Monday, June 29, 2009

Restaurant Rant - Is $9.99 All It Takes?

It's been hot here, I realize that. Sunday afternoon it was 103 degrees in Dallas, 107 if you believed my car thermometer as I left the Dallas Convention Center where I attended the SW Food Expo. And maybe losing our electricity at home for 7 hours that day didn't help my mood. By evening, when the subject of dinner came up (and the status of our electricity still undetermined), my choice was 1) cold, with frozen beverages and 2) TV, so I voted for a chain named after a day of the week, which The Boy seconded and carried the vote of 3.

What occurred was such a sorry story of a bad experience I find it hard to share - except the highlights. As in the specious sell of a $9.99 "crunchy pecan-crusted chicken breast comes warm and sliced atop crispy Romaine lettuce", which arrived protein frigid with a chilly pecan crust that made me wonder, do they really cook this on site then chill it down, or does it come off the truck this way and the kitchen just slice it?

And to further the transgressions, when a guest asks their server if the $4 frozen strawberry margarita comes in a large size, a true salesman says "Absolutely, I love you, let me get you 2 or 3 or those" , NOT "well it's a lot more expensive". Larger sales must not be a priority in a place that is marketing it's new low-priced menu, and I'm certain that the lower prices are not necessarily helping in retaining their best and brightest staff. Not to load on our obviously ill-equipped server, but when the chef comes out, does a 360 in your station, and then comes back with a rag and starts wiping your tables, maybe it's time to think about another paying job.

Hubby said, "It starts at the top," and I couldn't agree more. From having to ask for silverware and napkins (twice), to noticing every waiter that passed by our table went by with empty hands (passing by empty tables filled with dirty dishes). It starts above the management of this particular location, it falls upon the shoulders of those "selling" this chain to guests, employees, franchisers, investors. It falls on those who think the public can be fooled by a $4 weak-ass margarita and a dumbed down $9.99 chicken salad.

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