Not so long ago, I was taken to Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar at the location of 3838 Elmore Avenue in Davenport, IA. I'd been there before and generally I was always more than satisfied with my overall experiences in the past... save this one.
We'd arrived and it'd been about 7ish in the evening. The parking lot had been full and the restaurant was pretty full but we were seated rather quickly for not minding sitting in the smoking section. There had been four of us... my husband (whom I was still engaged, too), my brother and my sister-in-law, and myself.
We had been directed to a table and four chairs to the right of the smoking section and we notice that there is a pile of ice under it. Before being seated, I asked if they could do something about the ice so that we wouldn't be shuffling it around with our feet. No problem. The hostess took care of it immediately. Kudos to her. I wish I'd of gotten her name.
We'd been seated and given our menus and told our server would be right with us. Cool. The first thing she or he would want to know would be what we'd like to drink... or so you'd expect.
Enter Bridgette, our server. We was going to get started, right? You would think things might get underway but no... we sat there for more than several minutes before she even came back to ask what we'd like to drink and then she walked away. Several more minutes go on by. Where's our server? Okay, I realize that the servers don't actually make the drinks themselves, so I'll cut her some slack there.
She returns with three out of four drinks... couldn't remember what the fourth one was, she had said. I reminded her of the fourth and she was about to turn away when we told her we were ready to order as well. With all the minutes ticking away, we'd plenty of time to decide what we wanted.
As we recited our order to her, we noticed she wasn't writing it down. Relying on memory, it appeared. It had failed her once already. We insisted she write it down but no, she did it her way. Among us, there had been three steaks, all different and none cooked the same. My sister-in-law had ordered some sort of fajita platter and we had an appetizer... nachos and some sort of dip.
She takes our order to the kitchen and they began to do their magic back there. Meanwhile, there had been a series of events unfolding in the smoking section.
My drink had been delivered by someone other than our server and that was fine because it showed they had a joint effort in teamwork. A great quality to have. The bartender that evening deserves kudos, also. I wish I knew who it had been so I could give credit where due.
Our server... Bridgette, returns to the smoking section with about three pitchers of soft drinks for another table and on her way, she drops one. Could've happened to anyone, right? No big deal... except my sister-in-law got a sticky shower. Not soaked, mind you. Just a fairly good dousing from the splash as it hit the floor. What I'm irritated about regarding that situation is that she offered no apology of any sort... regardless if it was or wasn't an accident. Not even so much as a towel or extra napkins. Thanks. Strike one.
As a result of the spill, ice had dumped out of the pitcher she'd dropped and was scattered all over the floor. It was probably an awkward situation as everyone saw and there were a couple of those jerks who applauded her situation. How she handled it after wasn't completely professional. Rather than sweep up the ice, she shuffled it around with her feet. That took several minutes and meanwhile, our food had been brought to us. Kudos, kitchen. Outstanding!! Apparently, Bridgette does have a pretty good memory. Okay, kudos to her for that.
As we're eating, we overhear her conversation with some of her other patrons. It had gone to the affect of her talking about her personal life and how she only makes max of $$ per hour and primarily, she was living off her tips and there is a child at home... strike two. What makes her think we want to hear a boohoo story about how bad she has it? We was customers. We... and I'm pretty sure "they" as well... were there to eat. Not to be guilted somehow into possibly leaving a better tip.
TIPs - to ensure proper service... in case you ever wondered what the word "tips" really meant. It's not a word here.. It's an abbreviation, actually. T.I.P.S.
So, we was finishing our meal and as we did, plates began to pile up. Not once did Bridgette come by to check to see if everything was satisfactory... neither did anyone else for that matter. Should've counted that as strike three but really, it was a group effort where that had been concerned.
Strike three came about when she came to our table and said this... "I'm stepping outside to have a cigarette and as you're sitting in the smoking section, I know you can appreciate how someone might need to have one"... or something of the same.
Um... excuse me? I was really irritated by that. First of all, I DON"T SMOKE!! How dare she to assume that I did. And what did she mean she was going to have a break just then? There had been ice on the floor still, tables piled with dirty plates long after the customers were gone... We bussed our own table. Wasn't introduced to anyone who might have been in a position to help keep her tables taken care of, our glasses had been empty for quite some time and we'd already mentioned we wanted a refill. What did she mean she was going to take break just then? For cryin' out loud. She was leaving us hanging.
We were finished by the time she returned and asked for our check. Several more minutes went on by and she returned without it. We reminded her we would like our check and again... gone for several more minutes. Finally she brought it to us and we were ready to pay just then. She informed us had to take care of something elsewhere but would be back in a flash. Okay. Whatever. We were still waiting.
We tried to close our bill after the first time, she was still to busy. We couldn't even get her attention. We had mentioned jokingly we were being held hostage... but the joke was over. I finally got up and went looking for someone to take care of our bill. Not one single person wanted to ring us out. I had to do it. Had to ask for the manager.
He came out and asked what he could help me with and I told him we'd been trying to get our check taken care of but nobody wanted to help. I discussed Bridgette with him and wouldn't you know it... armed with excuses.
Bridgette was their best waitress, he'd said. "Really', I had thought. 'How sad." Blah, blah, blah is all I heard after that. He offered no apology. Just took care of our bill and pretty much got rid of us.
Overall... my experience was less than average that day and as a result... everybody knows about it.
I'll go back, I will. But Bridgette WILL NOT be our server ever again even if she's the only server there. I don't want to hear their sad stories. I've got my own sad stories. This is where you might find them if I so choose to write about them.