Bun, patty, slice of cheese. That's it.
So he leaves. A minute later my husband and me's food arrives.
"Can I get you anything else?" asked random helper server (who probably could have brought us the menu if our server was so busy).
"No, we're just waiting for my son's food."
Off he goes and our server checked up on us right away. "Can I get you anything?"
"No, we're just waiting for my son's food."
"It'll be out soon," he promises.
So we wait.
We stare at our food eating the fries because the little one can eat those too.
We wait. We nibble.
Server checks in, "I saw it, it's on it's way."
I tell my husband to just eat his food. He'll be finished in no time and then he can hold the baby while I eat. It'll actually work out better this way.
So he eats. We nibble. I start breaking apart my burger so that the little one can have more than just fries.
"It's on it's way."
My husband has cleaned his plate. The server removes his plate. "It's on it's way."
I break up more of my burger and pass the little one to his daddy so that I can actually take a full bite of mine.
This continues. I break up pieces of burger for every bite that I take and place it in front of my son.
I never expected him to eat both mini burgers. But at this point he has already eaten the equivanlent of one mini burger plus a fair share of fries.
Now my plate is clean too.
Server takes away our plate. Still no meal. My son is done. He's curled up now, having a bottle.
If we thought a kids' meal would be this much of an issue, we wouldn't have bothered ordering it. It's not like he's going to eat it now.
"I saw it, it's coming."
"Just put it in a box," I say. "We're done."
Do you know what we didn't have to wait for? The bill. Full charge for everything. All three meals, all drinks. Satisfaction survey code on the bottom.
He comes back with a boxed meal and asks us if we need the machine.
That's my tipping point.
I don't look for free handouts, but some acknowledgement on their part would have been nice. Instead of blatantly lying to us about his food coming. Could you imagine if we had believed him enough to start eating our meals and left nothing for our son? And if the tables you have to serve are too much to handle, then it's up to the entire staff to close off sections and limit their patrons.
But no, here's the bill.
"I'm a little upset that my son didn't get his food until we got bill," I say, trying to keep myself together.
Server doesn't even blink, "Okay, I'll get the manager" and off he goes like water off a duck.
We had seen the manager go to other tables while we had been there. I don't know what over, but those tables also had children. Coincidence?
I don't know if the issue is in the kitchen. With the server not putting in the order. Or with the computer just not processing kid's meals that day. But EVERYONE in the food industry knows that you don't make kids wait for their meals. You want to ensure that EVERYONE has a bad day? Make a kid wait.
By the time the manager came out, I was so frustrated that I just started crying. This wasn't an extra 10 minute wait. This was my child not being served at all! And that's not right.
She apologized, and she comp'ed the whole meal.
Again, I wasn't searching for handouts, I don't do that. But I did have a problem with paying for a meal that we didn't receive. I offered to pay for the two meals that we did eat, but the manager took the bill from us and said, "No. You should not have to suffer because of our issues." She apologiesed again.
I did leave some money on the table. Someone did make our meals, and while I know that the money probably won't go to the people who actually deserve it, (I didn't even leave 10%), I just don't have the heart to leave nothing, though I'm sure I had every right to. If nothing else, my son is very good at leaving a mess behind him.
Well, I'm still very upset about the whole thing. We may or may not actually go back there, at least not until I've distanced myself from the experience.
I was going to write about it last night, right after it happened, but I just wanted to not feel like I was going to burst into tears at any moment all night.
Having slept on it, I have decided to not name the establishment, or even tag them as I really wanted to yesterday. That being said, I'm not going to lie about it, so if you really want to know which yyc/area restaurant we went to, I'll tell you. In fact, I've already had people ask as I've been ranting about it.
I don't intent to punish the franchise or the people who work for them, and I've eaten there several times before and had fine experiences. Then again, this is the first time the little one's ordered his own meal there.