Monday, November 13, 2006

Open Thread #4

With last week's Open Thread getting around 40 comments, it's about time to start a new one, huh?

BTW, sorry I was blog-lazy last week. I had a big midterm...

Topics covered: service at local restaurants (emphasis on Boston's and the Bronze Boot), service in local banks

46 comments:

Anonymous said...

I was at Boston's Pizza the other night with a friend, I had never been there before, we sat in the bar and ordered 2 orders of wings. 45 minutes later they arrived. We checked with the server twice and were promised they had been ordered. Usually when I'm out to have a good time with friends and enjoy a beer or two this kind of thing doesn't bother me but 45 minutes for wings seems a touch out of line. Anyone else been to Boston's and have a problem?

Anonymous said...

I've heard similar stories about Boston's, but I've not experienced any major delays first-hand.

My masterful delay award goes to Buffalo Wild Wings and the evening of "Did anybody think to wait on the patio customers?" I actually organized a small rebellion which fled over to Applebees when the wait staff wasn't looking (we could have done it naked and they wouldn't have noticed). ¡Viva la revoluciĆ³n!

Honorable mention: Suite 49. My band plays there often and if anybody I know has ordered drinks, it takes over 10 minutes to get them to the table. The record for my wife and three friends was over 25 minutes. Boo.

I'd say that the new chains opening up are going to have a net positive because it will mean that some of the current restaraunts that take their overflow Friday and Saturday night clientele for granted may actually have to step up their service to retain their customer base.

Time to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Bob said...

Even Boston's knows the service is bad. They are currently running the "15 minute lunch or it's free" ad campaign.

As for BWW, anyone else notice the switch to real silverware? I hear real plates are on the way, too.

GrandForksGuy said...

I've only been to Boston's once, but I have heard bad stories about the service since from several friends.

Anonymous said...

I think the Perkin's restaurant by the hospital takes the cake for the crappiest slowest service. I went there and waited 10 minutes for a waiter to bring water, and menus, after that we didnt see any sign of our waiter for 35 minutes. We asked several other waitresses and waiters, and there response was "oh thats not my table." The people next to use got the same service, and after waiting 45 minutes both my party and the other table left.

dale said...

Yes, Boston's absolutely sucks. We went there twice about a year ago, shortly after they opened, and the service was horrendous. Never went back.

So last month we get a $10 off coupon and figure we'll give them another chance. We're there at 5PM or so on a Sunday night, restaurant is 1/2 full, and we're told there will be a 20 minute wait. Hello?

Apparently there's a shortage of wait staff, so they have to leave half the tables empty. Okay, I can understand that, except they have three people standing around the check in stand. How about telling one or two of them to wait tables?

In the end, the server we got totally screwed up our orders, didn't bring out our appetizer until about two minutes before the food got there, and gave me the wrong bill. At that point, I was through arguing with him (the bill was for the food that he'd already tried delivering) and just paid it and left.

Ironic, because the meal I ate was pretty good, but we'll not be going back.

Anonymous said...

Have any of you had bad service at any other restaurant? I have. My husband and I USED to go to Green Mill for lunch every week. The food was alright, but the service got worse with each visit, so we no longer go there. We've also tried Blue Moose as they have a pasta I love, but each time we go it's not made the same way and the server was confused about getting my pasta without pepperoni. I agree about Suite 49, we were there for lunch, 3 other tables were there and our server ignored us and the food took forever. We haven't been to Applebee's for years for the same reasons.

Anonymous said...

The Boston's problems continue outside of the restaurant as well. Having bad luck on my first two visits... being told there was a 30 minute wait when there were tons of empty tables, and the second time being given my chicken salad... without the chicken...

So third time we decided to order delivery.... we ordered the food at 11 am on a Sunday morning... it still hadn't shown up at 1... So, we finally called... they said they got lost... but never called us back... they then delivered our food 15 minutes later... and it was cold.

JGS said...

I have eaten at Boston's twice I think, and both times the service sucked. Never going back there until new management rolls in.

charlie said...

Nice to hear other folks have experienced similar problems in the same eating spots. I gave up on Boston's and the Green Mill after one shot; Perkins...gosh, that place used to be top notch...but a few months ago the service really fell apart---from the greeter at the door to the waitstaff to the cashier. It's like they could care less whether one comes back.
Grand Forks really could use some energetic servers...there isn't a whole lot of difference between McDonalds and the restaurants anymore...but they love the tips...

Coffee Guy said...

dale wrote: Apparently there's a shortage of wait staff, so they have to leave half the tables empty. Okay, I can understand that, except they have three people standing around the check in stand. How about telling one or two of them to wait tables?

I'll beat that! One day we counted 6 people at the check in stand...just standing around, we received a pager to summon us when our table was empty (only about 1/4 of the tables had customers), and they still screwed up our food order.

We went there this past Thursday and we received pretty decent service (from Dusty).

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Charlie, good service is scarce, not only at restaurants, but department and grocery stores. I hope that people will go easy on the new resaturants. I've been to Golden Corral and Texas Roadhouse(not the one in Fargo), and enjoyed them, although at Texas Roadhouse it did take some time to get seated and get our food. I just think the service industry as a whole has stopped caring because there are only so many choices and eventually you'll go back hoping things have changed only to find the same old thing. From the ads in the Sunday paper it seems all restaurants are hurting for employees. I do know if you call Boston's or send an email telling them about your experience, the managers are good about getting back to you and trying to make things right. My friend had a bad time at Suite 49 and the manager could care less. I've also noticed that servers go from restaurant to restaurant because they can't cut it at the one they were at before.

Anonymous said...

How about we talk about another service issue that has gone to the dogs. I bank at a certain nationwide bank, and when I go there, they are always trying to sell me this or sign me up for that, when all I want to do is deposit or withdraw my money. Does anyone else have to deal with this?

Anonymous said...

What this town needs is a real mexican restaurant. I can't believe how everyone raves about Paradiso. It's some of the worst food I've ever had and in no way resemble mexican.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the banking comment above. I bank at Wells Fargo and have for years. Rarely do I actually go to the bank as my paycheck is direct deposit and I use their on-line banking for 99% of what I need. I do have to say their on-line banking is great in my opinion. On the times that I do have to go to the bank the service has sucked. There are never enough tellers working and I can expect a wait in line every time. Going through the drive thru isn't any better as it seems I always get behind the person doing a months worth of banking from their car or attempting to pass a post dated third party out of state check... My favorite is the dumb questions you get, and this is not just at Wells Fargo. I go in to withdraw money and they ask "do you have an account here?" No, I'd like to take it from somebody else's account sweethart... Anyway, if anyone can tell me about the great experiances they have had at their bank I'd be happy to consider switching.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the Paradiso comment. I like it for what it is but boy we could use a more authentic place.

Anonymous said...

I used to bank with Wells Fargo since I opened my account when I lived in another state. I also have direct deposit but and go to the bank every so often. I just got sick of not being able to do what I wanted to do and go. We switched to Bremer and not one time has anything been shoved down my throat. Wells Fargo is all about sales, which explains the high amount of turnover they have. There are always new tellers there, Again, it boils down to the service issue, whether your at a bank, store, or restaurant, the service is bad. I wonder if it's this generation, I know it sounds dumb but just think about it. I'm in my mid-thirties and things were so much different when I was in the 18-24 range. These kids now have no common sense. When I'm at a store, asking any of the younger ones for direction is like pulling teeth. I used to wait tables then also, and there was quite a few older servers that new how to do things. I think you could hit some of those kidsover the head and it wouldn't faze them.

ec99 said...

From my experience the best restaurants for service are Al's and the Bronze Boot. As for banks, American Federal's service is excellent. As for the service industry in Grand Forks in general, you get what you pay for;
waitresses are expected to make it on below minimum wage plus tips. Tellers make next to nothing also.

dale said...

Ate at the Boot on Saturday, coincidentally, and got pretty slow service. The prime rib was about 33% big glob of fat, as well. So that remains a "once a year" kind of place.

After eating in Mexico, I've yet to find a good Mexican restaurant in the US. I don't think that we have the palate for it. We eat at Mexican Village once or twice a month, not because the food is particularly authentic, but the service is top-notch (aside from the always having to wait for a table, due to popularity, not a shortage of wait staff) and all three of us have our favourite foods there.

Finally, I've banked at Bremer since it was Valley Bank back in 1985. Have never had a complaint, and I'm always treated well when I actually have to go in the place. We also have a couple of accounts at Wells Fargo, but they're maintained by my wife, so I have no contact with them at all.

Charlie said...

Is it possible that The Bronze Boot, much like Whitey's, remains high in popularity in no small part due to it's legendary status. Both were once above average dining spots. Recent visits cause me to now think otherwise. As Dale mentioned, the steaks aren't remarkable...and the Boot is way overdue for a facelift inside.
My family and I certainly miss the Riverbend; not only were the meals consistently above-par, they had a server there, a young lady who had worked with the Blackmuns for years, who was unbeatable. Makes one yearn for the days before the development of the south-end of Grand Forks, for sure...

Anonymous said...

The Bronze Boot was a really bad for us. We were at the host stand for too long, the server acted as though she didn't want to be there, and the food was horrible. My son ordered a plain hamburger and it was brought it out as a cheeseburger, we sent it back and all they did was scrape the cheese off and flip it over. We were stunned. That has to be the worst dining out experience we've ever had.

Anonymous said...

Qdoba is even more authentic Mexican than Paradiso, but that's not saying much.

Ethnic cuisines need a population critical mass to attract the kind of authenticity we crave. I'm not sure GF has reached it yet. But, I'd love to see a good Japanese or Thai place as well.

Coffee Guy said...

I've been to the Bronze Boot once, and I'll never go again.

First, I just felt out of place. But then again I'm not 75 years old or dragging an oxygen tank because I smoked my lungs away despite 42 years of Surgeon General warnings.

Second, the steaks were not all that good. I have a feeling I'll enjoy the enzyme-tenderized steaks at the Texas Roadhouse better.

Third, and most importantly, one of my dining companions ordered a a dish that came with stuffing. She asked for either a substitution (HAHA..."umm...no, you can't.") or to just have the stuffing removed. The waitress (the older German lady) told her that she can't have the stuffing taken off the plate either, because "It looks nice that way, with the stuffing." Allergies be damned! Celiac Disease be damned! Diabetics be damned! Customer wishes be damned! That's basically what it amounted to.

Bronze Boot be damned!

Coffee Guy said...

We've been taking our own bottles of hot sauce into Paradiso since the concept of either making spicy food or having hot sauces available hasn't dawned on them yet.

We suggested to the manager that hot sauces be available, and he looked utterly amazed at the concept. Just stupefied. He picked up our bottle of Trader Joe's Jalapeno Hot Sauce stared at it like it was the Rosetta Stone.

dale said...

He picked up our bottle of Trader Joe's Jalapeno Hot Sauce stared at it like it was the Rosetta Stone.

Heheh. That's hilarious. I really miss the choice of sauces you'd get at even the most basic restaurant in Mexico.

And the pico de gallo. Man, did they ever have good pico de gallo down there.

Coffee Guy said...

I'm with you, dale. Mexico was great! Without a doubt one of the greatest meals ever was had down there at a hacienda deep in the country.

Anonymous said...

I second the nominations for a Thai and a Japanese joint.

I think there'd be enough people to make an authentic Mexican restaurant successful, provided it's in the right location (location location!). I've got a hankering for some salsa cruda and enchiladas that are wrapped in corn tortillas instead of the midwest-ized flour you see everywhere.

I'd also really like to see a Jamba Juice or two - breakfast would never be the same 'round here again.

Ahh, to dream...

Anonymous said...

You have to cut The Boot some slack. They draw from well outside G.F./E.G.F. without all the economic mumbo-jumbo hype you hear all the time in town. Employing folks, payin' taxes for like 50 years, not suckin' the teat of society. I love it. I'm going to go drop some bucks there!

GrandForksGuy said...

I can't understand why the Bronze Boot never remodels their place or even moves to a brand new place. They seem to be quite popular, but they're in such an out-of-the-way kind of area. Then again, that doesn't really seem to hurt them.

charlie said...

Be my guest, anonymous...there are cleaner places with consistently decent food to eat. I loved The Boot, too...but for the prices, I don't think new (or at least, clean) carpets and a decent steak that has more meat than fat isn't a lot to ask. For the investments they've made in keeping the place up, I'd wager they've made enough money to pay taxes for "like 50 years" without much trouble.

Anonymous said...

One doesn't need a lot of ambience to purchase a case of Old Milwaukee or even a bottle of wine; the old Happy Harry's on Fifth and Demers did a fine job of serving their customers. But I'm sure glad the owner believes in investing in his community, cares enough for his customers that he simply doesn't rest on his laurals and pull the cash in. Weigh that thought against Whitey's and The Bronze Boot philosophy: as long as the grandchildren and children of customers of the heyday of the venues keep coming back, why put more money into the place. Uffda.

ec99 said...

"But I'm sure glad the owner believes in investing in his community,"

Yeah, problem is he believes in investing our money too.

Anonymous said...

I'm no fan of Wal-Mart or foodservice chains, believe me, but my biggest pet peeve is local merchants who don't reinvest in their establishments and then bitch when locals don't remain loyal.

Restaurateurs out there - If you don't believe us, at the very least hire mystery shoppers/diners to get a realistic sense of how your restaurant is perceived.

ec99 said...

" local merchants who don't reinvest in their establishments"

Yeah, I remember when the parking lot of L & M Meats north side store looked as bombed out as Beirut.

Charlie said...

ec99...not unlike The Boot, eh? :o)

Great idea, that of mystery shoppers/diners...but somehow I suspect the owners/managers are already quite aware. It's the attitude of "We're still making money, why bother spending it on improvements" thing.

Gosh, it'd be really neat if the above mentioned places (at least) would read these blogs, wouldn't it?

Nothing wrong with constructive criticism; I'd expect no less from my own management.

Coffee Guy said...

charlie said: "Gosh, it'd be really neat if the above mentioned places (at least) would read these blogs, wouldn't it?"

Some places in town do. Maybe I'll get called a "D-Bag" by some restaurant owner's kid...again.

Anonymous said...

With Pinnacle Airlines now taking over GFK's Northwest operations, will a Northwest Commuter flight to Memphis be possible? Pinnacle is based in Memphis and is a NW partner. A direct flight to Memphis would eliminate one flight leg to much of the south central part of the country.

Pinnacle is also going to help GFK land Frontier airlines. With Pinnacle available as the contractor, Frontier will be able to offer flights to Denver without having any of their own people in GFK. With United having a Denver-Fargo flight, Frontier will be avoiding the Fargo market. It's a win-win-win for Pinnacle and Frontier and GFK.

So next year, will GFK have three hubs to fly to:

MSP
DEN
MEM

??

Anonymous said...

It is my understanding Pinnacle is only taking over ground operations at GFK, such as ticket agents, baggage handlers and such. They are not going to be flying into GFK as that contract is still with Mesaba.

Charlie said...

It took forty entries to create a new thread this week...I'm doin' my part with number 39 here, in hopes that folks will start commenting again. :o)

Coffee Guy said...

40.

Anonymous said...

Looking for final score of the Stephen/Argyle vs. Underwood game in Minneapolis...can't find it on line.

Anyone know if the Storm picked up #53?

Anonymous said...

Pelosi is now House Speaker. I'm asking the cable news networks...Puh-leazzzzeee don't introduce high-def anytime soon. I was just expecting her dentures to come flying out. My child doesn't need to see that!

Anonymous said...

After what comes out of the mouth of the oval office the last six years, you needn't worry about your child seeing anything new...

Anonymous said...

Pelosi already got smoked. Thank god! Murtha dissed the troops and needs to pay for that.

"2/3rd's of Americans polled are against the war in Iraq". Translation..."2/3rd's of Americans are to simpleton to get what's going on in Iraq".

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