Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Disappointing Experience

I'm publishing a letter I wrote to the owner/chef of a new restaurant in Baltimore, Miguel's Cocina.  Shaun and I had a less than stellar experience there, (to put it VERY mildly), and I initially sent this letter to them directly.  But it's been over a week and I've yet to receive a response, so I'm posting here to hopefully save others the disappointment of poor customer service.  (And for the record, we ended up at Blue Agave instead and were very pleased with both the food and the service).  Originally letter is as follows:

Dear Mr. Marx,

This past Friday evening, April 23rd, my husband and I were deciding where to venture for a nice dinner out.  A fan of Mexican food, he suggested Blue Agave, having heard great things about the food there.  We mentioned our plans to a friend and she told us that you, (former chef at Blue Agave), had moved on to open a new place named Miguel’s.   

We were excited to try it and arrived at Miguel’s shortly after 5:30pm.  The bar was crowded and merry and the drinks looked great as we were led to our table by the sweet hostess. 

A few short minutes after we were seated, the server arrived.  He didn’t look either one of us in the eye and greeted us with a gruff, “What can I get you?”  My husband asked the server, “I was wondering if we could get the drink specials for Happy Hour or is that just at the bar?”  The server sighed audibly, rolled his eyes and said, “They’re just at the bar.”  Shaun, (my husband), smiled and said, “Oh, that’s ok!  For future reference, what is the discount?”The server’s negative attitude continued, “It’s just at the bar.” He stated abruptly while staring over our heads.

Shaun replied, “Right, but we were just wondering what the discount  was so we can head to the bar next time if we’d like.”

“A dollar off.”  No eye contact, no further conversation.  He crossed his arms and looked around.

“OK, thanks”

We glanced back down to the menus and the server sighed heavily and said, “So what do you want?”

My husband deferred to me and I asked politely for a water to start.

The server turned on his heel and walked off to get a water, (presumably).  He didn’t even ask my husband what he’d like to drink or acknowledge our completely puzzled expressions and questions.

The server returned with the water, and without another word, set it in front of me and stalked off again.  He didn’t glance at either one of us and despite my husband’s trying to make eye contact, he again did not acknowledge him or attempt to collect his drink order. 

At this point, the server’s horrible attitude had considerably spoiled our appetites and we decided to leave.  Neither one of us wanted to be subjected to this server’s hostility for our entire meal. And truly, a written recount of his words do not do justice in showing how incredibly hostile he was. For the record, this is the first time we’d ever, ever left a restaurant before completing a meal.  

On the way out, my husband was explaining our reasoning for leaving to the hostess.  She was gracious and expressed her apologies.   The server walked over and kept repeating, “What’s the problem?  I don’t see what the problem is.”  We didn’t even mention his attitude at this point, but merely mentioned that he neglected to serve  or even ask my husband about his drink. The server responded huffily, “You were looking at the menu.”  Forgive me for assuming, but as far as I know, people generally look at the menu before ordering.  And if the patron is taking an inordinately long time to decide, general practice assumes that the server politely asks if the patrons would need a few more minutes before heading off to take care of other tables, etc.   

He was combative and rude the entire time my husband was explaining our reasons for leaving.  Shaun decided it wasn’t worth it to try to explain to him anymore and we left.  

As we were walking to the car, my husband decided that this situation warranted a conversation with a manager.  He walked in and asked the hostess if he could talk with the manager about our experience and to our disbelief, she sheepishly pointed to the very man who had given us such terrible service.  The server/manager walked over and said again, “What’s the problem? I don’t see what is wrong.  I didn’t do anything wrong. What’s the problem?”

My husband expressed his incredulity at this horribly rude man being the manager for a restaurant and knowing that we weren’t going to get any further trying to get him to understand our displeasure, we left.  

We were sorely disappointed, as the menu looked delicious and inventive.  We have heard good things about your restaurant so we’re assuming that this is an anomaly rather than the norm.  

However, being as how this man was a staff member in charge of taking care of the patrons, we are fiercely reluctant to return.  

We love to eat out and are absolutely in support of patronizing local businesses.  It saddens us both to have had such a negative experience in a place that was highly touted.  

We do hope this letter serves to help you improve your customer service in the area of this man so that no one else is subjected to the same negativity as we were.  

Jennifer Smithson


  1. I am so sorry you had such a horrible experience! As I was reading your recount, I could feel my blood boiling for you! What a jerk (to say it mildly)! Proud of you guys for leaving and I hope that someday you will get a response!

  2. Jen, that totally stinks. But Blue Agave is delicious!

  3. Poo! That's one local restaurant we won't be frequenting. I'll try Blue Agave on your recommendation!

  4. Argh. Sorry you had such an experience. That's really bad. Glad that the other choice was great.

  5. Your waiter's name wasn't Mr. Marx, was it? ;)



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