High Programmer > Alan De Smet > Rants > Palomino: How a Restaurant Can Make a Bad Situation Worse

Palomino: How a Restaurant Can Make a Bad Situation Worse

I'm back from Gen Con Indy. While there, at a friend's recommendation, I tried the Palomino restaurant.

The food was fine. Nothing great, but nothing I'd complain about. On the whole, the service was great, the wait staff was polite and paid attention to our table. However, when the going got tough, Palomino tried to chicken out.

Our group is sitting at our table, waiting for both our appetizers and the remainder of our group. A waitress nearby is busing a table and drops a small dish of marinara sauce. The marinara makes a leap out of the dish and splatters several of us and our table. Three of us have marinara on the backs of our shirts and hair.

The waitresses immediate reaction was correct. She apologized and immediately fetched some soda water to help blot out the stain. We spend some time wiping marinara out of each other's hair.

What happened next was the problem. Nothing happened. The waitress headed on about her business. Our waiter said nothing of the incident. At first I assumed we were just waiting for the manager to become free to speak with us, but this proved not to be the case.

Waitstaff has potentially stained several shirts. If anyone from the restaurant had been over within a few minutes, apologized, and offered to pay for dry cleaning, you wouldn't be reading this. I would have considered it beneath notice. If the above happened and we were offered a minor concession (say, free desert), you'd be reading a glowing review about the service in the usual place.

Instead, we waited and waited.

When we got our checks, and it was clear no such support was on its way. I asked to speak with the manager.

The manager headed over. I explained the situation. He made no offers. I explained that I was concerned that my new shirt might be stained. He made no offers. I explicitly asked if he could help if there was a stain. Finally, he offered to cover any dry cleaning expenses. Even then, he clearly wanted to offer the minimum number of reimbursements. Despite the fact that one of my friend's white shirts was clearly stained, when my friend said he didn't care the manager took him at face value. (To be fair, my friend's shirt was a $10 t-shirt, which is why he wasn't worried.)

This was completely unacceptable. I have no idea what the problem was. But it's not my problem; Palomino was clearly responsible and they should have stepped up to rectify the situation. If the waitress feared for her job and didn't tell anyone about the accident, the fault lies on a manager that keeps employees in such fear. If the fault is that the manager didn't want to pay out, well, it's still his fault. The worst possible case would have been replacing three shirts, total risk: about $60.

When the going got tough, Palomino tried to flee. There is no excuse for this.

(Update 2006-11-14: Typo fixes.)

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