I do not expect much out of people. I really just expect mutual kindness. When I am dealing with a business I expect professionalism. I will leave names out, but I must share what happened last night. Why? Because I hope by sharing it never happens again.
I took a group of wives out to dinner last night. All of them met me through the WTB (Warrior Transition Brigade) at Ft Campbell. I chose one of my favorite restaurants here in Clarksville for YRF to treat them to a lovely group of 10 ladies to dinner out. I had called the restaurant to reserve a table. I spoke with a manager and she was super sweet. She told me to just arrive 15-20 minutes and I would not have any problems getting a table.
I arrived 30 minutes early and was greeted by a super sweet hostess and a manager obviously having a bad day. I told them I needed a table for 10. The super sweet hostess said, "Sure give me just a second." She asked, "Is your party here?" I said, "No, I came early to get the table." The hostess then informed me that at least half of my party had to be present before we could be sat. I told her I understood, but that I had spoken to a manager earlier. Then explained that I was treating a group of wives whose husband's had been injured in combat to dinner and I would appreciate being sat in advance so they didn't have to wait. The hostess nodded and began to speak. The manager on duty cut our conversation off and very rudely informed me that she didn't care who was in my party their policy stands. I explained that I spoke to someone about this exact issue and they assured me there wouldn't be a problem. She very rudely informed me that no one told her anything about it and the policy is the policy no matter who the group is. I even asked if we could be seated like just 5-10 minutes prior to 6 so they could come right in. I was met with a "No, the policy stands. The management has that policy for a reason." I then said "Are you management?" "I am a manager," she replied. I then said, "And what is your name?" (Yes I got her name and position at this establishment.)
The hostess just stood there speechless. She smiled and said that she would do the best she could to help. I took a little buzzer and walked away and waited. I still have no idea what the buzzer was for and you'll see why.....
I waited by the door for our party to slowly trickle in. As the now four of us stood there at 5:57, a party of 9 walked in with our 5th person behind them. The manager looked right at me and took that party of 9 to the table I had been waiting for. I walked up to the hostess and was greeted with a horrified look. She saw exactly what had happened. I said, "She totally just gave them our table didn't she?" The hostess said, "Yes and that's your fifth person isn't it." I said, "Sure is." She panicked. She then found us a table that could seat 7 and a table down from it that could seat 4. Yes our party was being broken up, but that hostess was trying to do her best for us. That young lady really tried to make the best out of a stressful situation her manager created for her. She thanked me for being nice to her about it. I told her that she is not the problem. I also told her, "You heard what your manager said and you know it was wrong. What she said was disgusting and it will be addressed, just not tonight because she will not ruin this group's night. She can ruin mine, but it stops here."
Later I learned that as I walked by the manager rolled her eyes at me. My friend caught her and told her to please send the rest of our group with the Warrior Transition Battalion of Ft Campbell upstairs to join us. She said she saw the manager then had an oh crap moment on her face.
The hostess took us to our table and we had a very delightful server who did a great job taking care of our party. I verified this manager's position at the restaurant with the server. I told her I was paying the bill. She took our drink order and then all the sudden the waitress became almost too nice. Then they had the party separating our party to move down so the others that were supposed to join us could join us. Weird, how all of the sudden the group was being accommodated?!
Our group only turned out to be a group of 7, but it was a great group. We shared a lot of laughs and had a wonderful meal. The night turned out to be an excellent night.
Although I love this restaurant's food, I doubt we will ever go there again. I will tell you that I will never take a group there again. I will not risk an embarrassment of that level occurring again. I call ahead for a reason. I don't like to look unprofessional. I like to have all of my ducks in a row.
I am still horrified at the actions of that manager. I worked in food service for years. I have never seen such rudeness from a manager and then to witness it multiple times. I understand policies, but it was a Tuesday night. This fact was pointed out to me by the manager on the phone. She even thanked me for picking a slow night to bring in a large party. There should have not been an issue over something so small. And that comment and then to roll her eyes at us, seriously?! So not cool at all!! I should have asked how old she was.
Did I ask for free food? No. Did I ask for a discount? No. Did I ask for special treatment? Perhaps, but what is wrong with asking if our party could be seated a few minutes early on a Tuesday night? The manager should have accommodated my simple request. It didn't cost her anything but time. And she wasn't seating tables, except for the one she sat to be spiteful and rude.
I think the thing that bothers me the most is I expect this kind of stuff in a non-military town. But we are here in Clarksville. Ft Campbell keeps Clarksville alive. If I tell you I am treating a group of women whose loved ones have been wounded in combat you should think of it as an honor that I chose your restaurant not as a hassle. And I requested something so simple, something that cost nothing and was met with pure rudeness.
This restaurant has always been one of our family's favorites. Now I don't think I can ever look at them the same way. I am just horribly disappointed in the rudeness in our own town and I pray this was an isolated incident.