Aug 112008

When we last left our hero he was heading off to Tampa with his lovely other half to attend the Wake (a lunch at the Tampa Bay Brewing Company that was part of the events surrounding Convergence 14 here in Tampa).

Caught up with me?  Good.

I really don’t want to sound like I’m being sensitive about the service that we got yesterday.  I understand it was a fairly large event.  I understand that there were a lot of orders happening at once.  I understand that things were hectic and that it would have been unrealistic to expect that things would have gone quickly or smoothly.  Hell, just the night before I was wondering out loud to my friends why the folks from the Corp Goth dinner were bitching about the checks having taken so long to get to the table for (the called and asked the shuttles to come pick them up BEFORE asking for the checks….seriously, folks…come on….You’ve got two tables of 20-30 people all on seperate checks.  You REALLY think you’re going to pay and be out the door in 15 minutes?).

So yeah, I grok that in a big event things tend to get a bit wonky.  I’ve worked in the restaurant business, so I understand this more than some people would.  I’m the guy that tips 20% even if the service is substandard.  I’m the guy who doesn’t send things back to the kitchen.  I’m the guy who smiles and says it’s ok when my order is hosed.  I’m insanely easy to please when it comes to going out to eat.

All those disclaimers aside, I’m so livid over yesterday I may never set foot in TBBC again.

For starters I will own up front that we got there about 20 minutes late to the event.  That may very well have set off a catastrophic chain of events that led to the meal being completely hosed, so I’ll own our responsibility in that.  I will, however, spell out the events as I see them and allow you, gentle reader, to come to your own conclusion.

  • We arrive, immediately sit down and get out menus to get our orders ready as we know we are late.  The folks at our table tell us that they have already made appetizer orders.  We quickly decide what we want and are ready to place our orders.
  • We wait about 20 minutes before even getting to place a drink order.  Once we get our drinks we order our appetizers.  The waiter goes and puts those appetizer orders in before taking any additional food orders from the table.
  • We finally get our drinks around the same time that the table starts getting appetizers.  One of the appetizers is a popcorn shrimp that had been cancelled.  At this point he takes our food orders.
  • One of our appetizers comes out (cheese ale dip).  The other “will be out soon.”
  • We run out of bread for the dip (as usually happens).  Flag down waiter and ask him for some more.
  • We wait.  Cheese gets cold.  Still no second appetizer.
  • About 25 minutes later the waiter finally comes to the table and tells us that there is no more bread to be had.  Oh yeah, no more pretzles either.  Order hummus instead.
  • We wait some more.
  • Still no entrees.
  • Waiter comes out and tells me there is no more hummus.  I tell him to forget the second appetizer.
  • One last hummus is apparently found an brought to the table.  There would be much rejoycing, but the hummus is bland and has virtually no flavor.  To the point where I salted it.  Liberally.  I’ve never salted hummus before.
  • At 1:15 Bob announces that anyone attending one of the trips that are scheduled at 2 needs to catch the shuttle back to the hotel.  Most of the folks at our table are going on day trips.  NONE of our entrees have arrived yet (please note, the event started at 11:30 AM).  Every other table (as far as I can tell) has already eaten and at this point is just socializing.  Food finally arrives, only to be immediately sent back and packed up.  I volunteer to drive some folks going to the zoo over there so we can all eat, but find out after doing so that they need to get to the hotel to change, put on suncsreen, etc.  I had thought we’d all get to actually eat at the restaurant, but instead our food ended up needing to be packed up to go as well.
  • Krystalle and I finally get to eat our food when we get back home to St. Petersburg, at least an hour after it is prepared.  It’s soggy, cold, and to top it all off we didn’t even have time to order the desserts we had paid for either.

Again, I understand that it’s a big event and you should expect some delays, but it’s not like we all descended on TBBC sight unseen.  This was a contracted, planned event.  They were expecting up to 150 people at once, all of whom were going to be ordering at the same time.  If there were going to be problems with the variety of food ordered they should have had a limited menu (which, I understoood, they were supposed to have – the only limitation they gave us was “no entrees”).  They did not staff accordingly at all, and I highly doubt they gave any kind of though in advance to what they would need to have prepared food wise to actually feed everyone.   We didn’t even fill up the restaurant, so it’s not like the size of our party was anything that they, as an establishment, were unprepared to handle.  We took up one half of the dining room, and I could be wrong but I’d say there were less than the projected 150 people in attendance.

As I said, I’m livid at the restaurant over this.  I’ve gotten horrible service before (the Krystal incident during our trip to St. Augustine being the prime example), but I can generally put that down to a failure on one persons part and shrug it off.  Yesterday, however, was a failure on all levels.  From the watier to the kitchen to management, everyone from TBBC who had a hand in my dining experience yesterday made it a miserable one and I’m just not sure if they deserve any more of my money.

Edit – Krystalle pointed out to me that we were NOT the only folks who didn’t get our food until almost 1:30.  Also, I just went and looked up the event on the C14 site and must note here that dessert was not listed as part of the meal there.  I could have sworn it was when we registered, but I could be recalling that incorrectly.

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