Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What I Expect at a Restaurant

Recently I had a comment come in reply to my review of Casey's Restaurant at Upper Canada Mall in Newmarket.   I've held off in publishing this comment to the post as I felt a reply was duly needed, hence this post.  Also, there should be clarification on what I'm looking for when posting a Restaurant Review on this blog and thought that the below response would also do that nicely.

So first the comment:

"you have obviously never served before... and reading your post is an absolute unreal complaint or even aspect. first off if a server is busy god forbid she drop everything for your table she has 7 others... they try and treat everyone as a guest in their own home but unfortunately there are tables much more needy then others. For you to insult a server at that and not tip... you realize they make less then 9 dollars an hour?? how about you take a step back next time pull your head from you but and realize your not the only table in the place.... ESP if they are understaffed or busy.... people like you make our job as servers so much harder. maybe try serving or realize our jobs are much harder then you think thanks to dicks like you. Iv never been to caseys but im sure as hell to go just because of your stupid complaint."

It is much more easier to reply to the comment when it is broken down into repliable bits:

"you have obviously never served before...and reading your post is an absolute unreal complaint or even aspect. "

Very true, I've never been a waiter in a restauarant before.  But I've had a lot of experience being a restuarant customer throughout southern Ontario, New York City, Vancouver and Las Vegas.  I've watched  many a server do their jobs.

"first off if a server is busy god forbid she drop everything for your table she has 7 others... they try and treat everyone as a guest in their own home but unfortunately there are tables much more needy then others."

No, I'm not expecting the server to drop everything and serve me.  I do have patience.  Where I get a little irritated is when I've duly requested my bill and she has served the other table with 8 people on two occassions before dropping off my bill.  At this particular restaurant, as stated in the review, she spent an large amount of time serving them:

"We watched our waitress first take the drink orders of a new large group (8 or so people) seated near us. Then come back with their drink order and return to take the order. A brief stare from myself as she was taking orders brought an apology that our bill was coming. The waitress dissapeared soon after taking the order."

It took at least 3 minutes for her to stop by and take their drink order and dissappear.  Another three for her to pull the drinks together and return to drop them off.  Then she could have easily excused her self by saying "I will be right back in 2 minutes to take your food order, I'm just going to drop off the bill to that table over there" and done that before scooting back over to the table to take the order.  All I was basically asking was to get the bill in a reasonable amount of time.  At a restaurant like Casey's where there was a host at the front and a couple of other servers around who could have helped, I wasn't asking for rocket science.


"For you to insult a server at that and not tip... you realize they make less then 9 dollars an hour?? how about you take a step back next time pull your head from you but and realize your not the only table in the place...."

Again, I realize I'm not the only table at this place.  However, when I visit a restauarant like Casey's I'm also paying for decent, not necessarily the best, service.  Thus, I could care less as to what the waiter/waitress is making.  That is a contract between the restaurant owners/managers and the server themselves.  As a customer I could care less what the serving staff is making in wages, here is what I'm looking for:

1. Decent timely service with a smile when taking the order, bringing the food out and attending our table to ensure our meal is satisfactory.

2. Decent tasting food that is not over or undercooked. 

3. I do appreciate value for money.

4. Timely presentation of the bill when requested (i.e. it shouldn't take 10 minutes to figure out how much a customer owes the restauarant).

5. Clean amenities (e.g. entrance, bathrooms, floors, etc.)

For all of the above I ensure I tip.  However, if I get irritated with some or all of the above (i.e. at Casey's Sweet Potato fries that taste like cardboard and 10 minutes to even present the bill), I do leave less to no tip.  I feel good service from serving and support staff should be rewarded, but bad service should not be encouraged.  Hence the tip I choose to leave will reflect this. 

"ESP if they are understaffed or busy.... people like you make our job as servers so much harder. maybe try serving or realize our jobs are much harder then you think thanks to dicks like you.".

I attended Casey's on a Saturday evening.  Most restaurants in that area of similar value (e.g. Swiss Chalet, Boston Pizza, etc.) are normally lined up out the door.  So Casey's would not be understaffed for this evening as customer volume is expected to be higher on Friday and Saturday nights throughout the year.  I would expect more customers on those nights in comparison to a Tuesday evening.  Thus, the staffing should reflect the need for more service due to more customers. 

If a restaurant on a Saturday is so run off it's feet because it is understaffed this is a reflection on poor management and the workers should be complaining about it as the tips will obviously be lower. This is because people are less likely to tip and return to a restaurant if they receive rushed poor service. 

A server's job isn't easy, I fully admit it.  But a customer has the right to expect a certain level of service, food and atmosphere.  This is after all what a customer pays for and tips.  So if a server wants that tip, they had better show a decent effort for it.  As for the waitress at Casey's, she seemed more interested in the tip from the table of eight than she did in finishing up a decent experience with us. 

"Iv never been to caseys but im sure as hell to go just because of your stupid complaint."


Congratulations! I hope you get/had better service than we did. 
 
So hopefully that clears everything up in terms of what I expect at a restauarant. I've nearly seen everything from the great (Swiss Chalet service) to the worst (also Swiss Chalet) and everything in between.  My wife and I obviously provide repeat business to places we like (Jonathan's Fine Foods in Aurora) and rarely return to places we have had issues with (recently at London Pub).  However, we do allow places to improve by returning in six months to a year to a place with a bad review.  We also return to a place we can't decide if we had a mediocre time (i.e. can't figure if we like the place or not) to give it another try.
 
Bottom line, if you want our business you have to give us a good time and decent food.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

What's Going on at Yonge & Tyler?

Did you ever drive by a place and wonder what is going on inside?

Did you ever drive by a church and wonder what the people in side are up to? What draws them there?  What they believe in?  

Recently Aurora United Church released a video outlining some of the different groups and asked people what draws them to the building on a regular basis.  People of all ages responded and gave their thoughts and insights and this video resulted:


Sunday, November 07, 2010

How to Improve YRT/VIVA: Part 2: A Success Story

This past Friday I left work on time and started walking along the route of the TTC 107B Keele North Route that YRT contracts the TTC to do through the southern end of York Region.  As I rounded the bend in the road, I noticed a YRT Supervisor sitting in his vehicle with a clipboard in his lap. 

I inquired if the bus I was looking for had gone by yet. 

His answer was "Yes" four minutes before the scheduled time.  I did a double take and hung my head.  It looked like it was going to be the usual walk up to Rutherford Road to catch the next bus on my commute home. 

The YRT Supervisor signalled to hop into his vehicle and offered to drive me to Rutherford Road.  I hopped in and off we went.   But before doing so he promised to talk to the TTC Supervisor for the TTC 107B on Monday about the earlyniss of the bus and the fact there was no excuse to be that early. He dropped me off and swung around to talk to the TTC driver who was waiting at the end of the route to turn around and head back south.

YRT, after a year of complaints from myself (including to the Mayor and Regional Councillor of Aurora at the time, Phyllis Morris) with very little to show for it results, is finally listening to it's riders on this route.  Often the TTC 107B is either really early or late in comparison to the posted schedule along the northern sections of its routing.  Since YRT pays the TTC under contract, YRT should be investigating this end of the route a little better than it has.  However, they have been a little better than the TTC.

When a complaint is filed with the TTC, the call centre contact takes the message and nothing is done, not even a call back to say they are investigating or whether any changes are going to be made.  

To make matters worse the schedule in the two years I've taken the route has never been fully revised.  Contrast this to the Route 85 which has had it's schedule changed at least three times in past two years.

For a little while I was quiet on this route. I figured since YRT basically refused to take action after complaints through YRT Customer Service and inquires from a Regional Councillor, Phyllis Morris, that there was no hope.  But a couple of weeks ago I was miffed that I saw at TTC 107B bus go roaring past me as I was crossing the street to the bus stop.  The bus was at least five minutes early.  So, with a walk ahead of me, I called on my cell phone to relay my anger to the YRT Customer Service line. 

Funny enough, a week later I had again lost hope.  There was no call back from YRT Supervisors or the TTC on the issue.  I called, the Friday before voting day, again letting my displeasure be heard.  On Monday I got a call from a YRT Supervisor who promised some follow up on the route.  He promised that periodically there would be a YRT Supervisor monitoring the route for schedule adherence.  The results that I've seen from one day show the bus is anywhere five minutes early to seven minutes late.  Out of seven buses headed northbound there were only one really on time (at plus 1 minute up) while there were three late (3 to seven minutes late) and three way ahead of time that they should have stopped to let the clock catch up to them on the schedule.   So obviously some supervision to ensure schedule adherence is required.

Hopefully with YRT Supervisors reporting the issues to the TTC the route will improve. This will come one of two ways:

1. Either the TTC will improve the service by better monitoring of the route drivers to ensure schedule adherence (i.e. having the bus hold at a stop to ensure it is not ahead of schedule). Also, hopefully the TTC will revisit adjust the schedule to better reflect actual travel times and make more timely revisions to the schedule on this route.

2. If the TTC fails to do this, perhaps YRT can take over the route at least in York Region and fix the problem themselves.  Although rumour has it that YRT doesn't have enough vehicles to replace the TTC vehicles on this route and others like it.  But perhaps in the future as YRT grows and purchases more buses that this issue will change.  

For now there is at least some success in getting YRT to pay attention to this route they contract from the TTC.  As a taxpayer and rider of YRT, I expect YRT to watch to better watch their contractors, even if it is the TTC who should be running a similar operation in the first place.   At least now YRT has taken notice and has so far refused to slough off the issue as a "TTC issue".   I look forward to improvements on this route in the future as a follow up on this first success.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Halloween Candy

Sometimes I'm left wondering what is going on in the world these days.   Halloween night was one of those days.  My wife and I dutifully bought one hundred pieces of candy and waited to see how Halloween night would turn out.    I had previously done a little observation of the local neighbourhood and watched kids come and go from the houses. 

But to my chagrin, things started at 6:45 P.M. with kids running next door to us for Tricker Treating.  Then the kids would run by our door and up the street skipping a bunch of houses.  The next group did the same thing.

 I studied this whole phenomenon by going for a walk around the block.  I noted the kids travelled in groups up and down the street hitting houses they seemed to know and skipping ours.  I also noted that barely one in four houses had their lights on and were accepting Trick or Treaters. The kids seemed to be all clumped with a few parents tailing in behind.  

At 7:20 P.M. we turned our lights out a little dejected.  What a difference a year makes.  Last year at my parents house in Aurora things were pretty much like they were in previous years.  If you had your porch light on and your place lit up, not necessarily with pumpkins, you would have forty to fifty kids show up looking for some loot.

Fast forward a year and instead of handing out candy to the kiddies in costume, I'm at home watching The West Wing on DVD while eating the overpriced Halloween candy I purchased.   Overpriced candy?  My wife says it is because as of November 1st the price for the Halloween candy drops in price big time for some reason.  

Well at least I've learned something for next year.  Enjoy a nice quiet evening at home or if I wish to see some fancy costumes, head to my parents place in Aurora.

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