Monday, January 3, 2011

Pennywise but POUND FOOLISH!

We had a wonderful Christmas filled with great times with both sides of the family. For that, we are thankful. For the 12 hour ride to NC and back, we're just thankful we made it. Sometimes I wish we could just push Georgia and South Carolina out of the way and be home. Whew. We're thankful to be home, sleeping in our queen sized bed instead of 2 twins! Ha!
During our brief trip to NC, we planned several visits and lunches and dinners with family. We had a great lunch with my mother's brother, and we looked forward to a huge visit with 22 of us on my father's side the following day. In fact, we had planned the lunch and made reservations for the 22 of us before Christmas to make sure it would all happen. My aunt and her children and their spouses and children all traveled 2 hours to be with us. While they were making their trek to Raleigh, we received an email that our lunch destination had to close due to an emergency situation: the main water main had broken and was being repaired. They had no water service and had told all of the servers and cooks to stay home. We quickly formulated a plan to eat somewhere else.
We've always loved Midtown Bar and 115. They said they could accommodate all 22 of us in their back room. Perfect. I called back to see if they have a Children's Menu. The person who answered the phone said that they do not but that the children could order a burger. I went online to discover that the burgers are gourmet $10 burgers that my children won't eat. They like little think burgers, not big adult burgers. So, I asked DH to run by Chick Fil A where I bought chicken nuggets with the intention of buying sides like chips or french fries or fruit at the restaurant. I was not trying to cheat the restaurant; they had 15 paying adults plus the sides for the children. It was our family Christmas lunch; revenue was guaranteed!
The server immediately told me I would have to hide the bag and use plates. I told her that would be fine. I figured they'd have plates for the side dishes anyway. We had two long tables of 11. Apparently an assistant manager came to my father and told him that the restaurant was going to charge $5 PER PLATE for the children to eat the nuggets in their restaurant. My father quietly explained that he was not going to pay $30-35 for children to have a plate and that we would have to leave if the manager chose to force the issue. Believe it or not, the manager would not waive the plate fee. The manager allowed TWENTY TWO PEOPLE to walk out of an empty restaurant at 12:30pm on the Wednesday after Christmas. There were maybe 2 or 3 other small tables. They had set up our tables with water and linens and they LET US LEAVE. IN fact, they basically ASKED us to leave!!!! All over $30!!!!! So, Midtown Bar and 115 lost a huge lunch tab on a day the restaurant was DEAD over $30. And that, my friends, is pennywise and pound foolish! As you can imagine, this dear struggling restaurant will never see Mama Henley's face again. There are too many good places to eat that are more than willing to accommodate their diners. Good luck, Midtown!

12 comments:

Kyndall said...

Absolutely absurd! The same thing happened to us when they put us in the basement of a restaurant in Atlanta and then tried charge us a $10 or $15 "splitting fee" since my brother and I (ages 10 and 12) wanted to split a large steak! My parents and their friends were already going to spend at least a few hundred dollars. Whatever happened to southern hospitality or the customer is always right?

Southern Living: Preppy Style said...

Oh my gosh, I'm shocked! Unbelievable!

Travelbugmom said...

OH MY! So sorry this happened. I do hope you found SOMEWHERE to go together.

We celebrated my oldest's high school graduation with 20 people at a Japanese restaurant in our little town since they added Hibachi tables and it was perfect.
We were asked "white or fried rice?" as our orders were taken. When we received the bill, we realized there was an UPCHARGE of $5 per order for FRIED rice which most people ordered resulting in over $70 more. WE WERE LIVID and the owner would not budge. We have never been back!

Margaret said...

I am surprised that you think its appropriate to bring in outside food to a restaurant. I think they did absolutely the right thing by asking you to leave. I have three children and I am very familiar with taking them to restaurants where they don't like the food. When you know that is going to be the case you can feed them a light meal before you go and then order them sides to snack on or a dessert to keep them occupied while you are eating. I bet you will look back at that lunch and the thing that will stand out is the fuss you made not the time spent together.

Henley on the Horn said...

Margaret, you have an interesting opinion. Had they offered a children's menu, I would not have dreamed of bringing in food. However, they did not have choices for children. I was going to order sides to go with the chicken but they never gave us the chance. We did not make a fuss at all, we simply told them that we would have to leave if they were going to force the issue. It was their loss, not ours. We were able to go to Cinelli's where we ordered delicious pizza and took it back to my parents' house. Since I was visiting from out of town, I did not have the luxury of feeding them in advance, etc! We actually have already looked back at this time as a wonderful blessing! We had a better time with the way it ended. We were just shocked that a restaurant would forego guaranteed revenue when they were not busy at all. I would love to visit your blog if you have one!

Donna said...

I think resturants should be about customer service, flexibility and accomodation as well as making money. That situation ended badly in "word-of-mouth" publicity too, which can actually be very harmful to an establishment. If they had done as you wished, the kids could have eaten and been happy, the restaurant could have made money as you stated AND they could have earned a reputation for flexibility (& not taking advantage of customers by charging for service not rendered!) which means the most. If you go to a place and ask that something be cooked a certain way to accomodate allergies...is that wrong? Or can the place accomodate and cook to order? THAT is what was asked since the request was made initially before entering the restaurant and denied. Flexibility would have made everyone happy.
I'm with you...their loss.

Town and Country Mom said...

So very sorry for this experience, and I bet the manager will be hearing from his supervisor once word gets out. He is definitely in the wrong line of work!

Alicia@ eco friendly homemaking said...

How ridiculous!You would think that with the economy the it has been the past several years that they would be thrilled to have that many people in their restaurant at one time.People's greed amazes sometimes.

Cherie said...

My apologies to you on behalf of the city of Raleigh! I am mortified that your family had to leave..I am very familiar with Midtown Bar and 115...in fact, we had my daughter's graduation dinner there....day in and day out, we read in the News and Observer about how desperate downtown restaurants are for business in this down economy...this clearly was just a foolish decision! Having been in the restaurant business, this can be an awkward situation but a better solution would have been to offer this as a one time solution...small plates for the children, a smile for the parents and a push for chocolate desserts for the children...I am sure they could have made up the difference between the astronomical drink prices and dessert split between your precious children.

bevy said...

My goodness... If they had been just a little more flexible...

Leigh Powell Hines said...

I cannot believe that. That is horrible. By the way, I'm Morgan's Sister-in-law, and she just told me about your blog. I just started my own so am trying to learn the ropes.

Anonymous said...

that sounds like a good ol' case of pride cometh before a fall! Wow! Ouch!
Wendy