Adventures in Restaurant Service

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Two recent stories in the national food press have given ELV pause.

Both concern the attitudes and arrogance of “hot” restaurants when it comes to serving the public.

One, called Rogue 24 in Washington, D. C. serves 24-course “journey” menus (taking over three hours) and requires its patrons to sign a two-page contract.

The second concerns a service nightmare endured by Alan Richman at a hot New York hipster hangout, which led to a laughable, illogical allegation by the restaurant that he had harassed a waitress by firmly patting her ass during his visit. (ELV will believe Richman goes around swatting waitresses’ asses when he sees Michelle Obama in a porn film.)

Both indicate to Eating Las Vegas there is something deeply wrong with the hip, casual craze that has infected restaurants from coast to coast — even when it’s serving you a three-hour meal.

On the one hand, off-hand, unprofessional inattentiveness is expected — almost displayed as a badge of honor — at cool-at-all-costs (or “too cool to care” as Richman puts it) joints catering to younger crowds. On the other, you have cocky restaurateurs so impressed with their instant success, it’s like they’ve ingested an cocktail of hubris that allows them to put anything but the customer first.

Thankfully, we live and eat in Las Vegas. Say what you will about our restaurant scene, but the professionalism of our hospitality industry is the best in the world.

As for ELV, when he gets a hankerin’ to cop feels and pat asses, he does what every man in Vegas does: he goes swimming.

6 thoughts on “Adventures in Restaurant Service

  1. Before it closed, a few friends and I decided to dine at the downtown Andres. I made the reservation, and they faxed me a contract to sign that didn’t include prohibitions on photography or social media, but did require a credit card number and had cancellation charges. So, while the Rogue 24 contract may be extreme, I have seen this in our humble burg, as ELV might say.

    Everyone has the right to run their business they way they want (within certain civilized limits), and everyone else has the right to patronize or not patronize that establishment as they see fit. I don’t begrudge Rogue 24 or Andres how they want to do business, and I’m sympathetic to restaurants, especially those with limited space, dealing with inconsiderate cancelers. At the same time, this sort of thing makes me less inclined to dine there. If they’re doing alright without my business, then I’m genuinely happy for them. There are plenty of other good places to eat in both New York and Las Vegas.

    Richman’s article is sad, and as well written as we’d expect from him. Its always dangerous hearing one side of the story, especially when the teller is skilled at presenting his point of view. However, I will say that while there may not be a bright line between “relaxed” and “lazy”, there is a whole lot of territory between them, and it isn’t out of line to expect that one doesn’t imply the other.

  2. To this day I fondly recall leaving a $1 tip on a $600 dinner for a surly, indifferent ponce of a waiter at bouchons.

    It was sweet then, its still sweet now.

    Viva Hate.

  3. Actually, I had to sign a one page reservation form to dine at “e by Jose Andres.” Initially, I was unsure as to whether I wanted to go through the hassle of completing the agreement, then having to take a picture of the reservation form, and then emailing said picture to them (I don’t have a fax machine so I could not fax the reservation agreement to them). I decided that I wanted to dine at “e by Jose Andres” and this is what I needed to do to make that happen. If I end up loving the food, then it was worth it. If the food is sub-par, then I will probably never “jump through these hoops” again.

  4. Granted even though dealing with the reservation agreement was a small hassle, at least I know “e by Jose Andres” will be open. On the other hand, I walked 2 miles in 90 degree heat in Portland to dine at a restaurant tonight only to find out it was booked for a private event. There was no message on their website and the sign was not on the door this morning when I walked by. This is the second time this has happened in the last month at two different restaurants. If I called up to make reservations, I would not have encountered any problems, but in Portland we just don’t call to make reservations and many Portland restaurants don’t take reservations. This is one reason I love Las Vegas restaurants—their utter professionalism. Situations such as these would NEVER happen in Las Vegas.

  5. I read the Alan Richman article a couple of days ago, and as someone in the service industry, couldn’t get over the brief mention in his rebuttal email about his dining companion: “First, I thought one of the men in my group was totally out of line with his mouth and his comments. I just couldn’t get him to shut up.”. There is no other mention or apology for said person in the rest of his article. That sounds like the kind of person perfectly capable of “patting an ass”. Now, could someone being an obnoxious prick on your table affect the quality and attitude of service? I hope so.

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