Let's call today: 'Wednesday, 23 April 2008'
wrote in the notebook:
Boycott the Pancake Kitchen, Adelaide
So, the Original Pancake Kitchen in Gilbert Place was already slipping in my favourites column. But this Tuesday saw it cemented in the blacklisted column of doom, never to scramble its way out.
A conveniently 24/7 foodery with quaint wall features from various eras, the Kitchen has potential. Boasting all you can eat Tuesdays, a webcam link so your friends (and stalkers) can watch you dine from the comfort of your own home, and a cartoonist every monday, there's many a novel carrot dangled to entice you in. But with consistently sub-standard wait staff (English-speaking skills optional), it takes forever for you to be noticed at your table... which, I must include, on this last visit I had to clear and wipe down myself.
Once seated and successfully calling over a waitress (it only took 2 tries), I ordered our requests: 2 serves of pancakes, an 'Enormous' apple juice, and a strawberry swiss shake with extra malt.
The waitress repeats: "1 Tuesday Pancakes... anything else?"
I think to myself Only everything I've already ordered...
But, I calmly state again what we'd like, and she mumbles out the total cost, yanks the $50 note from me and walks off.
Sometime later she throws my change down on the table, again mumbling its total, and disappears again.
It is Tuesday after all, and the place is busy, and having worked in a restaurant before I try not to expect too much from a busy & understaffed place, but above all I believe that it's times like this that a staff member's attitude to the customer must reach a superhuman level of patience and communication. After all the customer's stress won't peak as high if you can at least give the impression of being not-stressed out yourself... even if there is a table full of morons across the way ordering in waves and banging the tables gesturing in your direction.
Bascially, show you're human, and that you want to be there, want to serve them, and are willing to explain that you're really busy today but will do your best to get them what they need fast - and if it can't be fast, tell them why and how long it should take.
Not a hard ask surely?
Now aside from waiting forever to be noticed, and a gap of at least half an hour between service, when the clock told me I had no more time to abide such delays I decided to speak to someone, perhaps if nothing else to get our second round of pancakes to go.
I bump into our bewildered looking waitress from earlier and ask to see a manager, in response to which she grabs the first person she finds near the kitchen door and points to me.
When this young man of around mid- to late- twenties hears my concerns he dives into the whole "well, we're very busy" attitude.
Yes, I can see that, but even if your little tongue-tied waitress here had acknowledged us and kept us in the loop, I wouldn't be quite so miffed...
After some back and forth intercourse with this gentleman (and me repeating that whilst I understood that they're very busy, I'm mostly just ticked off that I wasn't treated as human let alone a valued customer, and that regardless of any of this I have to leave for my tram in minutes), he agrees to refund our $12.
As we gather our things and make our way to the front of the eatery a pissed-off staff member approaches us and asks if we have actually had any pancakes because, she assures, they were sent out.
As before, I tell her that yes, we did have our first serve of apparently 'all you can eat pancakes' - approaching 45mins ago - and as with the first guy I spoke to mentioned that it was more the service I was complaining about, not the fact that they were busy.
I reiterated that even if we had been told:
"Look folks we're really swamped here tonight but we'll get them over to you as soon as we can, it'll take about 30mins... that okay?"
I would have said:
"well at least they told us."
I mentioned also that the fellow I spoke to said he was reimbursing our $12 so hey, no hard feelings. This stern pale face grew sterner as she spat out "No we can't do that."
"But he said we were getting a refund..."
"No, you've already eaten. You can't have a refund."
So I've paid for All You Can Eat Pancakes and won't get a refund even though after a single serving I can quite easily eat more?
I would have just paid for an actual pancake meal and been satisfied with my one serve and left it at that had I known all this, but then, as I've pointed out, communication is not their forte tonight.
At the news that there's no refund coming and nothing to keep us there any longer, I state again that this is predominantly an issue with service. But by now I can see that, in this girl's mind, I've already left - she's obviously a pro at their special kind of customer service, perhaps there's a company contest? - I tell her that this place was already losing their reputation and customers and that I too won't be visiting again either after tonight.
Her response to the loss of customers?
She didn't care.
No one in that place gave a fuck if we came back again or not.
Repeat business? Who needs it?
Positive Word-of-Mouth? Clearly overrated.
For they seemed to care the place could burn down, as long as they didn't have to work there anymore.
I took it as a sign that they also wouldn't care if I shared my story with the world.
And that, dear reader, is what I have just done.
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