October 24, 2005

The Long Wait at Applebee's

Last Saturday I met Jim in Brick NJ, we decided to get a bite to eat at the nearby Applebee's.

We go in, get seated, and look over the menus. We compare what we're considering, then decide on our meals. Then we talk for a few minutes.

Then I realize that I hadn't decided on a drink, so I tried to find the beer listing on the menu (there isn't one). I was able to make out most of the tap handles at the bar, so we were both able to select our brew of choice.

Conversation began concerning a remark Jim had made earlier about writing. We talked for several minutes easily.

It was towards the end of this conversation that several memebers of the wait staff walked by. Each time I was ready to give my drink order (I was getting a bit thirsty from all the talking), but they would just walk by and serve another table. At this point the subject turned to the expectionally long wait and just how long it had been. We figured it was something like 15 minutes.

A manager walked down the row. He said something to the table behind me, then walked past our table (glancing at it for the briefest second) before hurrying to another table at the far end that already had their food.

We now began discussing where else we could go to eat. We weren't being quiet about this, it was a very frank and open discussion that I'm sure a few tables overheard. We took time to consider if we should bother to wait any longer, what the possible delay could be (smoke break? lunch break? someone not realizing they have a table?), also how long it had been since either of us had walked out of a restaurant. At least one or two more waiters/waitresses passed without any comment whatsoever.

We left. On the way out, the door guy offered his cheerful farewell. I couldn't resist any longer, over my shoulder I said "Now we're going to find a place where we can get a bite to eat!" The only reply, a startled "Huh?"


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having worked for the Establishment, I wonder if the area you were sitting in was covered or if they were in a shift change. What time did you go to eat?

At the one I worked at, the next shift started at 5pm. A staff meeting was generally held at 4-4:30. If that was about to occur, the host/hostess should have seated you in a covered area.

To play the Devil's advocate, my advice would have been to flag down one of the Waitstaff and asked if anyone was waiting on the table. "we've been here for 15 minutes and our order hasn't been taken."

Also, I would have gone up to the host and asked to see the manager. "we've been waiting for 15 -20 minutes, and no one has come to take our order."

Chances are, they would have bent over backwards to make you happy. Possibly even gotten a free meal out of it or discounted.

Just out of curiousity...you guys didn't have anything "odd" on the table did you? We're the menus still open? Did you make eye contact with anyone or did you ignore them?

Most of the wait folks I knew, had no problem stepping up and politely interrupting the conversation.

Also, I was a hostess and new the floor plan and the shift changes. When I seated, I'd also tell you who your server was and if they were out on break, I'd the customer know that their server would be with them shortly and then go find the server to let them know they'd been seated.

The Applebee's I worked at was a cool place. Great people. So YMMV.


1:58 PM  
Blogger BRIAN MC said...

The truth hurts...I may of passed up serving you guys as well!!!! Ha, Ha!

8:32 PM  
Blogger Rothar said...

Nope, we went in around lunch time...I'd say around 1:15 or 1:30.

I always close my menu when I've made up my mind. In this case it was reopened briefly to look for drinks, then closed again. Jim's was closed as well.

We did make eye contact as much as possible. There was definitely nothing weird on the table. Oh and thanks for your comment, Bri!

It seems like whenever something like this happens, a better idea comes up after the fact. This is another one of those times, we definitely should have flagged someone down or said something. Free meal sounds sooo good...why oh why didn't I think about it then?

3:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Feel the love! ;)


11:06 AM  
Blogger JimInNJ said...

The way I see it, it’s the manager’s job to notice that his staff is oblivious and to do something about it. If the manager is oblivious, then the establishment should not be surprised if I take my business elsewhere. I was looking for a good meal with decent service, not a free meal. I found it across the street.

Actually, having also worked in food service, I normally would have discretely flagged someone down, but just this once it felt good to simply get up and walk out. I think that’s what’s news worthy about this story; that we walked out, not that Applebee’s was slow.

It really was surreal to be sitting there discussing where we wanted to go for lunch and what we wanted to eat. When we got across the street we were seated and our order taken within five minutes. The food, drink and service were all perfect. We were probably just lucky, but it did make an interesting story.

6:22 PM  

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