Social Question

jca's avatar

Should I tell the story on TripAdvisor as it happened, or should I clean it up because the owner of the restaurant rectified the situation?

Asked by jca (36043points) July 24th, 2015

Last night, I attended a retirement party at a local restaurant. The food was buffet, there were table settings and there were about 40 guests. Time was dinner time. When I saw the first guests in line with their food, they had little tiny plates (6 inch bread plates). I asked them if there are bigger plates, they said no, and they asked one of the women that worked there and she “yelled at them” that this is the only size plate they can have for this event.

I asked a male waiter to get me a big plate, and he obliged.

I asked my friends who the lady was that refused to give them the big plate, and they pointed her out to me. I went up to her and asked if we could have bigger plates. She gave me a hard time (This is the size plate for this party, people are supposed to eat and mingle, etc.) and I asked for her name. She told me her name and that she was the owner. I told her I write reviews on TripAdvisor. Long story short, she agreed to give us bigger plates, but not before a hard time, and not before I mentioned TripAdvisor.

Everyone was very happy and saying they should “thank jca for the big plates.”

When writing my review, should I mention the whole story with the plates, or should I skip that and just talk about the food, service and location, since she did rectify the situation? Should people know that if they have a party at that restaurant, they may get a hard time about something like plate size?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

26 Answers

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I think you should be honest and describe the entire experience. Glossing over her rude manner could lead other patrons to except that kind of behavior. Some peeps won’t stand up for themselves without someone to lead the way.

sahID's avatar

Because she did rectify the plate size issue to everyone’s satisfaction, my inclination would be to focus on the location, the suitability for large groups, and especially the food (quality, flavor, presentation, etc). It makes sense to me to point out the need for large groups to address the plate or bowl sizes they really want ahead of time.

Here2_4's avatar

You don’t want to lessen your credibility, so leaving out an unpleasant bit of business which seems to be routine for them could be a bad mark for you. On the other hand, you don’t have to be completely descriptive either. You could lighten it with something to the effect of, “There was an issue initially with the dinner service. It was resolved by the owner after some inquiry.”

Here2_4's avatar

Upon further reflection, I am thinking that perhaps whoever engaged her for the party hoped to keep expenses down by requesting the small plates hoping it would keep guests to a smaller portion.

dxs's avatar

She shouldn’t have acted how you described, but I’m frustrated that people like you are given so much power by these nasty review sites. Most of the people writing the reviews there have no idea what it is like being on the other side. And now based on your description, it seems as though you’ve turned it into a threat to the workers. “Excuse me, ma’am, but I write for TripAdvisor, so if you don’t give me a foot rub and a free dessert, I’m giving you a one star rating and saying you have cockroaches in your kitchen.”

How about you write a letter to them talking about what happened and suggest they give the option of serving bigger plates instead. Leave your information so they can contact you back.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Here2_4 I hadn’t thought of that angle. Maybe jca could check with the organizer. But on the other hand when I go out the service is very important to me. I can remember taking my mother out for mother’s day one year. The server was rude and obnoxious. I can’t remember the food, but I remember her attitude.

DoNotKnow's avatar

Maybe you could briefly mention that they were not as accommodating to special requests as you had hoped, and describe that you requested larger plates and they initially refused. If I saw this in the review, I wouldn’t hesitate to visit the restaurant. But if I were specifically going there to make special requests, I might call ahead first to make sure they would work with me.

In general, I find that reviewing the restaurant experience as designed by the restaurant is the most important to me (I do Yelp reviews). If I ever ask for something special or to swap something out, etc, I will note this as an afterthought. For many of us, this type of thing is irrelevant to the restaurant review, but to others it is critical.

Judi's avatar

Tell the whole story.

ibstubro's avatar

I attended a Christmas party buffet put on by the owner of an antique mall where I have a booth. They totally ran out of food, and refused to bring more. Everyone was upset and mad at the restaurant.

Turns out the mall owner had specified and paid for X amount of food. Not enough for everyone to get even 1 pass at it. She eventually agreed to more food, but at that point the kitchen had to start preparing it. What a fiasco, and I bet the restaurant saw it coming – recommended 2–3x the amount of food.

I would say the brunt of the blame is likely on the person that organized the event. Dinner-time buffet with cocktail-hour buffet. Likely the owner saw it coming and was put in the position of holding the line on the small plates, or running out of (paid for) food – the cardinal sin in the restaurant world. Highly likely that the event was already paid for and you were filling your large plate on the restaurant’s dime.

It was a special event, in any case, and I wouldn’t feel bound to file any review unless that’s the restaurant’s specialty. I suggest a normal dining experience and review of the restaurant. Your bad experience can color that, if need be.

Kardamom's avatar

Tell the whole story, then give your own opinion as to why this may have happened. Then give some suggestions to people on how to avoid this problem in the future.

jca's avatar

@Kardamom: Give my opinion as to why the owner was stubborn about the bread plates or about why she changed her tune when I mentioned Trip Advisor?

ibstubro's avatar

Wasn’t the organizer of the party there? If so, why were they not the one to request larger plates?

My bet is that the organizer had agreed in advance to the 6” plate, and that was what was paid for. If unlimited dinner buffet had been arranged – which is essentially what you demanded – there would be no reason for the restaurant owner to withhold dinner plates.

Having worked in a lot of restaurants as chef and kitchen manager , my guess is that the event was pre-paid and the restaurant lost hundreds of dollars in acceding to your demand. If the catering cost difference between providing a 6” plate and a 10–12” plate was $10 (not an unreasonable, possibly conservative figure), then the restaurant has already lost $400 that they have no way to recoup.

Someone arranged the buffet in advance and contracted a buffet with a 6” plate. The restaurant was simply trying to uphold their end of the contract.

Or was it ‘dutch treat’? Did you demand a check at the and? If so, I would be incensed at being given a 6“plate!

By all means, find out the whole story of what happened and report it on Trip Adviser.

jca's avatar

@ibstubro: The organizer of the event was there. She is a very sweet girl and she was also very busy mingling, drinking.

We paid $30 each to attend. No drinks included – appetizer-type food, coffee and cake included.

I was talking about it last night to a good friend, and she pointed out that buffets have smaller plates. I told her yes, buffets have appetizer plates (smaller than a dinner plate) but these plates were bread plates – tiny plates that hold a dinner roll. She suggested I write about the plate issue on TA and just point out that if someone uses that restaurant for catering, they clarify plate size ahead of time.

Kardamom's avatar

@jca I would give your opinion as to why you think they were offering the small plates and not the big plates. I think we all know why the woman relented after you told her you were writing a review, which I think was a good idea on your part.

You don’t even need to say it in an aggressive sounding way. Just say something like, “I thought it was odd, that with a buffet the restaurant was only offering tiny bread plates, instead of regular sized dinner plates. If you plan to have your event catered at this restaurant, you might consider discussing this situation with the staff, ahead of time, to avoid any problems.”

I’m going to Souplantation for dinner tonight. I hope they have some big plates : P

Buttonstc's avatar

I would suggest that you definitely tell the whole story.

If each of you paid $30 apiece, I don’t see how on earth the restaurant could have lost money regardless of how large the plates were.

I’ve been to lots of different buffet-type restaurants both Asian and the Old Country Buffet types and NEVER had to pay $30 for even a full DINNER buffet (roast beef, Salmon, etc) which included soft drinks and a full range of desserts.

If you guys were only getting appetizer type foods and dessert, there is no conceivable way that they were losing money. And IMHO, providing ONLY small bread plates was totally ridiculous and inexcusable.

Appetizer type foods is what was agreed upon and should have included, at the very least, appetizer size plates.

They were just being incredibly cheap and small minded to refuse decent size plates. RIDICULOUS.

Buttonstc's avatar

@dxs

She wasn’t requesting something outrageous (like your ridiculous hyperbolic example of a foot rub).

She was merely requesting something more appropriate than a tiny plate suitable for a roll and pat of butter.

And for $30 per head, that’s totally reasonable.

How much did you pay the last time you were at a buffet restaurant? I bet it was quite a bit less than $30.

I think it’s to the owner’s shame that she wouldn’t accede to a polite request but only capitulated after jca mentioned Trip Advisor.

She knew she was being a skinflint about the issue (in spite of being more than fairly compensated monetarily) because if she felt her policy was fair she would have stuck to her guns and not given in.

But she full well knew that tiny bread plates were ridiculous and if the general public was aware of it ahead of time they would likely be looking to book someplace else. And rightfully so.

She knew she was being ridiculous and someone called her bluff on the “policy”. Jca was NOT “threatening” just a worker who did not have the authority to change policy. She was dealing with the owner. That’s a critical difference.

Kardamom's avatar

@Buttonstc You are correct on all accounts. I’ve been to many buffets. The fanciest buffet that we have out here is in one of the casinos. It’s top notch, with super high quality food, with at least 200 choices. It’s $25 and they give you regular dinner sized plates.

If the restaurant in question didn’t want people eating too much food, they should not have offered a “buffet style” dinner. It should have been portioned out onto plates the way you might get if you had ordered off a menu.

@jca‘s request was completely reasonable. The only reason the owner relented, was because she didn’t want to end up looking like a cheapskate in the review. Unfortunately, she’s going to anyway, if jca writes the review in it’s totality, which I think she should. The owner should have just said something like, “Oh yes, Ma’am, let me get some of the other plates.” If the restaurant had to take a financial hit for doing that, then that’s too bad for them. It was their bad planning that created the problem and made them look foolish. Now, because of what jca said, the owner has the option of switching to pre-sized menu items only, or to bring out the bigger plates in the first place, or to charge more for the buffet food if she thinks that is necessary.

Buttonstc's avatar

You’re right. And if she switches to pre-sized appetizer items only instead of buffet and STILL charges $30, then her gouging will be obvious. That’s a price you charge for dinner.

She’s just way out of line with her prices and policies and I think she should have to deal with the market realities of that.

People will gladly pay for food quality, good service and reasonable portions. But they won’t be returning if they feel they’re getting price gouged.

BTW. I think that the casino, in all likelihood, is using their buffet as a loss leader because they make tons of money from the gambling. Plus it’s in their own best interest to give people an incentive to not leave their property :)

The average restaurant likely couldn’t afford to do the same. But I’ve been to Asian buffets which included those gigantic crab legs (and even stone crab claws) and I’ve wondered how they can afford that. Maybe they have terrific wholesalers.

But they usualy make plenty on me because I just can’t stuff gigantic amounts of food into my stomach all at once :) So I only go if I’m with friends who prefer one of these places over a regular restaurant.

But we have a great diner near us which makes almost everything from scratch and has decent prices. Where else can you get calves liver cooked to order nowadays ? Old time diners are a vanishing breed, sadly.

dxs's avatar

@Buttonstc I also think it was ridiculous that they couldn’t give out larger plates, but that doesn’t relate to what I was trying to get at. Who knows what was going on in the manager’s world anyway. My response was the way it was to get my point across and show my frustration about online reviewing. @jca and the others at the party wanted something changed, and there are many ways of approaching it. Threatening is mean. I mean, it was at least a passive threat.

jca's avatar

@dxs: She (the owner) was resistant until I mentioned TripAdvisor. If you know of another way I might have been successful at getting her to bring out bigger plates, I’m interested in hearing it.

Buttonstc's avatar

“Who knows what was going on in the managers world”

At the risk of repeating myself, this was not a manager (an employee who may or may not know the details of real food costs). She identified herself as THE OWNER.

And again, if the owner truly felt that her per person fee/plate size was reasonable then she would have defended it, regardless of who likes it or doesn’t. But this OWNER full well knew she was being ridiculous, especially in light of $30 per head. That is steep even for a full dinner buffet. Do you honestly think that the OWNER is oblivious to that? Really? Think again.

Business OWNERS (especially in restaurants) have to cost things out beforehand if they expect to stay in business.

Plus, business owners are entitled to respond to negative reviews if they feel that FACTS germane to the issue were not accurate.

And again, you with the hyperbole, Yeesh. @jca was definitely NOT, QUOTE: “threatening her with a one-star review and there are cockroaches in your kitchen.”

She’s even conscientious enough to be debating in her mind whether to mention this flap about the ridiculously tiny plate size at all. I and others feel she definitely should and I have no doubt that she need not make up lies to do so.

The unvarnished truth is more than enough.

You are reacting to the (possible) lies and exaggerations that you have probably witnessed other reviewers and sites doing.

How about looking at the FACTS which @jca has outlined and stop trying to hang her over the (possible) misbehaviors of other people and sites.

And I disagree that reputable sites such as Trip Advisor and Zagats have too much power. (I think that reviewers for newspapers and magazines have too much power, especially the larger ones and the clout they have. In these cases, it sometimes only takes ONLY ONE negative review to sink a business.

But reputable review sites with LOTS AND LOTS of participants are a democracy and it takes a consensus of opinions to have any significant effect. One pissed off person exaggerating things (cockroaches in the kitchen) will be far outweighed by the multitude who will stick up for the business if it’s worth defending.

But, it’s plain that in this case, the owner caved because she full well knew that she didn’t have a leg to stand on in light of her price gouging, ridiculous tiny plate size and CRAPPY ATTITUDE.

if I get a surly waitperson in a restaurant, I don’t even bother mentioning it because they dont represent the totality of that restaurants policy.

But if I get a surly OWNER, that’s going in for sure because they DEFINITELY DO represent their establishment.

I’m assuming that most people are like me and form their decision on whether to patronize a restaurant by whether a clear majority of the reviews have positive things to say. And I don’t think that these review sites have too much power. I think they have just the right amount of power.

One negative review will stick out like a sore thumb and likely be disregarded.

But I’d be willing to bet that @jca is not the only person commenting upon the owner yelling at her customers for merely requesting something other than tiny plates at a buffet. And I’m also sure that there will be many other reviews complaining about charging high-end dinner buffet prices for appetizers only.

The owners attitude is based upon opinion. The plate size and $30 charge for appetizers only is plain unvarnished FACT. No lies are necessary at all.

BTW. Are you aware of the fact that several lawsuits by owners against reviewers defaming them have been won by the business owner. Do you know why? Because they (the reviewers) were totally misrepresenting things which were easily disproven by FACT.

IF a reviewer claims cockroaches in the kitchen to beef up their negative review there had damn well be cockroaches in the kitchen.

If there are none and someone threatens the owner with that, they know it’s an empty threat.

@jca did not “threaten” the owner. She merely let her know that others would now be made aware of both her tiny plate size and crappy attitude, neither of which is defensible. If one has TRUTH on their side they have no need to threaten anything. They merely need to shine a light on the facts. Period.

Judi's avatar

Is there a chance that the event organizer negotiated a lower price and the sponsor of the event kept the overage? I know that I was involved in a trade association and we usually charged a few dollars more than the meal cost. Maybe someone negotiated for Hors-d’oeuvres but charged for dinner?

Buttonstc's avatar

@Judi

I’m not quite understanding what you mean by sponsor.

She said this was a retirement party, so i’m assuming an employee of the company where they all work was the organizer and thus chose the location and agreed to the price. Who then would the “sponsor” be?

jca's avatar

To me, the tiniest plate (dinner roll sized plate) for what is a buffet, even if just an appetizer buffet, is inadequate. Even if, as the owner first stated, “people are supposed to mingle,” a tiny plate is inadquate. Place settings were on the tables, too, which doesn’t coincide with people mingling.

When I look at the restaurant’s website, the cost is 27 bucks for appetizer party, with no mention of plate size. I did check their site after this occurred because I found the whole thing both baffling and annoying. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t mistaken about what I experienced and to try to be fair to the restaurant, I wanted to see what their catering specified.

Judi's avatar

@Buttonstc, sorry, I must have missed that or forgot. Although, I worked for a place where one woman was collecting money to make a cake for a retirement party and we later found out she paid a “tithe” to her pastors wife out of the money.

ibstubro's avatar

Appetizer party plates seem to have a standard of about 6–7”.

Dinner is a standard of about 9”.

Answer this question

Login

or

Join

to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
or
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther