Posts Tagged ‘bad restaurant stories’

Dear friends, family, and people who I will probably never ever meet but sort of like just because you’re reading this: please pardon the brief interruption in our quest for the greatest Disney song ever for a very important public service rant. A rant that is a true story in which the names have not been changed because I am too lazy. A rant for you, for me, for all of us. Except you Billy. You stop reading this right now. Good, he’s gone, and just in time for a bold fonted title called…

It Happened At Olive Garden

Recently (Tuesday) it was my wife’s birthday. So, to mark this occasion I thought it would be really great to take her and her parents out for a nice dinner at one of our favorite restaurants: McDonalds. Ha ha, no. I mean Olive Garden (as you may have guessed.) There are six major restaurant tiers for those of you who don’t know.

Tier 1: Hate it, won’t go there.

Tier 2: Not a huge fan but could be talked into it.

Tier 3: Pretty good but probably fast food.

Tier 4: Good and not fast food.

Tier 5: Very good and a little pricey.

Tier 6: Very very good but also very very expensive.

Olive Garden is pretty firmly entrenched as our favorite Tier 5 restaurant (we don’t have a Tier six restaurant because we are not (as of yet) willing to pay one hundred dollars for any meal that won’t last a week, say please and thank you, and do its own dishes.) We go to Olive Garden on special occasions like birthdays, significant life events, and National Beaver Dam Memorial Night. We like it there, we like the food, the atmosphere, and the Garlic bread. So as we entered the restaurant at 6:00 we were excited, anticipatory, and ready to celebrate the noble Beaver and his hilariously cussworded home… I mean my wife’s birthday. Sorry— yeah… I’m gonna hear about that later. I’ve really got to start erasing my mistakes on here huh?

What do you mean that's totally not a holiday?

What do you mean that’s totally not a holiday?

Our first clue that something was a bit off at the Garden was that there were about four people standing behind the greeter desk staring intently at the seating chart computer monitor as if it were written in a language none of them happened to speak. There were two people in line in front of us and it wasn’t that they were waiting for a table to be open (there were a lot of open tables) they were waiting for the four amigos to decode the Indian Jones-esque puzzle that was the seating chart. After a good five minutes or so we finally got up to the counter and asked for a table for four. After another brief huddle and a great deal of pointing and clicking (it’s entirely possible they were playing Minecraft back there) we were seated at a table with three chairs and two sets of silverware.

But no big deal right? The lady who sat us got us another chair, smiled hopefully, and disappeared back towards her game of Solitaire. I mean… her computer screen. We sat and waited and before too long Cassie’s parents arrived and we sat and waited some more. And then some more. And then some more. And then someone came and—oh nope sorry. We were still waiting. About 45 minutes after we actually sat down at the table I began to be suspicious that maybe (possibly) sort of (kind of) we might have been entirely forgotten. People who arrived after us were being served, people who arrived after us were eating four course meals and reading the entirety of War and Peace aloud, and we were still sitting there… just waiting.

War and Peace: the literary equivalent of PBS.

War and Peace: the literary equivalent of PBS.

So I (being the big man sort of person that I am) decided I’d just go and remind the people at the front desk that we were (contrary to the beliefs of some) still alive. The girl at the front desk was super nice and very apologetic and as she led me back to my seat I thought all would once more be well with the world. After all, mistakes happen right? I mean at some point everyone has to take a turn as the things that fall through the fish scented cracks of life, right? So we all sat down had a hearty laugh and the Manager came by to take our drink orders and assure us that someone would be along in just a few minute to take our orders. Unfortunately for us though, the man manager was lying.

For the next oh… thirty minutes or so we all sat there and watched as the Manager walked around and held conferences with various waitresses and waits. Waiters… whatever. I mean I don’t know if he was trying to recreate the Council of Elrond scene from the Fellowship of the Ring or not but he certainly looked like he was. He certainly got the length right, and at least once I’m sure he thought to himself “One does not simply assign a waitperson to a table.”

At least they had enough chairs...

At least they had enough chairs…

He swung by the table once to drop off some breadsticks and promise us that all of the wait staff hadn’t been eaten by a bear before wandering off again to do… something. Something that I’m sure was very important and somehow involved him going personally to each of the wait staff and questioning them intently about which Power Ranger they thought was the best.

Roughly an hour and a half after we arrived though, a waitress finally came by to take our orders. I feel sort of bad for this waitress looking back, she had a huge party that she was waiting on… or for… or to an extent… or whatever. And it was fairly obvious that we weren’t supposed to be her table but that she was the person the manager had (finally) decided to assign us to. We all started ordering though and for about five seconds or so everything was totally fine. Then we got to my wife’s order: the Cheese Ravioli, something that Olive Garden, on this night, in the year of Lord 2013: did not have. My wife (being the gracious, awesome, hot person that she is) smiled and ordered something else but given that it was (after all) her birthday and that ravioli (in the grand scheme of the earth) is not a terribly hard to obtain item we were disappointed.

Also, (several hours into what I will loosely call our “dining” experience) someone finally brought out enough silverware for our table. Things were going along fairly smoothly (I say fairly because somewhere in here my father in law (who ordered a water without lemon) obtained a water that not only had a lemon in it, but that (through a Shakespearean level series of coincidences) may or may not have had water from one of my old glasses poured into his glass by our waitress.) There was also a slight debacle when my wife asked for more coke at which point our waitress disappeared for roughly the length of the movie “Titanic” before returning to inform us that the coke machine was currently broken and that it would be fixed as quickly as possible (which is to say: a half hour later).

While all of this was going on it might be worth mentioning that a glass was dropped by a passing waiter and shattered on the ground at roughly the speed of sound. The table next to us was informed that the restaurant was out of croutons. And a waiter whispered slyly to a young four year old that Santa was not real… okay I made that last one up. Still though, it was not the sort of silky smooth vaguely Italian scented experience that we’ve come to expect from our favorite oddly themed Garden.


Ironically: I kind of hate olives.

The manager popped up towards the end of a meal and offered us a free desert on account of the fact that for our first two hours there we were (like Amanda Seyfried’s character development regimen) largely ignored. At that point we were all too full to eat but we also all ordered something and took our deserts home with us in doggy bags because at that point we felt like we had earned something, but in the end I still lacked the one thing that I was really hoping to get out of the night: a nice quite evening to celebrate the birth of my wife.

Now, please don’t get me wrong in all this, I’m not saying no one should go to Olive Garden. I still really like Olive Garden and I will probably be going back there again when the Beavers’ Dams stretch towards the skies once more. Most of the events of that night were simple mistakes that anyone could have made and were (especially in our waitresses case) not any one person’s fault. All I’m saying is sometimes (even in the best of times) Life will take time out of its busy schedule to come and punch you in the solar plexus. So thanks for reading my ranting, and we’ll see you Monday!

P.S. Check back tomorrow afternoon for the first ever Thoughts We Might Have Had podcast!! A good laugh, for when life punches you in the aforementioned plexus!