John Curtas is …

Letter of the Week

ELV note: The following letter outlines a common customer conundrum, i.e., exactly how should a restaurant handle a patron in distress? Our response concerns the issue of the food poisoning rather than the manners of the management, and we’ll leave it to our loyal readers to decipher/discern/decode(?) what was really going on at the hostess stand, and how things should have been handled.


I went to Gallagher’s Steakhouse in the New York New York Casino….   wait..  Let me rephrase this so that it is clear exactly what has happened and how I plan on sharing it.   I stayed in Las Vegas for additional evening to the tune of approx. $400 (hotel, extra dining, etc) to get an opportunity to try a newly learned about Steakhouse in the New York New York Casino…   The wine that was recommended by Paul our server was great..  the bread was OK, but we ordered the Clams Casino, and I am sorry to say but they were horrible…  disgusting and to the point that they made my girlfriend and I both sick.  Literally we were both vomiting in the bathroom just outside the restaurant.  I attempted to make the staff aware of the obvious isolated problem and carry about my evening, this became impossible.  After vomiting in the bathroom and than making our way to a taxi and puking a few more times we made in back to the hotel where we were staying and again vomiting and feeling extremely ill.  I have never gone to the length of emailing every email address that I could find relating to a restaurant, but this is how strongly I feel about this whole event.

I cannot recall the managers name that I spoke to while at the restaurant, but while standing in the entry of the restaurant upset and my girlfriend ‘green’ I was basically treated as an problem and piece of garbage as I try to give my business card to the ‘managers’ standing there expressing how sick my girlfriend had become as I didn’t want to walk away from whatever I owed for what we had drank or eaten.  I was told that I would ‘get in trouble’ if I were to leave.  Nearly vomiting on the hostess station I was handed a bill for approx. $17, the gentleman said it was for our drinks..  I was not too happy to say the least, but after sharing some expletives I gave a credit card to the gentleman and asked him to hurry as I wanted to leave ASAP.  A moment later ‘Paul” our server and truly a classy and extremely respectable individual came out and handed me my credit card and told me I was crazy if I thought that I would pay for anything and said sorry over and over, I gave him a tip with the little cash I had in my pocket as I figured the manager was going to make him pay for my bill.

After I arrived back at the hotel I called the restaurant again to share my experience and concern of a problem with the safety of the food and was met with the same guy who had already spoke with me and rather than saying sorry, just said ‘have a nice evening’ and hung up on me.  Obviously his time and responsibilities at the time were more important that me, the customer.  I assured him that I would let as many people know of my poor quality food, and worse treatment as I could.

You are only one of many people that I am telling this story to.  I am confident that others will take note and either not eat at this establishment, or at least ask of the people that run it the simple question of ‘Why?’.  Why would you treat a customer like this and why would you not have accepted this as a mistake in the kitchen and just simply done something to rectify the problem.  Why do I so feel compelled to sit in my hotel room and compose an email to anyone who might listen.  Why does it take this sort of effort to get someone to say so much as ‘sorry’?  The only person who apologized was the innocent waiter Paul.

Here is why…   This restaurant is a tourist destination a ‘one time stop and have a meal’ kind of place.   It makes for a great story about how the meat is sitting in the window and how the aged beef taste so good.  It makes for a great tribute to the original in New York.  The only problem with all of this is that the staff and the management knows that generally people don’t return, so why go out of their way to make it any different.  Why go out of their way to be humble and apologetic?  I understand that I am just a number, they proved it quite clearly in front of fellow patrons, and passers by.   Well for the record, I refuse to be a number and just another customer.  I want to try the great steaks of Gallagher’s, and furthermore I want to enjoy an evening in Las Vegas rather than in my hotel room sick and my girlfriend sick and in bed.  I live only a few hours drive from Las Vegas and was looking forward to the enjoyable evening and good times.  I have effectively wasted the money and time on this trip thanks to Gallagher’s, I spent the money on a room, gas to get here, and a couple of drinks on the walk over to Gallagher’s.

To anyone who has read this far, I hope that you can do what is within your power to ensure that one else has to have this type of experience at Gallagher’s.


ELV responds:
Being something of an amateur expert on the subject of food poisoning, we find it hard to believe that bad clams (or any foodstuff ingested at Gallagher’s) was the cause of your digestive distress. This is not to let the restaurant off the hook for what (obviously) seemed to you to be unsympathetic behavior, but only to point out that the symptoms of any food poisoning usually take two to three hours to manifest themselves (before all kinds of chaos breaks loose). Our guess is that you were well on your way to being sick when you entered the restaurant. That being said, it is also obvious to us that a simple apology, along with a “how can we help you?” would’ve gone a long way in the situation.
Salmonella-ly yours,
Vomitus Professorus

11 Responses to Letter of the Week

  • ELV – I think the posting of this article is ridiculous. If the standard ELV reader doesn’t read your comment at the end, this article looks like you are bashing Gallaghers (and you kind of are by posting this). Obviously, you disagree with the food poisoning in this article and should preface the article with your comments, not put them at the end.

    Also, I understand the manager’s perspective of wanting to remove this person from the restaurant. Any good restaurant manger knows that food poisoning cannot onset that quickly and probably found it preposterous that these patrons were making such a scene for such a ridiculous reason. Could it be possible they ate the same thing at a different restaurant at the same time earlier in the day and that’s why they go sick at the same time? Say it ain’t so.

    Gallaghers is a fine steakhouse and you should be a bit more responsible when using your influence this way.

    How about you just post a normal review of Gallagher’s at the beginning of this post?

  • Copied this from the Virginia dept of Agriculture site

    Disease: Salmonellosis
    Source: Spread when contaminated food (meat, poultry, eggs) is eaten raw or undercooked. Also, when cooked food comes in contact with contaminated raw food, or when an infected person prepares food.
    Symptoms (after eating): Onset: 6-48 hours; nausea, fever, headache, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting lasting 2-7 days. Can be fatal to infants, the elderly, the infirm, and the immune-compromised.
    Prevention: Separate raw foods from cooked foods. Thoroughly cook meat, poultry, and eggs. Consume only pasteurized milk, dairy products, and egg nog. Don’t leave food at room temperature over 2 hours. Refrigerate below 40 degrees F.

    Disease: Staph
    Source: Carried by people on skin, in boils, pimples, and throat infections; spread when carriers handle food. Staph bacteria produce toxins (poisons) at warm temperatures. Meat, poultry, salads, cheese, eggs, custards, and cream-filled desserts are susceptible foods.
    Symptoms (after eating): Onset: 1-8 hours; vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal cramps lasting 1-2 days. Rarely fatal.
    Prevention: Cooking won’t destroy staph poison, so practice good personal hygiene and sanitary food handling. Don’t leave perishable food unrefrigerated over 2 hours. For quick cooling, place hot food in small containers no more than 4 inches deep; cover when cool and refrigerate.

    Disease: Botulism
    Source: Most common in low acid foods canned improperly at home. The presence of these bacteria or their poisons is sometimes signaled by clear liquids turned milky, cracked jars, loose or dented lids, swollen or dented cans, or an “off” odor. Recently, botulism has also been associated with low oxygen cooked foods (i.e. foil wrapped; vacuum packaged) which have been held at room temperatures for long periods of time.
    Symptoms (after eating): Onset: 4-72 hours; nervous system disturbances such as double vision, droopy eyelids, trouble speaking, swallowing, breathing. Untreated botulism can be fatal. If you or a family member have botulism symptoms, get medical help immediately. Then call health authorities.
    Prevention: Carefully examine canned goods (particularly those canned at home), and don’t use any canned goods showing danger signs. Also, cook and reheat foods thoroughly, keep cooked foods hot (above 140 degrees F) or cold (below 40 degrees F) and divide large portions of cooked food into smaller portions for serving and cooling.

    Disease: Perfringens food poisoning
    Source: “Buffet germ” that grows rapidly in large portions of food that cool slowly. It grows in chafing dishes which may not keep food sufficiently hot and in the refrigerator if food is stored in portions too large to cool quickly.
    Symptoms (after eating): Onset: 8-24 hours; diarrhea, gas pains, nausea, and sometimes vomiting lasting only a day. Usually mild, but can be serious in ulcer patients, the elderly, ill, or immune-compromised.
    Prevention: Keep food hot (above 140 degrees F) or cold (below 40 degrees F). Divide bulk cooked foods into small portions for serving and cooling. Reheat leftovers to at least 165 degrees F. Take special care with poultry, stew, soup, gravy, and casseroles.

    Disease: Campylobacteriosis
    Source: Contracted from untreated drinking water, infected pets, and when contaminated meat, poultry, milk, or shellfish is eaten raw or undercooked. Symptoms (after eating): Onset: 2-10 days; severe diarrhea (possibly bloody), cramps, fever, and headache lasting 1-10 days.
    Prevention: Don’t drink untreated water or unpasteurized milk. Wash hands, utensils and surfaces that touch raw poultry or meat. Thoroughly cook meat, poultry, and seafood.

    Disease: Listeriosis
    Source: Common in nature, food processing environments, and intestinal tracts of humans and animals. Spread in untreated water, unpasteurized milk and dairy products, raw meat and seafood, plus raw vegetables fertilized with infected manure.
    Symptoms (after eating): Onset: 2-30 days. Adults can develop fever, chills, and intestinal flu-like symptoms. Infants may vomit, refuse to drink, or have trouble breathing. Possible complications-meningitis, meningo-encephalitis, blood poisoning, spontaneous abortion, stillbirths. Rare, but can be fatal. Pregnant women, newborns, the elderly, infirm, and immune-compromised are most at risk.
    Prevention: Avoid raw milk and cheese made from unpasteurized milk. Follow keep refrigerated labels, observe sell by and use by dates, and thoroughly reheat frozen or refrigerated processed meat and poultry products before eating.

    Disease: Shigellosis
    Source: Spread when human carrier with poor sanitary habits handles liquid or moist food that is not thoroughly cooked afterwards. Shigella multiply at room temperature. Susceptible foods include poultry, milk and dairy products, salads, and other foods that require a lot of mixing and handling and no further heat treatment.
    Symptoms (after eating): Onset: 1-7 days; abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever, sometimes vomiting, and blood, pus or mucus in stool; lasts 5-6 days. Most serious in infants, the elderly, infirm, or immune-compromised.
    Prevention: Practice good personal hygiene and sanitary food handling (wash hands thoroughly and frequently). Also, avoid leaving perishable foods unrefrigerated over 2 hours and cook food thoroughly (reheat to at least 165 degrees F). Do not prepare food when ill with diarrhea or vomiting.

    Disease: Hemorrhagic colitis
    Source: Serotype 0157:H7 toxin contracted by drinking water which contains raw sewage (usually during travel). Also, can occur in raw or rare ground beef and unpasteurized milk.
    Symptoms (after eating): Onset: 3-4 days; severe abdominal cramps followed by diarrhea (often bloody), nausea, vomiting, fever lasting to 10 days. May require hospitalization. Possible complication-Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), a urinary tract infection capable of causing kidney failure in children.
    Prevention: Don’t drink untreated water or unpasteurized milk. Thoroughly cook food and reheat it to at least 165 degrees F. Don’t leave perishable food unrefrigerated over 2 hours.

  • Fact is .. “food poisoning” .. can be .. alcohol poisoning or a stomach bug .. .
    It takes longer than that for bad food or a virus to make you sick and if a cooked clam is bad .. your nose should know ..
    But, the correct way of handling this is to freeze samples of the food for testing some places require ..
    Get the persons information including hotel and room number .. cancel the rest of the order and to not charge for the rest of the food just in case .. charging for the drinks .. common … here are some guidelines ..

  • ” freeze samples of the food for testing”

    Totally asinine suggestion. This is what should be done at a banquet when dozens of people fall ill. If a restaurant in Vegas were to do this every time someone got the runs, they would need bigger freezers!


  • i’m not saying it’s food poisoning or not, but i will say that certain foods (in particular, rich foods, such as clams casino) can make me sick almost instantly (within an hour for sure).

    that being said, i don’t call that food poisoning. i call that a weak stomach.

  • Hello –

    Thank you all for the comments and thoughts regarding this guest experience.

    As the Marketing Director for Ark Vegas, which operates Gallagher’s Steakhouse, please allow me to clarify a few things regarding this particular situation.

    The letter is an eye opener to read as there are many inaccuracies that unfairly misrepresent our management team at Gallagher’s, especially as being apathetic. We take all concerns very seriously and treat all guests with the utmost respect.

    As the above letter has now come to public light, I feel that it’s necessary to clarify and expound on a few, important things:

    • The guests first spoke with our General Manager to let them know of their issues. He immediately apologized and noticed they had eaten only one clam and their drinks remained untouched; he informed them that they would owe nothing.

    • Our General Manager offered to call the front desk and get help for their sudden, onset illness; the guests declined.

    • The entire experience did not take place in a short span of time all at once. The couple left Gallagher’s and returned to the host stand several times over the course of the evening. During one such visit, they requested their bill and were mistakenly given one by a manager who was unaware of the situation earlier in the evening. That was immediately rectified by the General Manager and server who returned their credit card to tell them, again, that they owed nothing and to, again, apologize for their experience.

    • A phone conversation did take place later that night, during which our General Manager again apologized and asked what else he could do to help. Requests by the manager to refrain from obscene language and to extend the same respect he was receiving were disregarded, unfortunately prompting an end to communications at that time.

    To Waylon, if you’re reading: We have already reached out to you via email, but have not heard back to date. If you’d care to further discuss your issues, please respond to the previous email sent from Brisa, or you may get in touch with me directly.

    Finally, is guest experience important to us? Absolutely. No one is “just a number” as surmised in the above letter. We don’t serve food and drinks to “numbers”, we strive to enhance a guest’s overall Las Vegas experience and to provide stories and build memories about that great time they had at Gallagher’s with their server Paulie.

    Matt Holsinger
    Marketing Director | ARK Vegas

  • Sounds like a Seinfeld episode:

    GEORGE: I’ll have the clam casino.

    JERRY: Get outta here.

    GEORGE: (Showing Jerry the menu) “Chef recommends”


    GEORGE: In every situation. No matter how silly I look. (Tastes his meal) Hm.. tastes a little funky.

    JERRY: Oh, I’m sure it’s fine.

  • The real loser in this whole fiasco– readers of your blog JC.
    Chefs/managers of Vegas– we need to enact a strict “Curtas not served here” policy in our restaurants. Too long has this so called “food critic” been suckling the tit of our city’s success whilst simultaneously biting the hand that feeds it. Why was this letter published in the first place? Were you trying to gain attention by forwarding a fantastic letter (a la Michelle Bachman)? Do you have some kind of bone to pick with ARK Vegas/Gallagher’s? Have you become a parody of yourself, that you need to not only “blog” on the restaurant news, but actually become the news yourself (a la Stephan Colbert)?
    Curtas, you’re a hack.
    You either telling us how great the meatloaf pot pie at some shit sack video poker bar in southern highlands is or you’re embarrassing all food critics by letting us know just how good the food is at Twist.
    Why dont you and Max Jacobson drive out to the Grand Canyon Sky Walk and throw each other off.

    anyone agree?

  • Whoa, @not a lawyer, I’m gonna have to say no, I don’t agree with your homicidal suggestions. You are clearly not a lawyer, as you show no signs of temperance, knowledge of idiomatic expressions (I believe it’s “suckling at the teet”), or logical reasoning capabilities (e.g. how might John go about throwing Max off the Sky Walk if Max has already thrown John? – I’ll let you ponder that one). And here’s a suggestion that might somewhat curb your rage toward ELV: stop reading his f-ing blog!!

  • your advice, thank you for. i love it!!

    sensitive to sarcasm, you aren’t. sorry, after the critique of my comment, i went straight to yoda for editing before posting. thank god for spell check because that jedi cant spell for shit, or is it crap?

  • what kind of pseudonym is “number 2” anyway?
    you’ve named yourself after poop.

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