Yes, just as the title says, I am going to rant. So, if you don't want to hear it, then look away now.
Today was supposed to be a relaxing day, the day after Christmas, even though our house has become a complete disarray of toy confetti. Grandma even took our oldest for the night, so it was just Hubby, Babe, and I. We were out shopping at WalMart (with our new giftcards *wink wink*), and decided on the way home to stop at Red Robin instead of cooking when we got home.
Upon arriving at the Blackstone Valley Shoppes (where the nearest Red Robin to us is located), we noticed a lot of traffic. So, as we were heading up the quarry, we decided to call ahead and check the wait time. The guy that answered the phone said 15 minutes, so we were game. We parked not so close, because we in no way expected to get lucky and walked a few minutes to the restaurant.
When we got inside, we noticed that it was extremely packed, which is not usual for the times we visit. We walked up to the host at the counter and he took our name. We asked how long the wait would be for "us" (he already knew we were 2 adults and a 1 year old who needs a highchair), and he replied 15 minutes. Same time as when we called. Ok, still game.
We stood (yes stood, no one was nice enough to give up their seats to a pregnant woman holding a wiggly toddler) and waited. Hubs played a few crane games, and baby danced around in the light for a bit then stared at the TV they have in the floor.
Here is the part that sucks: After about 20 minutes, we started noticing a few parties that had gotten there after us were already getting seated. One group of about 4 teens came in and got seated immediately, and the couple near us noticed that it seemed they were buddy-buddy with the hosts. I went over and checked how many names were in front of ours and asked the lady how much longer she thought it would take. There were only 5 names and she said it would only take 10 minutes more (she too knew we had a highchair requirement). A few minutes later, she even turned to us and said that they were cleaning off our table right now (and she indicated the very first table closest to the front).
I watched as the guy leisurely wiped the table a few times, and then proceeded back up to the kiosk and called a few more groups. Then he would go back, wipe a few more times, and then again call a few more groups. I went right up to the lady and asked her what was taking so long (they had already skipped our name 8 times!), and her response was that because of the highchair they can only put us so many places. I said to her, 'I thought you said that was our table right there. Why is it taking him so long to clean it off?'
Right at that same time, another host was noticing that the table was clear and proceeded to ask her who was next. (Yes, while I was in the middle of talking.) Anyways, she haphazardly apologized and brushed us off, while the host that was occasionally clearing our table finally grabbed our menus and seated us. Yes, we were livid at this point, and asked for a comment card. Hubs immediately took out his pen and furiously recalled the event in as few words as he could muster, because of the limited space available.
I demanded that hubby remember that it is not the waitress, and we should not treat her like it was her fault.
Speaking of which, Ashley was the perfect gem of a waitress. She came right over, took our order, brought us our drinks in 2 minutes, and our food was out in 5 minutes! And I am not exaggerating. A few miscommunications on the order, however I take the blame for that and she even offered to correct it for me. For such a busy night, she was really on top of her game the whole way.
At the end of our meal, which was excellent as always, hubs asked her to whom we should give the comment card to. We reassured her it was nothing about her, and she (being very concerned about our experience) asked if there was anything she could do and what it was about. Hubby, of course, graciously told her every detail about what peeved him the most about getting seated tonight. She apologized again and again, agreed at our anger, and offered to get the manager.
When the manager, Brett, came over, he was just as darling as Ashley. He listened to our story, agreed with our concerns, and he even remembered us from our twice monthly visits with our little peanut (the gorgeous blue eyes give us away). He asked if there was anything he could do to make our night better, and wanted to right all the wrongs in our eyes from the night. Hubs said something along the lines of, 'Your food and service are usually always the best, and I crave your food all the time. But tonight makes me almost not want to come back ever.' Brett immediately said, 'Well, we would love to have you guys back, and I am sorry about this ruining your experience. I have even personally taken care of your check for you.'
Can I just say, I love him. LOL. We do go there very often with my son, and just the experience of watching these hosts and hostesses completely disregarding the fact that we have a very impatient one year old ticked us off. I even noticed at one point, the hostess blew up a balloon from a machine they have sitting right there, and give it to a 20-something year old that was one her friends from the party seated way ahead of us (when they came in after us). Ok, now why would you blow up a balloon for an adult, when I was holding (or trying to) a squirming toddler for an hour?!
Argh... *breathe* I was much happier after talking to Brett. He even told us that the next time we come in, to make sure they let him know so that he can personally check on our experience. He reassured us that once the place calmed down he would talk with his hosts and hostesses and correct them. (He joked that he would have loved to do so while it was busy, but that would hve just been mean.)
Later as we were leaving, I joked with hubby that I should have told Brett to make Sean (the host that occasionally cleaned our table and seated us when he felt like it) clean up our table. LOL. With a 1 year old tossing food everywhere, that is always a treat for punishment.
Long story short: Food and waitstaff = excellent!!! Hosts and hostesses = SUCK!