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What's Your Threshold To Bail?


KMango
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I'm interested in different opinions on these two questions:

1. When you walk into a new-to-you restaurant, what events would trigger you to walk right back out?

2. Assuming you already ordered or were otherwise stuck, how bad would it have to be before you would warn other patrons about coming
into the establishment?

Example: Tonight, and upon the advice of knowledgeable neighbors, we trekked into a recent addition of a nearby shopping center. As we opened the door, we noticed:

  • More than half-full capacity, a good sign.
  • Everyone whipped around and seemed to start talking about us, not a good sign.
  • The man behind the bar did not even look at us, and the one server seemed busy and flustered, bad sign.

Believing we could not be lead astray by the emphatic recommendations that brought us here, we sat ourselves and meandered towards a table in the back. No menus, no greeting, no anything, just more odd stares and whispers from the other patrons. We were not in a hurry. This was more of a casual venue and we did not mind, but we began to notice more odd signs.

  • The man behind the bar seemed to be arguing with two patrons about slow service. Another woman waiting for takeout said something about being there forever.
  • I went to go wash my hands, and noticed a large puddle of water coming out of the men's room. Threshold reached!
  • On my alarmed, rapid return to the table, my dining companion reported that another couple came in and sat at the bar. He overheard the staff say "it will be at least five minutes before I can get to you" in a gruff manner.
  • We then noticed a horrific fact---none of the patrons seemed to have any food. Threshold exceeded!

I quickly took an "emergency call" on my cell phone and we shot out of there like rockets. We finally pieced it all together. The place was in shambles, the patrons excessively unhappy to the point of helpless disbelief, and they were whispering to each other trying to figure out whether or not to warn us of the conditions.

What would you do? What's your threshold for bailing on a new place before you order, and at what point would you warn other potential patrons?

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I've bailed on Morimoto in Philly when my reservation wasn't honored within 15 minutes. I did let the hostess know about my displeasure and the restaurant called my hotel to comp my breakfast the following day. I've walked out when no one greets me in a reasonable amount of time, no one brings me a menu within a reasonable amount of time, a restaurant doesn't turn on its A/C when it's hot and humid, or a restaurant doesn't have anything on its menu that appeals to me (usually avoidable if they post a menu outside).

The only time I've bitched to others is the Morimoto episode. We were a table of 2, a later arriving table of 4 was seated immediately. I understand why the restaurant would do that but it really pissed me off - it tells me they care more about their bottom line than their customers. I've been to Morimoto's before but I've never been since. I also didn't use their comp certificate at my hotel.

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I started to form an answer in my mind centered on cleanliness...or lack thereof...before getting to the specifics of your experience. Once reading that part, three reactions:

1. Your threshold tonight was higher than mine would have been. I'd probably have exited at the puddle of water, still before realizing noone had food.

2. What you describe would be an awesome Seinfeld setup

3. Had to quickly check since I knew you were signed up for Society Fair; that it wasn't tonight. See you Saturday. Should be a bit better than your experience tonight. ;)

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3. Had to quickly check since I knew you were signed up for Society Fair; that it wasn't tonight. See you Saturday. Should be a bit better than your experience tonight. ;)

I can't comment on the rest of it (right now) - but I can guarantee that you will have an EXCELLENT experience on Saturday!

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I’m interested in different opinions on these two questions:

1. When you walk into a new-to-you restaurant, what events would trigger you to walk right back out?

2. Assuming you already ordered or were otherwise stuck, how bad would it have to be before you would warn other patrons about coming

into the establishment?

Example: Tonight, and upon the advice of knowledgeable neighbors, we trekked into a recent addition of a nearby shopping center. As we opened the door, we noticed:

  • More than half-full capacity, a good sign.
  • Everyone whipped around and seemed to start talking about us, not a good sign.
  • The man behind the bar did not even look at us, and the one server seemed busy and flustered, bad sign.

Believing we could not be lead astray by the emphatic recommendations that brought us here, we sat ourselves and meandered towards a table in the back. No menus, no greeting, no anything, just more odd stares and whispers from the other patrons. We were not in a hurry. This was more of a casual venue and we did not mind, but we began to notice more odd signs.

  • The man behind the bar seemed to be arguing with two patrons about slow service. Another woman waiting for takeout said something about being there forever.
  • I went to go wash my hands, and noticed a large puddle of water coming out of the men’s room. Threshold reached!
  • On my alarmed, rapid return to the table, my dining companion reported that another couple came in and sat at the bar. He said he overheard the staff say “it will be at least five minutes before I can get to you” in a gruff manner.
  • Then we noticed a horrific fact---none of the patrons seemed to have any food. Threshold exceeded!

I quickly took an “emergency call” on my cell phone and we shot out of there like rockets. We finally pieced it all together. The place was in shambles, the patrons excessively unhappy to the point of helpless disbelief, and they were whispering to each other trying to figure out whether or not to warn us of the conditions.

What would you do? What’s your threshold for bailing on a new place before you order, and at what point would you warn other potential patrons?

Mango, I can't answer the general questions (at 2:45 AM), but as for the specific? You're beyond reproach here, and I sense a strong desire - tinged with an advance sense of guilt - for going negative. You have nothing to worry about - just give a fair an honest assessment in the restaurant's thread.

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I started to form an answer in my mind centered on cleanliness...or lack thereof...before getting to the specifics of your experience. Once reading that part, three reactions:

1. Your threshold tonight was higher than mine would have been. I'd probably have exited at the puddle of water, still before realizing noone had food.

2. What you describe would be an awesome Seinfeld setup

3. Had to quickly check since I knew you were signed up for Society Fair; that it wasn't tonight. See you Saturday. Should be a bit better than your experience tonight. ;)

Regarding #1, yes, that hit my threshold, too. Once I noticed that water, we were bee-lining to bail, and kept noticing odd things as we zipped out.

Any place can have a bad night, especially if new. This was an incredulously egregious case.

A key manager failing to show up could have resulted in all the poor judgement. Close for the night if it's that bad! So I won't be posting in the restaurant's thread just yet, I am more interested in walkout stories from others. There are probably epic incidents from everyone's travels.

(can't wait)

(for saturday)

(by the way)

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This is my threshold.

This week I bailed on a lunch I paid for (counter service) but didn't get in a timely manner. That's bailing with chutzpah, no?

I had about a 30 minute window before a meeting and when the food wasn't in my hand 25 minutes after ordering and paying, I didn't have much choice but to leave. (note - it usually only takes 3 minutes for this transaction, even on a busy day) So on the way home from work at the end of the day I stopped in, showed my receipt and asked if I could take the meal then...and they were very gracious about the whole thing.

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When I first saw this thread, I couldn’t think of any time I ever bailed when I couldn’t get service. I must have at some point in my life, but I couldn’t think of anything. Then I went to the Nats’ exhibition game this week...

My husband wanted water and the vendor who came through our section shortly before the game was going to start didn’t have any, so I stopped to get him some on the way back from the restroom. I picked the place with the shortest line. It was called Dupont something (Deli?) and was next to a Hard Times. (Hey, a $4.50 bottle of water is the same everywhere.) I only had three ones so I had to break a $20. When the woman who took my order seemed not to want to take the money, I thought it might be the denomination, but then she took it.

The transaction was far from over. That woman was standing next to the cashier but was not the cashier and, therefore, was not supposed to handle money. In the meantime, the cashier had taken a beer order from a man well above 21 but had to see his ID. She couldn’t complete my transaction until she completed his, but the woman who took the money couldn’t hold the money. The cashier was having difficulty figuring out what to do with my money and time just kept going by with no progress on any front.

There was a full narration of policy from the manager, who stood there making sure everything went according to the rules. While I understand there are rules and they’re probably training new people because it’s the first game of the season (sort of), the national anthem was starting and, hey, a $4.50 bottle of water is the same everywhere. I handed them back the water and the cashier handed me back my money. I don’t know when or if the other customer got his beer. (My husband eventually got water from another vendor in the stands.)

I think the reason I finally gave up was that the operation was so poorly run that it seemed there could be endless catastrophes ahead if I forged on, and I only wanted something I could get at other places (FWIW, the two employees I dealt with were pleasant enough, but the manager never addressed me at all.)

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We bailed from the old Roma, quickly, because someone in our party was disturbed by the abundance of dead wildlife. "My boyfriend is feeling ill," was the excuse offered.

Down the block, entering a departed French restaurant (I don't remember the name) we turned around at the door because a patron who was leaving seemed to have just discovered that he was bleeding profusely, we assumed from a recent incision that had reopened. There was a trail of blood behind him. He was with his wife, and it looked like everything was eventually going to be OK, but it clouded our mood.

We fairly recently left a restaurant in Staunton after looking around at a crowded and lively dining room and noticing too much glop on the plates. However, if a server had contacted us within the five minutes we were at the table we most likely would have remained, for better or worse.

I probably have told the story of Geppetto's on P Street before. We left there after my wife sent back her veal dish because it wasn't what she had ordered, and then several minutes later the server returned with the same plate and plunked it in front of her, yelling that it was the only veal on the menu. It wasn't. The manager came over and you knew she just wanted to get rid of us. We got the drift, by which time the waitress was in tears, asking us to stay because she was having a bad day. It was too much to bear.

We should have walked out early on during our last visit to Blue Ridge. It would have put an end to an increasingly hostile experience and pre-empted an unfriendly email from the owner, which I answered in detail but never received a response.

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We bailed from the old Roma, quickly, because someone in our party was disturbed by the abundance of dead wildlife. "My boyfriend is feeling ill," was the excuse offered.

Down the block, entering a departed French restaurant (I don't remember the name) we turned around at the door because a patron who was leaving seemed to have just discovered that he was bleeding profusely, we assumed from a recent incision that had reopened. There was a trail of blood behind him. He was with his wife, and it looked like everything was eventually going to be OK, but it clouded our mood.

You're talking about Roma in Cleveland Park? The only French restaurant I can think of there is Lavandou, maybe Medium Rare as a stretch, but I can't remember any that have closed, and this is going to bother me until you think of what it was. And I have to ask, what exactly was the dead wildlife in Roma?

As long as we're on *this* line of thought, in 1989, I saw "The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover" at Shirlington. I was so sickened by this (otherwise fine) film that during dinner at what was then the Carlyle Grand Cafe (now Carlyle), I just sat there and stared. I didn't touch a bite of food.

By coincidence, I also saw "Sweeney Todd" there in 2007. I don't remember where, or if, I had dinner afterwards, but I can't imagine I was very hungry.

Man, these films were *nasty* - I'm renaming this area as The Killage at Gorlington.

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I bailed on Perry's rooftop one time because there were dozens of immense water bugs crawling up and down the chimney of the building next door (which abutted the retaining wall of the restaurant). It was like a nightmare scene from a grim movie.

I once had a table bail on me at La Famiglia Spagnola in Boston when a (much smaller) roach crawled out of the salad I'd served.

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You're talking about Roma in Cleveland Park? The only French restaurant I can think of there is Lavandou, maybe Medium Rare as a stretch, but I can't remember any that have closed, and this is going to bother me until you think of what it was. And I have to ask, what exactly was the dead wildlife in Roma?

Le Escargot? The place with the waiters on roller skates?

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Le Escargot? The place with the waiters on roller skates?

Yes! This is before my time - and, it's as good a moment as any to remember Gerard Pain. This is now Ardeo + Bardeo (and btw, I think Ashok owns the building). Pain bought the French bistro Pouget in 1971, and renamed it L'Escargot which he owned before opening La Chaumière in 1976. Now, if I could only figure out the history of Pouget.

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You're talking about Roma in Cleveland Park? The only French restaurant I can think of there is Lavandou, maybe Medium Rare as a stretch, but I can't remember any that have closed, and this is going to bother me until you think of what it was. And I have to ask, what exactly was the dead wildlife in Roma?

As long as we're on *this* line of thought, in 1989, I saw "The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover" at Shirlington. I was so sickened by this (otherwise fine) film that during dinner at what was then the Carlyle Grand Cafe (now Carlyle), I just sat there and stared. I didn't touch a bite of food.

By coincidence, I also saw "Sweeney Todd" there in 2007. I don't remember where, or if, I had dinner afterwards, but I can't imagine I was very hungry.

Man, these films were *nasty* - I'm renaming this area as The Killage at Gorlington.

A couple of doors down from the Roma was Club Soda. I first discovered this while standing in line in the late '70's to get into the Uptown to see Star Wars. With a lot of time to kill I couldn't help but look across the street. I remember an oldies band from New Jersey playing there called The Greaseband. One night, after watching Star Wars for the third or fourth time, I crossed the street and went to Club Soda.

Today, I don't remember a lot about the Roma. But, Star Wars, Club Soda and The Greaseband!

Addendum: The Fabulous Greaseband is still around!!!! http://www.greaseband.com/ Dewey Beach no less. And, so are The Fabulous Hubcaps. http://www.samhillba...aps/index.shtml

Anyway, somehow the mention of the Roma led to all of this on Saturday night...a few years later.

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A couple of doors down from the Roma was Club Soda. I first discovered this while standing in line in the late '70's to get into the Uptown to see Star Wars. With a lot of time to kill I couldn't help but look across the street. I remember an oldies band from New Jersey playing there called The Greaseband. One night, after watching Star Wars for the third or fourth time, I crossed the street and went to Club Soda.

Today, I don't remember a lot about the Roma. But, Star Wars, Club Soda and The Greaseband!

Addendum: The Fabulous Greaseband is still around!!!! http://www.greaseband.com/ Dewey Beach no less. And, so are The Fabulous Hubcaps. http://www.samhillba...aps/index.shtml

Anyway, somehow the mention of the Roma led to all of this on Saturday night...a few years later.

I used to work at Club Soda ... And at the bottle and cork in Dewey. I worked with the greaseband a number of times in both places, though I preferred Steve Smith and the Nakeds or Junior Cline. The greaseband is very technically precise but not as "rip it up" fun as those other two.

I saw the greaseband last new years eve in New Jersey and got to dance with my 11 year old daughter to their playing. Made me feel sort of old.

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I saw everyone you mentioned and probably thought the Hubcaps were the best of all. But my perspective was just as an enthusiast. Still, the first time I saw the Greaseband was at Club Soda and the room was crammed unlike, say, the Crossroads were when the Hubcaps played there. Both sold out their clubs but Club Soda seemed to allow more human flesh per square inch than about anywhere else.

Jerry Blavat?

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You're talking about Roma in Cleveland Park? The only French restaurant I can think of there is Lavandou, maybe Medium Rare as a stretch, but I can't remember any that have closed, and this is going to bother me until you think of what it was. And I have to ask, what exactly was the dead wildlife in Roma?

Safari trophies from Africa, is what I recall, from wildebeests on up. I probably didn't take a hard look at them but I believe they were everywhere on the walls.

L'Escargot must have been the name of the French restaurant. It was toward the end of the block, though my mind does not place it in the exact location of Ardeo. Also, I don't remember waiters on roller skates. There was skating at a restaurant on the Safeway side of Wisconsin Ave. somewhere before R Street. I never went. I guess I was too young to be able to afford eating there, but not too young to catch Brigitte Bardot at the Calvert, which today is a parking lot?

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I saw everyone you mentioned and probably thought the Hubcaps were the best of all. But my perspective was just as an enthusiast. Still, the first time I saw the Greaseband was at Club Soda and the room was crammed unlike, say, the Crossroads were when the Hubcaps played there. Both sold out their clubs but Club Soda seemed to allow more human flesh per square inch than about anywhere else.

Jerry Blavat?

"the Geator with the Heater, the Boss with the Hot Sauce"

I've seen him too- went to his club last summer. Love that music, but I'm not him and am about 25 years younger than mr Blavat.

I did, however, work as a DJ in about 100 different DC clubs and many beach towns... Though I don't think I worked with the hubcaps. Maybe, I dunno. That was many beers ago.

Club soda was tight. Low ceiling, close stage, flat black paint. It felt crowded no matter how many people were there. Back to the thread already in progress

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