Something No Hostess Should Ever Say

We went on vacation a couple of weeks back.  We went to what had previously been a favorite destination of my wife and in-laws.  However, some of the things that happen were so astounding that I think they may have dropped that title.  I know that ‘The Village Cafe & Pub’ in Pentwater, MI will not be on my favorites list any time soon.

Below are some excerpts from a complaint letter that I filed after we got home (haven’t heard anything back, but I really don’t expect to since, as it turns out, they are Michigan State Spartan supporters, which means I probably used some too big of words….like ‘restaurant’….(just kidding):

Dear Owners of Village Cafe & Pub of Pentwater,

[At the recommendation of my in-laws, we all dined at your restaurant], a place that had been very accommodating to them in the past and had provided many good times.

I can only trust my in-laws that their experiences had been great in the past, but being my first time, I was not impressed in the least.

We parked next to the patio and walked past it on the way in.  Being a weekday night, things weren’t busy.  The hostess greeted us by saying “Can you wait five minutes?  I’m not sure if I can seat you.  Our servers might be too busy.”

I have dined at many restaurants in my lifetime, and have never, ever heard anything like this before.  I understand that you may have staffed lightly expecting fewer diners, but to be greeted with that is completely mind-boggling.  I know that this isn’t an isolated experience, as my sister-in-law had gone there the night before (with her boyfriend), and she had been told the same thing!

If you are getting more customers than you anticipate, you can word this politely to the customers (e.g. ‘We will be happy to seat you, but just so you know, our servers have more tables than usual, so we apololgize in advance if there are any delays, but hopefully you can enjoy the great view!’) or perhaps re-work the numbers on the number of customers you expect when determining how much help to have working.

[Later that week, on Friday], my wife, mother-in-law, and sister-in-law were in Pentwater and noticed that each of the outside tables had a rose or some sort of flower on it, where our table had nothing of the sort.

All told, it appeared to us that since we were customers on a less busy night, we were not treated as well as customers that dine on your busier weekend times.  I understand that the weekday customers might not be the moneymakers that keep you in business, but we are still customers that pay the same prices for the same menu items, and it is not unreasonable to expect the same service and positive dining experience as anybody else.  I worked in retail for a number of years, in an area where 95% of the years profits were made between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Even so, all of the customers that came through the doors for the rest of the year were entitled to and treated with the same level of respect and appreciation.  Based on what I saw last week, I think you might need to re-think your approach in making sure that *all* customers are given the full experience that you have to offer, regardless of what day or what time they come through the door.

Thank you.

So, dear readers, have you ever walked into a practically empty restaurant to be told that you might not be able to be served?  This story is so awful it is funny, so I had to share it.

What are some of your favorite restaurant ‘horror’ stories?

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

14 thoughts on “Something No Hostess Should Ever Say

  1. There was one time, in college, that my friends and I recieved such horrible service that we left the tip in change (admittedly, not the nicest thing to do but she was absolutely atrocious to us simply because of our age). The waitress then proceeded to follow us out the door, screaming obscenities at us. It was the only time I have literally been chased out the door of a restaurant or had staff curse at me.

    That's the most memorable but I have so many, I lost count.

  2. The service from the waitress was good so we had no complaints there. It was just the first impression of how this was handled when we got there that set the tone, not in a good way.

  3. That's a bit ironic as it seems it should be the other way around. Great first impression and if anything, bad service. I hope they respond (and we get to read about it).

  4. Having worked restaurant industry in the past i find these small things more annoying all the time. Management probably thinks their saving money by understaffing. But it only hurts the service side of the business in the long run. Time for a new manager.

  5. I've heard of this before, and it was even more baffling then. Many years ago, someone I know complained about how he went to a restaurant that looked only half full/half empty yet wasn't seated right away.

    But it gets better: they told him it was a 1 hour wait! Even better, they told him that he could wait in the bar if he wanted to.

    • You obviously have no idea how this business works. Often times when this happens, there are no servers for the open tables. And don’t blame the managers for understaffing– they can only estimate how many people will show up in a day, and if they bring in too many servers and not enough people show up, the resturaunt looses money. I’ve worked on Sunday mornings (which are really slow) where we only have five servers with four tables, and a whole crowd of people showed up. It’s hard when they all get sat at the tables that are not assigned to us, because we have to “pick them up” and that just means more tables for us to juggle. You should try serving seven tables at once. It’s not easy. That was probably the reason for the hour long wait.

  6. I do remember being told to wait when the restaurant was nearly empty. I think what you experienced was a poor choice of words. If i experienced that, the food would have to be good for m to return.

  7. A couple of you raise a good point, in that it has happened to me in the past where I've had to wait when there are seemingly open tables. In every other case, though, it was politely explained that 'the section was closed on such and such day' or something along those lines. It was always politely explained and we were always given an apology. Neither of those things happened which was the biggest difference and why it was such a turn-off.

  8. I've been to several hotel restaurants in formerly communist countries, where the servers actively ignored the customers.
    My pet peeve in lightly populated restaurants is getting seated *right next* to the only other one or two occupied tables in the place. We usually balk and point to another table further away.

  9. First world problems. Seriously, do you have nothing better to complain about? Oh no! You didn’t get sat right away and your table didn’t have a flower on it?! Completely absurd. You never know what’s happening with the servers or the kitchen staff. Give them a break. And chill out. Be patient and a little more understanding.

    • So you just accept whatever service people give you and never complain about it? Sorry, if I’m going to a restaurant and I see a ton of tables empty and they tell me we have to wait (and not in a manner that actually could have made sense), yes, it’s going to bother me. Had they worded it differently, something along the lines of “I apologize for the wait, but we only have a couple of servers (or cooks) today, so even though we have a lot of tables open, it might be a while. That way, we can make sure everybody gets a fantastic meal.” That would have done several things: They would have acknowledged the fact that there were a ton of open tables, they would have apologized up front for the wait, and they would have affirmed that their dedication was to ensuring that every customer had a good meal. The way it was presented, they basically were like “Oh, well” which isn’t a great message to deliver. And, what about the fact that the restaurant never even responded to my follow-up? Right there it shows that they really don’t care. Yes, you can throw the ‘first world problems’ bit out, but that doesn’t excuse poor service. If you’re fine with that, then good for you. I personally am not.

Comments are closed.