You know how sometimes people say something was “laughably bad”? As in, it was so bad you pretty much had to laugh…to keep from crying.
My experience at the Grand Lux Cafe last night was laughably bad.
I should preface my critique by saying that most of yesterday was laughably bad. Except I wasn’t laughing. In fact, I spent most of yesterday convincing myself that my evening at GLC would make the rest of the day, if not worthwhile, then at least a gentle memory.
Then I actually arrived.
Two members of my party had actually arrived half an hour prior (not everyone has to take a half-hour-delayed train to get home), but when they asked the hostess if they should put their name in, she assured them there were “plenty of tables” and getting seated “wouldn’t be a problem.”
I like to call this Mistake #1: Lying to your customers.
We then proceeded to wait almost two hours for a table. Two. Hours. We were a group of eight women, all of whom had arrived with the intention of eating and drinking. It was 8 p.m. on a Monday night. We waited two hours. Mistake #2.
Around the hour-and-a-half mark, we asked to see a manager. It was at this point that Damien entered our lives. (I think it’s relevant to note that when I typed “Damien,” my predictive text thought I meant “dampen.” Because really, that is an extremely accurate description of what he did to our moods.)
What manager Damien didn’t do? Manage. Anything. No, Damien’s idea of customer service was limply shrugging his shoulders, not making eye contact, and repeating that there was nothing he could do.
Au contraire, mon petit Damien! There is actually so much you can do, some might describe it as laughable! You could push some tables together. You could buy us a round at the bar while we wait. You could give an apology for making us wait this long. (Mistake #3: Shirking responsibility.)
You know the ONE thing that is NOT going to make up for everything? Giving us four salads (to be split between the aforementioned EIGHT people) and a lazy waitress.
Here’s the thing. I went in to the situation determined not to take it out on the waitress. I’ve worked in food service, and some of my best friends have been/are waitresses. It’s a difficult job, and I don’t want to make it more difficult. (Plus, I have a hard and fast rule that you don’t mess with the people who touch your food when you’re not in the room.)
But the thing is, Bernadette was a bad waitress. She knew we had been waiting two hours and had already (repeatedly) expressed our dissatisfaction to “management.” And YET, she STILL left us for half an hour before even taking our drink order. Not, “was bustling around helping other tables.” Disappeared. (Mistake #4, if you’re keeping track.)
For those of you playing at home, this means we were coming up on 10:00 p.m. without a single substantial thing to eat despite arriving at 7:30. Everyone caught up? Moving on.
At this point, what I like to call “Commuter Justine” showed up to the party in full force. Commuter Justine, as you might guess, is who I become whilst commuting in Manhattan. She is not friendly, she has no patience, and sometimes she just wants a gin & tonic and a plate of lettuce wraps without giving up three hours of her life.
So I found our buddy Damien, kindly (I swear) explained that we had not seen Bernadette for about 30 minutes, and asked if he could help. Not only did he give me a sour look (Really, Damien? You’re going to give me sass?), but then he walked into the dining room with me, spotted Bernie (as I like to call her) across the room, and said, “There she is!” As if my only problem was that I was just so concerned that something might have happened to her, and all I wanted was to know that she was all right.
At this point, I swallowed the bubble of rage boiling in my throat and said as sweetly as I could manage, “Yes, but not at our table.”
Again, this was not me being an ugly restaurant patron. The place was not busy. (It had conveniently cleared out after we were seated.) Bernadon’t was neglecting us.
Then, as if I needed a piece de resistance, Do-Nothing-Damien rolled his eyes at me (Oh, I’M sorry, did I come into your restaurant with the intention of paying for polite service and a meal served at a reasonable time? How rude of me! MISTAKE NUMBER FIVE.) and went to tell Berns-a-lot that we were ready to order.
At this point, it gets a little depressing. We waited too long for sub-par food (TWO of the meals were cold. They were soups. We sent one back and then waited another twenty minutes for it to be returned. Really?! We all know you just nuked it for thirty seconds.), they didn’t refill our water glasses once, and we waited another half hour for the bill. (Too many mistakes to count.)
I have this friend James who does this thing when he is not being served in a way fitting someone who is a paying customer. He sort of makes a stabbing motion with his hand from his chest to about a foot in front of him, implying that the waitstaff is actually ripping his heart out. For some reason, this whole ordeal made me think of that.
I mean, I know I’m not from around here, but I always thought you had to actually provide something to be considered a “service.”
It wasn’t all bad; the company itself was delightful, and we managed to have a good time regardless. But you can bet your soggy free salad I won’t be patronizing the Grand Sux Cafe anytime soon. (Zing!)