dear mr. bennett
Bill Bennett, CPT, IBNFC, Vice President of
FITNESS TOGETHER, posted this review on Tripadvisor of the Flaming Buoy Filet Co. in Key West, Florida:
To the owners of Flaming Bouy
We decided to try your restaurant on a recommendation from our B&B, on Tuesday, August 12, 2014. We had a party of 7. Arrived on time and was greeted by Scott and seated promptly. Our waiter, Christopher started out well but seemed hurried. He told us of the specials. No offer to take our drink orders. When I motioned to Christopher that we would like some drinks he said the menu was on the table. When he returned to take our drink orders I couldn’t remember which wine I wanted so I asked one of the other guys in our party to see the menu and Christopher apparently was to impatient to wait for me to tell him and skipped me. I then ordered nothing after that. He brought soft drinks to the table and brought glasses with no ice or stews and we had to ask for them.
At this point I order only a small caesar salad as my appetite had been ruined by the rude attention from the wait staff. The food arrived. No problem with that. Christopher came back and asked what our impressions were and we told him that first impressions were bad. He made a sarcastic comment and walked away. After discussing the poor service we were receiving my partner had to say something.
Both of us being from the service industry realize that if people leave without pointing out inadequacies in your business you can never make improvements. Christopher and Scott laughed at my partner when he attempted to let them know. They actually argued with him. At one point, Christopher started calling my partner sweetheart, princess and told him to go back to Miami. (Racist comment which was unbelievable and my partner was Latino but not from Miami) As you probably know, even if the customer is wrong you never argue with them. You attempt to resolve the matter and make them happy.
I had to approach Christopher and Scott and they both were not concerned with our comments at all. We have never experienced service this type in any of our travels and were flabbergasted. Scott told us to leave and not worry about paying.
I hope that the owners see this email as we have posted Trip Advisor reviews as well and we are sure that you do not want to have this treatment of customers continue.
If you chose to respond that would appreciated. We will inform the management at our B & B of our experience and not refer future guests to your restaurant.
This Was Our Response:
Dear Mr. Bennett
Your reservation was for 6:30. We never take reservations for 7:00, much less 7:13, the time at which you finally arrived for your table. I called Alexander's Guest House at 6:55 and 6:57, respectively, to make sure we had the correct reservation time. I didn't leave a message either time, but a quick check of Alexander's caller ID will confirm this. If not, my phone will. (I was later made to understand that this was during happy hour and the staff was occupied with pouring free cocktails for you.) Indeed, the one and only reason we sat your party was as a courtesy to Alexander's Guest House. As a rule, we allow 15 minutes for a table to be late and we cancel the reservation. Therefore were you promptly sat.
I have one guest who is allowed to arrive for his reservation regardless of when it was made. His name is Gandalf. He's a wizard. A wizard is never late, nor is he early, he arrives precisely when he means to. Are you a wizard? Here's how to the difference: When you perform a simple task, say, for example, tying your shoes, do people say that it was magical? or do they say it was a miracle that you could do that. If the answer is the former, then you're a wizard and I apologize. If the answer is the latter, I would like to introduce you to velcro.
You may not have attempted counting, but we have only ten tables in our restaurant, of which your party occupied a .333 from a third. That means nearly one third of our guests that were expecting tables at 8:30 (we were completely booked for the rest of the evening, by the way) would now have to wait an extra 45 minutes. Something I was not looking forward to explaining to those who bothered to arrive on time for their reservation. They would all huddle together outside, surly and hungry. Occasionally, one brave customer may try to infiltrate the restaurant. "You shall not pass!" I would threateningly yell as I stamp the Staff of Power on the front porch.
So, yes, Christopher was understandably and justifiably, and yet, largely accommodatingly hurried. While you tried to recall your wine decision from minutes earlier, Christopher prepared drinks for the rest of your table and, impatiently, checked in on his other tables. You weren't skipped. In fact, you were kindly allowing your fellow diners to get their beverages in a timely manner.
If you think about it, you were like the Galileo of your table, except he was placed under house arrest for eight years until his death by papal authorities out of fear he would recant his belief that the universe didn't revolve around himself. Galileo, never one to let his fellow diners go thirsty because of his feeble capacity for short term wine recollection, was exonerated by Pope John Paul II 359 years later. Controversy still surrounds his curious tendency to disappear to the restroom for lengthy periods of time whenever the check arrived, however.
Christopher simply misunderstood the ice issue. To be fair, this isn't the first time he misunderstood something he heard. One time, I dropped my keys and he thought the phone was ringing. But, he did not go all The Accused on Pollyanna as you would have it described. Ice and straws, sir. Ice and straws. A little perspective, if you will. We are, after all, a restaurant, not an emergency room.
If you wanted so desperately to wrap your lips around something 7 1/4 inches long and suck down a cool liquid, I am prepared to make several suggestions.
(Christopher may have been confused, too, if you did, as you wrote, ask for "stews." We don't get many Vikings, and are, therefore, unfamiliar with proper Viking etiquette. Neither do we bring stews to the table. Sometimes bread, if pressured. But, then again, we ain't Olive Garden. (Insert your joke here.) That's probably not that funny to you now—raw nerves and all, but go back and read what you wrote when you visit Key West next year. If you don't laugh out loud I'll buy you an Olive Garden gift certificate. Stew on that!)
The actual response to Chris when he asked for your first impressions was a pleasant, "Our first impression was 45 minutes ago." Or, in restaurant time, an hour and a half after your reservation.
Also, what's the opposite of pleasant?
Yes, your partner approached me about the situation. I in no way laughed at him. In fact, I explained to him that, after asking Christopher how things were going with his tables, he offhandedly remarked, "They're nice,"—or was it offendedly remarked? But I digress— and we went on to discuss how we should try to accommodate the tables that were expecting your third of the restaurant.
Your partner told me how we came highly recommended from the staff at Alexander's Guest House, on TripAdvisor, and that he'd been to Key West for the past four years, I believe it was, and how it's always been great and—because I wasn't expecting the answer of, "Yes," (after all, your partner was running outside to talk on the phone most of your visit. That must be how he stays so fit)—I jokingly interrupted and said, "...And we ruined all of that." When I realized he was serious, I listened to his complaints (We were rude, something about ice, straws...I don't know, I wasn't really paying attention, his shorts were really tight. No inadequacies in his business, I can tell you that!), I apologized, I explained to him that there must be some wild miscommunication, I relayed Christopher's "They're nice" comment, and that we were in no way intending to be rude. Your partner and I shared a hug. He smelled nice. My pants grew somewhat tighter. Some consider that attempting to resolve the issue and making the guests happy. Others file restraining orders.
I believe it was around the time of the hug incident you rose from your seat and exclaimed from across the room, "This is shit!" and approached us. This—and excuse the expression—was the last stew, er, straw. In any case, it was all over except for the shouting. While Christopher did call your partner "sweetheart" and "princess" (and, really, who amongst us hasn't at least thought it?), I don't consider that an unfair response to loudly being called an "asshole."
I should mention that the expression, "The customer is always right", was coined by customers who found themselves in philosophically indefensible positions. Even if the customer is right—as you seem to have a generous understanding of—you partner shouldn't call his server an asshole, especially in front of a child. And speaking of you—sitting at the door telling customers entering the restaurant to leave? Classy. I can respect a move like that. I hope I tickled your sense of irony when I did the the same to your party.
By the way, what is it when one group of customers say another group of customers are wrong? I'm not good with logic problems. Alan Turing ordered a second dessert just to wrap his head around that one. Nevertheless, that's what happened.
As for the Miami remark: This occurred after the verbal altercation occurred inside, while I was holding the door open for your party to leave. Your partner was standing in front of the door taunting my server to step outside and fight as he referred to Christopher as "white trash." And, yes, while that fight might have provided a few moments of light entertainment and intense betting before Christopher dropped your partner to the pavement (Christopher may be lithe, but kitten has claws), two wrongs don't make a right. Three rights, however, make a left which is, one by one, what you all did after I asked you all to leave the premises.
Note to self: Remember to tell Christopher's Latino partner—who's also not from Miami—that he's living with a racist. Also, call in Xanax prescription.
The Flaming Buoy Filet Co. welcomes all criticism written in good faith. If you find that you must lie or exaggerate to make a point, chances are you haven't a point to make.
Please do enjoy the rest of your stay in Key West as well as any subsequent visits.
I immediately contacted Alexander's Guest House after you left and apologized for the incident. I Intend to forward this communication, as well.