Regular customers. First time Poor Service, Food and overall experience
by Vanessa C. - Posted Mon March 20, 2006 @ 2:58 PM
On 3/6/06 we dined at our local Olive Garden which has been our favorite restaurant since it opened here in Sevier County. We have always had excellent service from this establishment until recently. On 3/6/06 my husband and I visited for an evening dinner, the weather was freezing that night. The wait was normal, roughly 15 minutes, good seating time overall.
We were seated in the nonsmoking section that follows to the right of the main walkway facing the main parkway in the booth on the left side of the windows. Above this table there is a direct vent which was blowing out cold air, keep in mind we had just come in from outside where the temperature was in the 40's/50's, we were shivering sitting here. After waiting for over 5-10 minutes our waitress finally shows up. We explain to her that there is this freezing cold air blowing down from the vent above, obvious that the air conditioner was running, and if she could please ask management to place turn it off/turn the heat on. She tells us that no the air conditioning is not on and follows it up by some halfass excuse of how cold air comes in and bounces off the windows from outside which then makes it appear cold/gives off a cold draft?!?!?
My husband builds brand new homes in this area and knows all about the construction of such as well as the windows/weather and how they operate. It was obvious that this woman was lying straight to our faces. She then takes our drink order and disappears for another 10 minutes.
She returns with our drinks, takes our order and leaves again. Moments later we both felt a rush of hot air indicating that they had finally switched the heat on (the familiar burnt/heat smell when a system is switched from A/c to heat was obvious that she was lying). Great, we both got to thaw out while waiting for our food. The waitress finally returns with our salad and some breadsticks and then disappears, by now it was so hot that it we were smoldering, she returns about 10-15 minutes later and asks if we would like some more salad to which we said yes and she acknowledged.
While waiting on her to return there was that rush of freezing cold air again, obvious that the air conditioning had been turned on again. I don't know who's enjoying this game of freeze out but by now we were getting extremely annoyed at this. There was no point in talking to the waitress about this problem again because during the first discussion of this she blatantly lied to our faces.
Another 10 minutes later she returns, no salad in hand, and asks us if we would like some more salad?!? Does she have alzheimers? Wouldn't it dawn on her to wonder where the big salad bowl had gone to considering she just picked it up 10 minutes prior when she asked us the same question? My husband and I just looked at each other amazed at this and just politely say "yes" again to which she again acknowledges and then leaves.
Some time passes and she returns with a bowl of salad and reeking of tobacco/smoke (that explains the long waits and inattentiveness, she had to take time out for her cigarette breaks). By this time our meal had been delivered. She finally offers a refill of our tea and coke and then leaves again.
Our plates are hot as usual and all seemed normal. My husband had ordered the Chicken Parmesan which was steaming off the plate and I had ordered the Manicotti Formaggio. I take the first bite of my manicotti and it was at best lukewarm. I don't mean it wasn't hot enough, I mean it was NOT hot at all. I'm guessing my entree was staged while waiting on my husbands to cook. At this point I was more than ready to leave. My husband's entree was fine, thoroughly hot, so I set my plate off to the side and ate another plate of salad with a breadstick while waiting for him to finish his meal.
The waitress returned once to offer a refill of drinks. When he was finished we stacked all of our plates into a pile and straightened/cleaned up the table like we always do. The waitress returns and I asked for a to go box for my entree that I didn't touch. She asks if I would like a few breadsticks to take with me, I declined at first but she persisted so I politely replied 'yes'. She leaves and returns with a to-go box and an empty breadstick bag. She takes my plate to empty the entree into the to-go box and hands me the bag so that I could put the 3 breadsticks that were in the bottom of our dish/trash pile to take with me. This was the final straw, we asked for our check, paid and quickly left.
We have always enjoyed this Olive Garden and we recommend it to everyone that asks us for a great place to eat. This however was unlike any other dining experience we have had at this specific establishment and it reflected very poorly on the type of service we normally receive. This incident makes us never to want to return again. I'm assuming this was due to this specific waitress, the male waiter that was working in the section beside and near us was very attentive to his tables and very friendly (the type of service we're accustomed to any other time we've dined here). However the service we received this visit was absolutely terrible and there is no excuse for the inattentiveness, lying and the taking of smoke breaks when you have customers-especially those that are nonsmoking.
Quite honestly I have no idea what you can do about this terrible experience now. In the future I do recommend that you sit your employees down and explain to them that the customer comes first. If they need to take a smoking break then do so during the times when you're not waiting on a table.
I doubt it could be done, but if possible use nonsmoking servers for your nonsmoking section. There's nothing worse than requesting a nonsmoking section and being waited on by a server who reeks of tobacco. Personally when dining out we request the farthest table away from the smoking section. Coming from a nonsmoking person I can tell you that not only does it irritate the sinuses, burns your nose but it absolutely makes you nauseous when being around a smoker when you're trying to eat.
Below is what is written on our ticket so that you can figure out who the waitress was that night and straighten this out. This needs to be taken care of before this establishment loses more customers due to poor quality service.
Mar.6, 2006 7:06pm
1662 3 11 30068
Server : Susan M
Cashier: Susan M
Check : 4778
Table : 202
Soft Drink 1.95
Iced Tea 1.95
Mani Formaggio 11.25
Chick Parm 12.25
Sales Tax 2.60
Eat In 30.00