I had a very bad experience at a restaurant last night; it was the second time I had a bad experience there this month. Let me preface last night’s disaster with the original encounter:
Two weeks ago, I decided to treat the family to take-out. I was going to pick up some Buffalo chicken fingers at a restaurant that specializes in and is famous for its Buffalo chicken, “Waxy’s.” So I call the family and tell them that I am picking up dinner and go to the restaurant.
The restaurant is semi-busy. A few customers at tables, three people in line, and a few waiting for their take-out orders. A few more people come in while I am waiting. A young man appears from the back to help take orders (he will be cashier boy #1). My order was very simple, 20 piece Buffalo chicken fingers, mild sauce. He rings it up and I pay. He then turns and whispers something to the guy working on orders. I move to the side to let the next person order.
While I am waiting, a man comes up and starts talking to the guy making orders. Yep, across the order counter and the metal divider that mostly hides the kitchen from view but has a “window” or shelf the prepared food is placed on, and you can sort of see some of what is going on in the kitchen. From what I heard, they were friends who hadn’t seen each other in a while, but instead of catching up when the cook was off or on break, they had a full-on conversation, complete with a few expletives.
My order comes up, is bagged and I’m off for home. A few miles up the road, however, I run into a major traffic jam. We do have moderately heavy traffic around this time but usually not this bad. After sitting in the same spot for 20 minutes, I figure it must be a bad wreck (turned out it was). I call the family to let them know I will be delayed.
The chicken smelled so good and I was hungry so I decided to eat a piece. When I opened the container, I was disappointed. Instead of chicken fingers tossed in Buffalo sauce, I had chicken fingers that looked like someone had beat with a hammer, threw in the container, and squirted ketchup on! Because traffic had backed up behind me and there was no exit or turn-off in sight, I decided to call the restaurant. I got the assistant manager “Mimi.” I explained the situation. She asked me to hold while she spoke to the line manager “Brian.” (Brian is the guy who had a conversation with his friend across the counter while I was there.) She did not put me on hold, but laid the phone down on the desk because I hear her yell for Brian and heard the entire conversation.
According to Brian, cashier boy #1, who took my order, rang up the wrong thing but instead of just correcting it, he let Brian know the “right” order (that must be what he whispered earlier). Mimi comes back on the line and repeats the conversation I just heard. I told Mimi that the young man should have just corrected the mistake, but instead I was stuck with food that was not prepared properly because I had no way of getting out of the traffic jam and driving back to the restaurant to get the correct order. Mimi instructs me to write her name on my receipt, and next time I come in she will personally prepare my food and make sure it is correct, for free. I reply great, but it may be a week or two before I come back. No problem, she says.
So last night I decided that I would go back and get my personally prepared, correct order. I call to make sure Mimi would be working. Mimi answers and says she worked the day shift and would be leaving before I arrived, but she would let the line manager, Brian, know I was coming. Oh, joy! Brian is working again. Maybe I’ll get to hear him and another friend chat and curse!!
I arrive at the restaurant and get in line. They were a little busier than last time. When I get to the cashier/order taker, I ask to speak to Brian. I am told that Brian is on break so I can wait for him or I could talk to Mimi. Oh, goody, Mimi is still here! I told her that speaking with Mimi would be fine.
Mimi comes to the counter. I tell her who I am and that we spoke two weeks ago and then earlier today. She seems not to remember so I briefly explain and present my receipt with her name on it. She still does not seem to understand so I have to explain again. Finally she mutters something, punches a few buttons on the register, says my food would be coming right up and disappears. I never see Mimi again.
All of the take-out waiting chairs are taken so I stand over to the side of the counter and wait. And wait. And wait. All of the cashiers/order takers have disappeared; boxed and plated food is sitting on the shelf between the kitchen and counter but there was no one to give it to customers. Finally, cashier boy #1 – the one who messed up my order two weeks ago – comes out and starts bagging and calling numbers. He asked me what my number was and I told him that I did not have one (Mimi didn’t give me a receipt or slip). I tried, as briefly as possible, to explain the situation. He said he would check on it and disappears to the kitchen area.
Another lady was standing next to me with a receipt in her hand and she is obviously upset. She had been standing there a while. When the girl cashier came back from the kitchen area she asked the lady if she could help her. The lady said she was still waiting on her chocolate milkshake that she had ordered 25 minutes ago. The girl said oh, I completely forgot you were waiting. I’ll get that for you now. She goes to the shake machine, makes a shake and brings it back. It’s the wrong kind of shake. The lady says to forget the shake; she would like her money back. The girl says I’ll have to get the line manager, Brian, to refund your money. It might take a while; he is busy in the back. You can see that this lady is about to lose it. Her husband walked up and wanted to know what was taking so long to get a shake. Cashier girl beats a hasty retreat to the kitchen area.
While she is waiting for Brian to come refund her money and I am still waiting for my chicken fingers, another order is comes up. Cashier boy #1 comes back from the kitchen area and calls the number for the order that is ready. The couple comes up to get the order. It’s wrong. The woman asked for no lettuce, no tomato and no barbecue sauce. It has all three. The boy reaches to get the plate, and somehow the sandwich gets dumped on the man’s hand, barbecue sauce and all. The boy grabs a towel and hands it to the man, and disappears into the kitchen area to fix a new sandwich.
Brian and the cashier girl return to the counter. Brian refunds the lady’s shake money and requests that she write her name and number on the back of the receipt. I mention this only because it seemed very odd. Has anyone else ever had to do this?
When that is finished, Brian asks me what I was waiting for. I explain through clenched teeth for the third time. He says he will get my order made and off to the kitchen area he disappears. I had been waiting for 35 minutes for chicken fingers! With all that I observed while I was waiting, I began to lose hope that I would ever see these chicken fingers.
Finally, about 10 minutes later, a different cashier boy comes to the counter. Brian literally throws my chicken fingers on the shelf and tells him to “get those to that woman before she has a fit.” Really?!? I have very politely waited for 45 minutes for some chicken fingers because cashier boy #1 and Brian messed the order up the first time, two weeks ago, and he gets snarky about correcting it? I seriously considered throwing the chicken fingers at Brian but I was afraid I would miss him and hit an innocent employee.
During both incidents, not once did anyone ever apologize for the mistake, not even when I called the first time, or for the fact that it was taking so long to get it corrected. Now I know any crew could have a bad night, but what I witnessed last night was the worst thing I have ever seen. I had eaten at this particular restaurant several times before and had been quite pleased, so this experience has left me dumbfounded as to what has happened to this staff.
I did get the general manager’s name and I am considering if I should call or not. I fear that if his staff, including the line and assistant manager, behaves in such a way, what he will be like? Will he even care?
Any suggestions, advice or comments would be greatly appreciated.