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Sunday, November 10, 2013

when keeping austin weird gets weird

Like so many who are drawn to the area, we like to do our share to Keep Austin Weird, as the city motto goes.  And that means spending what few entertainment dollars our budget allows at locally owned businesses.  Not that this is such a sacrifice.  There aren't too many big chains we like very much anyway.  

Still, it was with high hopes that my husband and I, along with our three teenagers, ventured to a new, locally owned restaurant.  Close to our house, cool atmosphere, beer garden-esque, and serving Tex-Mex and hamburgers, our two most favorite palate pleasers, what could go wrong?

Not much at first.  The burgers were tasty, the fries were our favorite kind (battered and crunchy) and, bonus, a live band was playing some authentic Austin blues. Greatness of life, we thought.  We've found our new Friday night hangout. Minutes after declaring just that, a shocking encounter with the manager left us declaring we would absolutely never go back.

After nearly finishing our meal, the server approached our table, You know there is a $2 cover, per person, for the band.  

Uhh, no? No  cover charge posted anywhere. Server replied that a notice about cover charge was on the menu.  Asked to see the not terribly congenial manager.  You want to see me?  He reeked of irritation.   

Long story short, and more irritable words from the manager, he insisted we pay. No apology. We calmly but uncomfortably informed him we liked the music very much but we planned to put $5 in the tip jar, and sorry, curmudgeonly manager, that was our final offer.  

Truthfully, if we had known about a cover charge, we wouldn't have gone in.  Not with our kids in tow.  They didn't have any interest in the music (old-geazer band) and I would have preferred engaging with our kids. If it were just Sam and I, we would have complained but paid the cover. In any event, has anyone been to a restaurant where kids are charged a cover?  Or am I out of touch?

But back to the story:  Curmudgeonly Manager said he would send someone to collect the $5 tip. Uh no, we will put the $5 in the tip jar ourselves , thank-you-very-much.   CM:  So you're saying the band is not worth $2 !!   

We asked to see the menu to verify cover charge notice. After huffing away, CM never produced it. 

In the end, we left a decent tip for the unfriendly server and left the band its tip.  And left feeling disappointed as could be. 

Were we out of line balking?  Do we give the place a second chance?  I mean, I liked the food, location, outdoor setting with cooling fans and a subtle air mist system. Liked that it's locally owned.  Liked everything but the unposted cover and the unyielding, insulting CM.  

I feel the need to add that this is the first time I've ever had a bad encounter with restaurant management. I rarely complain, often eating mistakes rather than cause a scene.  Sam and I are easy that way.  

So what say ye, readers?  Would you go back? In cognito or otherwise? 

12 comments:

Coffeypot said...

I not only would have paid the $2.00 cover charge but I would not have left anyone a tip. Then I would call or write the owner and tell him he as lost business for ever. It's not like they are the only place in the area. He has never heard of competition. Food is mostly food so he must be competitive with service. Plus the server should have told you before taking an order. Tell them to call the cops.

hokgardner said...

Cover charge should be communicated in advance, by the person seating customers. To hit you up at the end of the meal is wrong. I don't think I'd go back.

Red Shoes said...

I don't think you were out of line...

I agree with what was said above...

I ran into this once at a local eatery... I told them that I didn't come to hear the music, and that I would actually find it annoying... I told them that I would leave as soon as I finished eating.

~shoes~

Red Shoes said...

PS: That said, I love Austin!

~shoes~

ADoC said...

I agree with letting the owner know... less about the cover charge (as he/she probably is already aware) but more about how staff is treating customers. That will make or break a place. I'd still go back, give it another chance... you liked everything but the CM, maybe the next waiter will be better.

cookingwithgas said...

I love my mother- but.....

Recently we have been to a few places that have given me pause.
In that the overpriced burger was not cooked well and when the manager stopped in at our table we told him. His excuse was to tell us they use local beef and the patties are hand formed-- so that means that one side is overcooked while the other side is RAW. Okay...
I buy local beef and use it out of the freezer, I don't have this problem. We will not go back.

Lunch out- waitress, who should be in another line of business forgot my beer, put in the wrong side for me, when I asked they were going to put in the other side and forgot. When they remembered I told them don't bring it or the beer.
They did take off a beer for hubby off the tab I will go back here because usually they are really good and the food is great.
BUT- I do not want Miss. Kitty to wait on me.
Now- you were right and they were wrong. Plain and simple.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Wow. That's crap. I would have balked, too. You need to be upfront about that kind of charge. And I'm guessing there are enough other cool places to go that you never need to bother heading back THERE again! I've gotten fussy with my patronage--once and done for me, unless I've experienced a lot of good history with a place. Then I'm more patient and forgiving with the occasional lapse in service or quality of product/food.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Wow. That's crap. I would have balked, too. You need to be upfront about that kind of charge. And I'm guessing there are enough other cool places to go that you never need to bother heading back THERE again! I've gotten fussy with my patronage--once and done for me, unless I've experienced a lot of good history with a place. Then I'm more patient and forgiving with the occasional lapse in service or quality of product/food.

Susan said...

Wow. I have never heard of such a thing - especially at dinner - maybe after 9pm when it is switching over to entertainment from dinner...

This is a new place and they already have negative attitudes? I don't give them much chance of success.

I would register my complaint in plain terms to ownership and unless I received a civil response I would not return. Plus I would complain on Yelp and save others the extortion attempt.

slow panic said...

i wouldn't go back. i have a hard time getting past bad/rude management.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Rude is not something for which anyone wants to pay.

Heather said...

Greetings! I was just hoping you would be able to answer my question about your blog! I'm Heather and if you could email me at Lifesabanquet1(at)gmail(dot)com that would be great!