Stoned and cookless

In the February issue, Editor Mike Sanson discussed an outrageous restaurant experience where the one and only server on duty was stoned and clueless and the sole cook quit. It was a disaster that led to all customers leaving unhappy. What follows are excerpts from readers who weighed in.  

I believe in this case the owner is probably disconnected from his business or just doesn’t care. Otherwise there would have been a plan in place for what Stoney should do next. Being a small 35-seat restaurant I find it probably not uncommon to have only one cook on duty, but there needs to be some type of back-up plan in place. In my establishment everyone is cross-trained to run different stations, even my dishwashers can work the pantry. As the GM, I can hop behind the line if needed and even my head chef can navigate the POS enough to help out the servers if there is a problem. In the case you wrote about, I would have probably comped the bottle of wine, but charged for the appetizers, but I also would have given you a gift certificate to come in and give us another try.

Eric N. Cottongim
General Manager
Pit Stop BBQ & Grill
Brownsburg, IN

If I were Stoney I would not have given anyone a bill if the owner  and manager don’t care enough to be there.

Kris Kane
General Manager
Pat’s Pizza
Havre De Grace, MD

I run a small family owned “truck stop” café and have only 13 employees. I do have a night supervisor and I always leave someone in charge. My group of employees are trained to step in where needed and I am only a phone call away. Stoney should have apologized and taken care of the bill. I’m afraid bad service happens a lot.

Lisa Blunt
Safe Café
Caldwell, ID

I understand your being annoyed with the lack of service, having to stop the waiter when he was walking by your table to get his attention. But to assume he was stoned or jump to the conclusion that he didn’t know what he was doing because of his appearance was arrogant and wrong.

Who knows what was really happening? Maybe he wasn’t normally a waiter but had to take over the shift because the owner died in a car accident and his entire family went to the funeral, forgetting through the tragedy that they still had a restaurant to run and customers to make happy.  

You mention that there was no manager on site. I guess you have never been to a small neighborhood spot other than food chains or you would understand that oftentimes owners are on such a slim margin that to hire a manager on their only night off would cost them more then they could afford. You admit to liking the wine, admit to liking the appetizer and soup, even admit that your daughter was enjoying the entire fiasco, and here you still have the balls to think you should have got it for nothing.

Paul Lazzareschi
Vasco restaurant
Mill Valley, CA

Editor’s Note: I wrote that I paid for my meal “without argument.” I simply asked you, the reader, if you would have given me a bill. A clear majority of you wrote that you would not. Read on.  

First of all, who in their right mind would allow such irresponsible individuals to operate their restaurant? Good restaurant owners have a good manager on duty during busy times or they handle it themselves. Second, they should have never given you a bill if they did not have a cook on duty.

As a GM I make it a point to know the menus and am willing to jump behind the line to take over. One should always have a plan in place with a list of numbers of contacts in case of an emergency. Always have a back-up plan for everything.

Christine Penrose
General Manager
Riveredge Resort
Alexandria Bay, NY

Apparently the owner/manager does not care about the business.

No, I would not have given you a bill. As a matter of fact, if my manager didn’t care enough to make sure things were running smoothly, I would have probably given you the second bottle of wine and dessert.

Brenda Conner
Food and Beverage Admin
Wheeling Island Hotel Casino and Racetrack
Wheeling, WV

It’s unfortunate in this bad economy that a manager or owner was  not available to salvage the day. Stoney should have had you leave a critical note for whoever is in charge so they could comp what you had. I have even gone back to cook when it was needed. You have to work your business!

Rickie Ramsperger
Wanfu Chinese Restaurant
Lake Oswego, OR

The underlying problem? No management. I certainly would not have let a server of mine give you a bill, or if I did, you wouldn’t have seen the server not give a bill to the other table. I preach consistency at my establishment, and Stoney broke that code.

Talbot Reiber
W. Rick’s Taproom & Grill
Butler, PA

Not only would you not have gotten a bill, I would have called a nearby restaurant and given them my credit card number for you to have lunch on me. How restaurants survive with such a lack of customer consciousness is beyond me.

Mike Parla
Creative Food & Drink
New Brunswick, NJ

You should have definitely not received a bill. It just goes to show you the work ethic that a majority of workers have today.

Leslie Perez
Mama Rae’s Diner
Morton, IL

For Stoney and the cook who quit, good luck to them. Any business owner who leaves their business in the hands of another deserves the outcome. Now I have to say I would have taken the free wine from Stoney and had a really good laugh, but that is just me.

Jason E Clark
Executive Chef / Owner
BIN112 on Trade Street
The Strip Club 104 a steak house
Greer, SC

I would not have presented you with a bill but I love that the dishwasher came in to do what he could to help. Employees like that are not always easy to find.

Steve Jones
The Lucerne Inn
Dedham, Maine

My husband and I have owned seven restaurants over a span of 30 years. Both of us were able to step into any position required. I remember always being on call, even on days off. One time I had to close the dining room for service because I was the server and my cook, dishwasher and delivery driver decided to be real stoners that night. So I fired them and took over the cooking for the remainder of the night, leaving me with take-out as my only option for food service that evening.

Hey, in this business if it can happen it will. Stoney, in your situation, most definitely was above the clouds because any competent server in that situation would have never dreamed of charging the customer for such a fiasco of events!

Wanda Radosti
Coquina Café
Ormond Beach, FL