Wednesday, November 26, 2008

PLEASE Wash Hands Before Serving Food!

For those of you who have been around long enough to remember my first post, today's post is eerily similar to that experience.

On Saturday, hubs, LO and I joined our good friends, D and H and their son C for a trip to the zoo, about an hour and a half away. The plan was to do the zoo during the day, leave around 5pm to hit a local restaurant for dinner, then return to the zoo around 6:30 or so for their "Lights Before Christmas" spectacular! All in all it was a great day, the kiddos had fun, and we got to see a lot of animals, take pictures, etc. The downside? That tiny little hour and a half that we left the zoo for dinner.

We decided to visit a nearby Applebee's that was only about a 5 minute drive from the zoo. I'm going to do a bullet-point play-by-play of this experience because, honestly, it's the easiest way I can think of to share this disastrous event.
  • We arrive and the restaurant is right close to EMPTY. The hostess--who couldn't be more than 12 years old--doesn't even look in our direction when she says, "Welcome to Applebee's. How many?" I respond by telling her we have 4 adults and will need 2 highchairs. She gets another 12-year-old to come over for assistance with this seemingly difficult task and the two of them pour over the seating chart (in an empty restaurant, mind you) for what could not have been less than 7 minutes. We all sat down at the entrance and waited. It was like an act of congress to find us a table. They asked if we wanted a table or booth... I'm sorry, did you not hear that we'd need 2 highchairs? Where would you put 2 highchairs at a booth?? So we opted for a table.
  • They took us to a tiny table, with one side of it against a wall, so we had 3 sides to fit 6 people. Genius. Oh, and the table was located at the intersection of A) the bathrooms, B) the computer/register thingy the wait staff uses, C) the kitchen and D) the carryout order entrance. Two people almost knocked me over while I was getting LO's highchair ready. Then hubs took LO and H took C to the bathrooms to change diapers. D and I were getting situated when literally 2 different waiters stopped by and tried to take one of our chairs. "We have FOUR MORE PEOPLE joining us!" I snapped both times. A waitress came by to take our drink orders and I said (pointing to the empty chair next to me), "We'll have 2 waters." She walked away!! I stared at D and said, "I guess you and H can share our waters with us!" Unbelievable. After about 3 more people tripped on one of the highchairs at the end of our table, D got up and went to tell the hostess to move us--this table wasn't gonna work. I picked up all of our menus, waters, silverware, highchairs, etc. and moved them to our new table (the same size as the current one, but in a slightly better location and pulled away from the wall so we had all 4 sides to work with).
  • Hubs, LO, H and C returned from the bathrooms and we all got situated. Hubs and D both mentioned that one of the waiters had gone into the men's room, was in there for awhile (gross!), and LEFT WITHOUT WASHING HIS HANDS!!!! I was disgusted.
  • The waitress came by to take our orders. H asked what comes on the salad (she's also a vegetarian) and when bacon wasn't listed, she ordered her salad, her husband D ordered his meal, then the waitress came to hubs and I. I asked how much a side item was, she said it depended on which one you order. I said I was going to order 3 different ones (since I don't eat meat entrees anymore) and she said she'd have to go find out. Rather than delay putting our order in, I just ordered my mashed potatoes and steamed veggies and some fries (for LO). Hubs wanted an appetizer sampler. He asked to substitute one of the items and she said he couldn't. I piped in and asked, "He can't change out the spinach dip for cheese queso??" To which she responded, "Oh, sure, you can do that." Alrighty then! So our order was finally in. Whew!
  • H's salad comes out--covered in bacon. She had to send it back. They brought another one out later but didn't bring the extra plate she had requested. She asked for it again. It never came.
  • Literally 45 minutes after we ordered (you know, back before the restaurant started to fill up with customers), they FINALLY brought D and H's food. Hubs and I just waited until they finally brought ours out several minutes later. As soon as the waiter left from dropping off my food, hubs said, "You are NOT eating any of those potatoes on the right side of your plate. The guy that was in the bathroom that didn't wash his hands brought those out and his thumb was IN YOUR POTATOES. Sure enough, there was a freakin' THUMB PRINT plain as day in my potatoes. My steamed veggies? COLD. Hubs' appetizer sampler? COLD. The cheese queso had a nasty film over the top and it was obvious that platter had been sitting out for at least 10 minutes before it was brought out. We were NOT having a good dining experience.
  • The waitress came over to ask if there was anything we needed... Hubs was obviously QUITE irritated but told her he wasn't going to deal with her about it; he'd talk to a manager before we leave. So what did she do? Send the manager over. He asked what the problem was. Again, hubs wasn't going to get into it with him at this point (we were still hoping to salvage our meal and NOT embarrass our friends D and H). I simply mentioned the cold veggies and the guy got incredibly defensive! He said, "I'm not trying to argue with you ma'am... blah, blah, blah." So he took the veggies and was going to bring me a new order.
  • A few minutes go by. I hand LO a celery stick I pulled from hubs' sampler. I glance at her a few seconds later and immediately pull that celery stick out of her hand. YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!!! There was a HAIR on the celery stick!!!!! Hubs looked as though he threw up in his mouth, then immediately grabbed the appetizer platter, my plate of potatoes (which I had already decided NOT to eat for obvious reasons) and went storming over to the bar where the manager was standing. Luckily I had my back to the bar so I couldn't see the "scene" hubs was making. I was actually quite proud of him though. Normally I want to hide under the table when he gets into that "mode" but this time he handled the situation VERY well, especially considering everything we'd just been through.
  • The manager of course comped our meals (really? seriously? we didn't even eat a single bite!!!!!), and while D and H finished their dinners (somehow theirs managed to come out just fine), hubs and I left and headed to the Wendy's drive-thru before heading back to the zoo to meet our friends for the lights show.
As you can imagine, it was NOT a good dining experience. I know for SURE we will NEVER be back at that particular restaurant; but now I'm afraid to ever eat in ANY Applebee's establishment. I mean, is not washing hands part of their wait staff training program? ((gag)) I don't know if hubs and I have a huge bullseye on each of our heads or what, but we seem to have experiences like this on an almost DAILY basis in one form or another. I seriously cannot believe how bad "customer service" has become these days. It's atrocious. I'd much rather stay in and cook food for my family that I know is safe and delicious!