So, this past Saturday night we had an interesting experience at the local Bob Evans. I have blogged about one of our experiences with an angry server there before, but haven’t touched upon the 3 or 4 other times that “the kitchen held up the order” while she talked to other customers at great length about slot machines at the Meadows, or the time that she rolled her eyes at me while the wife and I were discussing the seasonal shrimp on the menu in regards to where it was cooked and my allergy. This time we were most likely doubly annoying as we had two small children with us. The saga begins…
From: Eric Carroll <email@example.com>
To: Leann D. Purdy, Nathaniel A. Riggs, BE-mail
Hello Leann and Nate,
I hope this message finds you well, and that you’re both still with the Bob Evans team! You may remember that I had contacted you in the past about the #jelly3x rule and a bad experience at the Bob Evans in Bridgeville Pennsylvania, and blogged about that alongside your enthusiastic response, and even more thorough follow-up.
We have since had a few other experiences with that waitress, including one where she rolled her eyes at me and said “well, you don’t have to order it” when I was discussing the shrimp stir-fry available seasonally. Clearly, she has absolutely no grasp of cross-contamination. The running theme with her seems to be that the kitchen is always late & to blame with any service issues.
Being that we have generally excellent food & service at the Bridgeville location, and it’s now even closer to home since we have moved to Bridgeville, we have gone in to dine and simply requested with the host or hostess to not be seated in her section.
Sadly this weekend, we didn’t spot her upon our arrival and did not inform the hostess of our preference. We were quickly welcomed by the hostess, seated in her section and decided to go with it as it had been a while since we had Maleficent as our server.
Nowadays, we have a 2½ year old and a 7 month old in tow. Bob Evans is a great place to get a full meal for a family without breaking the bank, yet another notch in the proverbial “pro’s” column. (I mean, have you spent the same amount of money at Panera or Steak n’ Shake? It’s not even half of the food. Maybe local heroes Eat’n Park can almost compete.)
Maleficent quickly came to the table and took our drink orders. Our eldest ordered apple juice, I asked for an iced tea, and the wife went for water. Our drinks were brought quickly and our waitress shot a nasty look to the table beside us as the hostess sat another family with 3 older children as she set our drinks down. She came back a bit later to take our food order and my wife politely asked for straws which we didn’t get with our drinks and some crayons that weren’t included with our kid’s meal place-mat menu.
Maleficent Immediately huffed as she slammed down the straws and remarked that she didn’t have time to get crayons because she just had two other tables seated in her section. We were only wanting crayons because it had taken her a while to come back and take our food order, well before anyone else had been seated in our section.
I forget exactly what the exchange was that followed. I know my wife had mentioned that we had had several problems in the past with her service. I was pretty much shocked into jaw-agape silence at that point. My wife ended with standing up to go speak to the manager, and Maleficent yelled (yes, yelled) “Lincoln, take tables 54 and 56!” or something to that effect.
After my wife came back from a conversation with the manager, one of the aforementioned customers beside us said “Wow. I can’t believe she told you no on the crayons.” We gave the super-condensed version of our history with Maleficent as they continued in their wide-eyed disbelief.
Maleficent continued to serve that family, but we and another nearby table had been reassigned to a young man named Lincoln (Linkin?), on either Maleficent or the manager’s authority. I wasn’t present for my wife’s conversation with the manager, but it was apparently full of knowing nods and angry head-shakes as she regaled the manager with tales of our past adventures with Maleficent. I do know that my wife apparently characterized me as a madman about to lose all patience to bolster her point. Perhaps that’s why the manager never came to the table to offer either an apology or an explanation.
Now, reading back on this, the story so far does sound like we are being absolutely ridiculous over the exclusion of two crayons for the amusement of our child who’s behavior, rearing, and amusement are wholly our responsibility. Do you also see how the past history and an apparently poor attitude towards customers and a potential tip factor into this moment? It must have been some serious shenanigans in order for the next table to notice.
The lesson I have learned is that we will keep crayons and a coloring book in our family vehicle for just such a purpose. It is not Bob Evans’ responsibility to develop my child’s creativity and fine motor skills, nor to provide a means to pacifying the insatiable need for constant activity or the lack of patience to wait for a delicious prepared meal. Despite evidence to the contrary, we were indeed prepared parents with our own plastic mess-prevention and environment-sterilizing place-mat for our son. He can’t color yet, but he can shovel tiny bits of food into his mouth at a rate destined to require another kid’s meal sooner rather than later.
This leads us to Lincoln (Linkin?). Lincoln was certainly on top of his game after being saddled with two more tables in addition to his already presumably busy/full section. He came through and delighted our daughter with a two-pack of pink and purple crayons. Lincoln took our order with a smile, brought the food out quickly with no conspiratorial kitchen issues, and was just all-around pleasant. We even had to ask for a replacement fork as we had somehow lost one. It was brought out amid a flurry of what I presume to be normal Saturday restaurant activity with no hesitation, and rather quickly. We even got jelly on one request.
After our meal, we thanked him for being such an incredible server, and I remarked that I was glad he was so understanding because I was nervous about being labeled as some sort of problem after requesting a new server. He indicated that it was not a surprise, happens regularly, and that he didn’t come to us with any preconceived notions. He also added that people inexplicably (my words, not his) come in and request to be seated in Maleficent’s section and Maleficent’s section only.
We will request Lincoln’s section in the future, and barring that option we’ll just request not be seated in Maleficent’s section. I can play that game. We cleaned up as best we could from our inevitable child-induced mess, left close to a 50% tip, and found the errant fork before we left. The table directly beside us (I assume the other table taken by Lincoln at the same time we were handed over) also rather audibly and publicly thanked Lincoln for being such a great server. I’m not sure if they also had issues that we weren’t aware of? I told the cashier how happy we were with our service upon checkout.
I don’t want to pick on a server. I do want to illustrate the contrast between what I see as poor service as it relates to incredible service and how it didn’t seem to be any more difficult than you make it. I do hope Lincoln is rewarded for a job well done and his overall attitude. I’m sure it reflects in his work effort and in his gratuities. I would hope that you can again pass this email along to all of the appropriate parties. Area coaches and the store management, correct? I really feel like we were nothing but polite and reasonable up until we were denied crayons, and we remained polite and reasonable immediately after that whole exchange. That seems like an absolutely insane sentence for one adult to write to another. Do I have a valid point, or am I just super way out of line here?
I would just drop the entire issue and move on, but Bob Evans is one of the few places that I can safely get a meal with my shellfish allergy, I can comfortably order anything on the menu (outside of the seasonal Lent-deathfish), it’s very close by, and I feel like we really get great value for a dollar when we dine at your establishment.
Last time you sent out some gift certificates. Please save them this time. I don’t want free food, I just want a stress-free dining experience. If you must send gift certificates, can you direct them to a Pittsburgh charity that can give them to people who do perhaps need a free meal? Thankfully I can put food on the table for my family while many others struggle to do so. We need to get our butts out on a kids-eat-free promotional night if we want a free meal.
I realize that in the grand scheme of things, my complaints are trivial. I realize that some would enjoy any meal regardless of the way in which it was delivered. What if though, this had been that meal for someone? What if this was one night out that they looked forward to and it was met with the kind of service that we regularly receive from one apparently disgruntled waitress? Is this how Bob Evans wants to be perceived?
I plan to blog this adventure also. I do less of that these days, but this seemed to be appropriately entertaining. Of course, the names will be omitted or changed.
I also look forward to your response and insight. Thank you once again for your time and assistance!