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Friday, November 20, 2009

Tacoma Mainstay Restaurants A Big Let Down

Maybe it was remnants of Friday the 13th. Or some weird full moon. Or some bad karma. But my husband and I had two separate and miserable restaurant experiences within 24 hours of each other at two different, favorite, and reliable restaurants in Tacoma. We've been long time customers of both establishments and always put in a good word or a plug for each. Now they've let us down. Here's the scoop.

Restaurant number one (The Hub): my husband took my son out for dinner. The restaurant was busy, but not overwhelmingly so. To start, the server accidentally spilled an entire beer all over my son. My son was a good sport, accidents happen, and my husband's beer was on the house. Okay? Nope. The service was turtle slow after that, inattentive, and they got the wrong order to boot. Folks that sat down well over 30 minutes AFTER they arrived were eating their food. My husband had had it with the wait. He advised the manager, they took a little off the bill, but still my husband was upset. He is very good at delivering feedback, so it wasn't as if he was a jerk or anything.

Restaurant number two (Primo Grill): I took my mom out to a performance at the Pantages and we decided to dine prior. This restaurant was bustling actually, but it seemed like their were quite a number of staff members. Our server really struggled (as she seemed to be doing bartending duties as well). She didn't seem to know the menu very well nor did she really know how to mix my mom's drink (she actually asked US what it was and how to do it--we thought it was a fairly common drink). Then the food took forever (others were getting served that came in quite later than us). Our poor server seemed to be walking around in circles aimlessly (we tried to have empathy but were getting frustrated because we had a show to catch and parking to contend with). When we got our order, part of mine was inedible (like eating a tablespoon of kosher salt) and my mom got the totally wrong order. Other folks at nearby tables were having similar experiences (one had worse food luck than us--ice cold, inedible pork that was so dry you could hear it crack off the bone). My mom and I recognized one of the owners (who very warmly welcomed us at arrival). Mom decided to go share her concerns (as our server was no where to be found). I overheard my mom and she was very nice, yet gave constructive feedback. The owner scowled, didn't say a word, rung up our check, and slammed it on the table and walked away. We were SHOCKED (as were the other patrons, who too were having problems). No offer to discount the meal, no offer to make things right.

So, what gives?

The restaurant business is a tough business indeed. It always has been. Compounded by a bad economy, it's worse. But COME ON. These restaurants let my family and I down. I am sorry if it's a bad night, if there are employee issues, or whatever, but folks, you've got to step up. Tacoma has a wonderful culinary/restaurant scene, which I hate to see sullied by this terrible service.

Readers, bloggers: tell me, what would you do? How would you move forward? Share your bad restaurant experiences HERE.

Sharpen your poison pencils and let 'er rip!

P.S. Thanks to the last two comments--they made some excellent points and gave me the
guts to name the offenders. Hub, Primo, you guys are off your game. Kim


Stephanie Frieze said...

I would think that in a down economy when Smucker's stock is up because more people are eating at home that restaurants would be tripping over themselves to make sure that customers were happy. In situation where the service is poor you have every right to complain and leave a paultry tip. I realize that serving is a difficult job and the servers aren't responsible for how quickly or well the food is prepared, but there's blessed little else a cutomer can do. One time (in another town and state) the service was so miserable that I left a dime just to make a point. The restaurant in question didn't last long and neither will the two you wrote about because people are going to be careful how they spend their disposible income--what little of it there is.

Kim Thompson said...

Exactly Stephanie.

I was a server in my past life so I always tip generously when I dine out.

However, my experience was so bad and so rude that this is the first time in my life that NO tip was left. Yes!

Anonymous said...

I certainly sympathize with your bad experiences. However, I believe that there is no point writing such a review, particularly in a blog, unless you are willing to name the restaurants. A non-specific review like this will have no impact whatsoever on a situation that obviously needs improvement. If restaurant owners knew that their bad service would be blogged about, they'd make an effort to improve. But without the details, diners' complaints simply represent whining and venting. The complainants may feel better, but nothing of substance has been achieved.

LuckyCharm said...

During the presidential campaign, I organized a number of "watch parties," and was always on the lookout for a location spacious enough to accommodate a crowd. One debate watch party was held at Spud's pizza parlor on Pacific. The crowd overflowed the upper seating area where the TV was located, and most everybody bought food. But, anticipating our group's political leanings, the main waitress greeted us wearing a hand-lettered t-shirt with the opposing candidate's name scrawled on it. I didn't let it ruin the evening, and actually tried to book the same place for the next party, as we had found it spacious, convenient, and the food was decent. However, the next time they said they could only spare their dark, stuffy little game room! Needless to say, I have never been back for any reason.

I'd love to know the names of the restaurants in the original blog. Or are you worried about some kind of legal problem in naming them?

Kim Thompson said...

Anon and Lucky Charm:

Okay, here's the deal. I totally get your feedback, but I guess I feel badly naming them because I have been a fan of one for many years and the other since it opened. It hurts my heart, but you know what, you guys are right. What is the value of the post.

Situation #1 was The Hub. Situation #2 was Primo Grill. We are willing to try The Hub once more. Primo, no way.

LuckyCharm said...

I've never been to the Primo Grill, myself, but occasionally go to the Hub. When I go, it's as part of a group that meets a couple times a month to talk politics. Sometimes the servers are less than attentive, but I don't seem to notice it a whole lot since I'm usually engaged in lively conversation anyway. I'm sure that your husband's chat with the manager was valuable to him/her in identifying staff that might need a little help in providing the efficient, friendly, and accurate service I'm sure they strive to provide.

Thanks for your blog! I keep telling myself I've got to get back here sometime and blog more often as well.

Anonymous said...

I have had a similar expierence at Anthony's at Point Defiance. My mother, daughter and I dined on a Sunday evening . To start with when the waitress first approached us and asked us if we wanted anything to drink, my mother ordered a 7up and my daughter and I both ordered large ice waters. Well after 5 minutes waiting the server plunked down the 7up in front of my mother and walked away. No ice water in sight. We waited another 5 minutes then I decided to go to the bar and get the water myself,(which I did). The menu was confusing did not say what came with each meal. I ordered the Cod and Chips, my daughter the Grilled Salmon, and my mother the Top Sirlon. The cod was sooo bland no flavor at all and cold, the Grilled Salmon was okay but the only other thing on her plate was some winter squash, my mother her Top Sirlon came with FRENCH FRIES no choices at all. When my daughter and mother asked for a baked potato they were told that they do not do baked potatoes. Also my daughter asked about vegtable choices and were told there were no other choices except coleslaw. The whole meal was a miserable failure from top to bottom. I cannot understand how a resturant can serve low grade swill like this and be packed nightly? We all made up our mind we would NEVER eat there again. Also when we were finished we were never asked if we wanted desert. I guess having worked in the resturant business for many years (both my daughter and myself) maybe our standards are higher. Being as it was a Sunday evening I so had wished that Pacific Grill had been open. Needless to say our expierence was very disappointing. Pegsterdtown

Kim Thompson said...

Thanks you guys for sharing your experiences. Anthonys can be hit and miss in my view--that last experience sounded HORRIBLE.

Pacific Grill? No complaints there. Food and service is just great. Same for Asado. Masa is hit and miss.

Anonymous said...

We had lunch at East & West Cafe Proctor and it was great, great food and service.

Kim Thompson said...

You know, I have never been in there and meaning to try it. Now I am inspired!

Anonymous said...

I was very surprised by the write up on the hub but this isn't the first complaint I've heard, it's officially the second. I know the owner and he tries to ensure that both of his establishments are providing great service and food. So you might actually want to drop him a line as I don't think he really has time with all that he does to read your blog. It was just a fluke I read it, so I'll be sure to post the blog link to him in an email.

Kim Thompson said...

Good advice. I shall follow up. Also, thanks for dropping by, even on a fluke! Please come visit again!

Lorraine Hart said...

Count me as another who won't go to Anthony's, after an experience with their staff in Gig Harbor.