31 January 2007

More restaurant hooey

This is something I'd been meaning to post about sooner, were it not for something about "best laid plans", rodents, male creatures, etc. ......

About a week and a half ago, Seraphim -- my wonderful, awesome and long-suffering bride -- and myself patronized Frank & Linda's Restaurant, a/k/a The Only Restaurant In Rincon, Georgia That Has Lasted More Than Six Months. As I've mentioned in this space before, F&L's of late has been a roller-coaster. Long gone are the wonderful battalion of servers they had along about 2004-2005. Sadly, most of the wait staff there now are from Generation-W. (Whatever.) Ill-educated, lacking a remote spark of initiative, and sitting with their thumbs up their asses without regard for customers who are waiting for what they need. Friday, January 19th, we ate supper at F&L's. For starters, our server kept us waiting for a long time for the requisite loaf of bread (which they're supposed to bring to your table somewhere between the time the server takes your order and when they bring you your salad and/or appetizer).

I ordered the "Fish Fry", with no lettuce on the side. Only, she spelled it "letice" I wonder if she's a graduate of Armstrong Atlantic State University? Or, dare I say, Troy University?

We waited for the bread. Waited. Waited. Patiently, even.

Then, through the magic of Talmadge Gleck Inhalation, my tea glass became empty (yes, I do drink iced tea sometimes, more often than you think; I'm not a complete Coke-head). It was never refilled.

I needed ketchup. Did we get ketchup? Hell, no, our illiterate server went behind the counter to do what looked like "accounting" work (God help that restaurant!).

You guessed it, I got up to DeAnn the ketchup. One of the other servers asked me what I needed, and I said my server (pointing over to her) was supposed to get me ketchup and some extra napkins.

Her response: "Well, she's really busy. I'll get it for you."

Now, if you're on the wait staff of a restaurant, and you're diverted onto another task, what would you do?
A) Ask another server to pinch-hit for you (knowing that the tables will always be turned eventually).
B) Start your task, those stupid fat people in the corner can wait for their @#$%ing ketchup and @#$damned napkins.
C) Start playing "the game" and unwittingly expose your genitals to the entire dining room.

Miz Remeedyul Spelllenng chose "B." So she barely got a tip at all, less than 10%. Serves her right.


The next day, we were "in town" to run some errands, and we ate supper at a true Savannah dining institution, Carey Hilliard's. It's a local chain of 'barbecue/seafood' restaurants -- there are about six in all, plus two wayward locations in Charleston, S.C. Carey Hilliard's is highly renowned for their sweet tea, "hot wings" and barbecue. Personally I find the 'cue a bit on the middling side, but that's just my own taste (I'm very partial to the South Carolina, Memphis and north Alabama schools of 'cue). The only real drawback to CH is that sometimes the food is a bit, well, greasy. But I love their hushpuppies. Love 'em, I do. Ditto for their fried scallops. Yeah, boy. Good stuff. Good, GOOD stuff.

And, with the exception of their newest location (Pooler, at I-95, which opened a couple of years ago), all of their stores have classic style neon signage, complete with chase-sequence arrow, and a neon sequence lighting up C-A-R-E-Y. Did I say "Yeah, boy"?

Our experience at Frank & Linda's was a marked contrast with the treatment we've received at the Pooler Carey Hilliard's (where we usually go when we're in a CH mood -- this in spite of their having only a simple backlit sign out front). Our server remembered us. And she treated us very nicely. Meaning, she got a good (a little more than 20%) tip.

In fact, I don't think I've ever had a bad experience at Carey Hilliard's. Maybe an indifferent server a time or two -- maybe! Over the 6-1/2 years we've lived in this area, we've eaten at all except the original (Skidaway Road) CH location. All are well run.

These contrasting examples lead me to conclude one thing about restaurants and the wait staff which which work for 'em: it's all about MANAGEMENT. It takes a lot to be a restaurant manager ... unfortunately so many prefer to instead emulate "Dan" in Waiting. Carey Hilliard's, obviously, DOESN'T. I get the feeling they crack the whip on anyone who'd dare slough off or leave diners twisting in the wind.

Sadly, it appears that Frank & Linda's is on the verge of getting complacent on us.

Mention this to them, and they'd probably light into us about how hard it is to find good, dependable people.

Well, cry me a river. Woe is me. Boo to the hoo. Why, then, is it that a vast majority of the wait staff at Carey Hilliard's are people who look like they've been there for many, MANY years???
We're talking 50-something ladies who call you "darlin'" between every other sentence here. Truly good people. CH doesn't seem to have any problems finding -- and, it appears, RETAINING (!!!!!!) -- their wait staffers.

I've never asked as much, but I get the feeling Carey Hilliard's employees are paid a little better, while small-time restaurants love coasting on the wrinkle in the minimum wage act that allows them to pay servers as little as $2.00-and-change per hour.

Simple rule: you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Come Celebrate the Great Taste" Gleck


nettiemac said...

Man, I hate that F&L's service is getting bad. The food was pretty good the few times I've been there. And I remember the first trip down, it was pretty good service. Even the last time wasn't so bad, when it was y'all, me & Bolivar -- except that the server left halfway through the time we were there and we got someone else.

And now I'm jonesing for some CH. It's just not fair. (But I'd love Maurice's even more).

Alright, that's it. Some Saturday, you & me and Sera are going to meet in Cola-town and chow down on some Mo's for lunch. Name the day.

Talmadge G. said...

You're on. How about next Saturday, February 10?

What's your schedule look like then?

--Talmadge "Another Nine Days of Jonesin'" Gleck

nettiemac said...

Pretty good, right now! :)