It's gonna be Thursday again (restaurant mild rant)

Here’s the sitch: in the little town I live in, there are two diners within walking distance, one sub shop (attached to a 7-11) in walking distance, and one diner within easy driving distance (five minutes). Every other place one may wish to eat out in is a good half-hour away.

There’s a diner right around the corner from me. I’ll call it Jackie’s (not the real name, but a woman named Jackie co-owns it, and plays a major roll in this tiny drama).

My sister moved in with me about four months ago. She has breast cancer. She’s had surgery, and is currently undergoing chemo treatments. She doesn’t know from one day to the next what her tummy will tolerate. But she could always tolerate (and even love) Jackie’s chicken noodle soup. So about six weeks ago, I was at Jackie’s on a Thursday. I used to go there every Thursday, for lunch, because they serve this awesome bean with ham soup, with a big slab of home-made corn bread, and a soft drink, for $6.00. I asked, while I was there eating bean soup, what other soups they had that day. They said ‘chicken noodle’. Immediately, I called home to talk to my sis. She said to bring her three carry-out orders of chicken noodle soup, plus a vanilla shake.

As soon as I got home, I put the containers of soup on the counter and handed her the shake. When she went to open the soups later, two of them had broken/cracked lids. Broth had run all over the bag. Two of them had no chicken whatsoever. The third had one chicken dice. She immediately called the restaurant. The girl who answered the phone said they’d send out replacements immediately. Then a few minutes later, the same girl called back, very apologetic. Seems Jackie herself dished up that to-go order and everything was fine when it left the diner, therefore, whatever went wrong must have gone wrong between the diner and the apartment. They would be happy to replace the soup, but only if we were willing to pay for it.

Ummmm, no. I walked straight home from the diner. Didn’t drop the bag, slam it into a wall, etc. So we kinda decided we wouldn’t give them as much business as we had been.

Fast forward a few weeks. I told my 10YO mudgirl we could go out to dinner, the two of us, wherever (close-by) she wanted. She wanted Jackie’s. I ordered my BLT on whole wheat and a bowl of chili. Mudgirl ordered off the kid’s menu: chicken nuggets and fries. That runs $3.50, but a drink is not included. I had also told her, before we ordered, that she could order dessert.
So our dinners come. My BLT was fine, and the chili was good (though for some reason, even though they charge you the same price, if you order a side with your sandwich, they don’t give you the chips they list on the menu). But mudgirl’s dinner was three chicken nuggets, not much bigger around than a quarter, I swear. And a handful of fries. I mentioned something to the waitress about the serving size being tiny. A little while later, I notice Jackie making her rounds in the place. Finally she gets to our table, and the convo went like this:
Jackie: How is everything?
Me: Well, mine is fine. But hers, well, the nuggets are tiny, and there are only three of them. And that’s a very small order of fries.
Jackie: Well, the children’s menu is meant for, like, three-year-olds.
Me: Well, it says ‘10 and under’. . .
Jackie: Well, children 10 and under can order from it. . .but it’s really meant for very young children.
Me: I see. Well, this, combined with the problems that my sister had a couple of weeks ago, makes me wonder about management decisions. . .(PS: this is a very small town. Please be assured that when I said “my sister”, she knew exactly who and what I was talking about).
Jackie: How about some dessert?!?
Mudgirl: what do you have today?
Jackie: Well, our special today is cherry chip cake. It’s a cherry pound cake with chocolate chips.
Mudgirl: I’ll try that!
Jackie: I’ll get it for you!

So I had thought that maybe she meant to give us the cake, to kind of compensate. But no. She didn’t write it on our check. But when we checked out, Jackie herself rang us up. And charged for the cake.

At that point, I decided to boycott the place entirely. It’s not like they’re the only game in town.

But dammit, in two days, it’s going to be Thursday again. And I won’t get the bean and ham soup with corn bread! :frowning:

If it’s a small town where everyone is more or less friends, don’t be passive aggressive about it. Just tell Jackie your concerns, and that you’re considering not coming back.

I don’t know… I’m kinda on the restaurant’s side here.

I’d bet that the soup was likely packed well enough but it doesn’t take much to cause soup to spill, just a little swing of the bag here and there can cause massive sloshing inside. Why should they pay to replace the soup?

As far as the other thing, if your daughter is wanting adult-sized portions, it’s probably time to graduate from the kids menu.

I always wondered what kinds of problems people in those tiny little towns had.

You are correct, it doesn’t take much for soup to spill. I’m a caterer and we wrap our soup (for 10 to 12 people) at least four times in saran wrap in addition to saran wrap over the top and an aluminum foil lid and it still leaks. Every time. However, chicken noodle soup should have chicken in it. There’s no excuse for that.

Also, if the kids portion is meant for very young children, then it should say so. I’m sure that if the OP would have had the expectation of a smaller portion size then she wouldn’t have minded ordering off the regular menu for her daughter.

As to the OP, I got upset at one of my favorite clothing companies that I have spent lots of $$$ with over the years. They did diddly squat for me in regards to my valid complaint and sometimes I wish I could still shop with them but I’m standing on principle and shopping elsewhere still.

To me, as a small business owner myself, I’d think they could have at least offered some sort of compensation for the soup. If it can’t be transported without spilling, they shouldn’t offer it to go. Plus, as Sticks and Scones says, it’s chicken noodle soup, it should have, uh, y’know, chicken in it. My sister was in the custom of ordering from there four or five times a week, when I was out for lunch, if she didn’t like the looks or sounds of anything we had in the house, etc. Plus, I’d go there at least once a week after the school bus ran, for breakfast. And was in the habit of taking my daughter there for dinner once a week. Plus my weekly bean soup visit. You’d think it would be cheaper to replace a couple of bowls of chicken noodle soup (or even to comp us half, which would have satisfied us) than to alienate us altogether.

Well, she orders from the kids menu at other restaurants all the time, and we’ve never had a problem. If anything, she ends up with leftovers. If the portions are that tiny, they should note it on the menu.

Plus, when Jackie came around and asked us if everything was OK, I told her my concerns. She didn’t do anything about them. That’s her right, as a business owner. But if she doesn’t give a damn if everything is OK, she shouldn’t ask, imho.

Seriously, it’s not like this is going to change my life dramatically. I was just decrying my ability to get rockin’ bean soup on Thursdays. :frowning:

If Jackie’s chicken soup is one of the few things your sister can tolerate while she’s on chemo, I think it would be worth trying again.

It sounds like the issue isn’t as much spillage but chicken soup that left the restaurant without containing any actual chicken. Even if the container cracked and all the broth leaked out, you could still fix it up by adding some canned Swanson’s broth to stretch what’s left. Chicken soup without chicken is another matter.

In your shoes, I’d give it another shot but ask Jackie if I could bring my own lidded Tupperware container for the take out portion(s) of soup so that they don’t spill on the way home. If you use one of the clear or translucent ones, you can see if there is chicken in it before you leave the restaurant. But, if there’s no chicken in the next order, I consider starting a new family tradition of Sunday afternoon chicken soup making at home.

I hope your sister is improving and that she has a full recovery soon!

Well, she asked me if everything was OK, I told her my concerns, and she did absolutely nothing about them.

I did run into her head waitress at the Dollar General, and she (the waitress) asked why we hadn’t been in. I told her. She said she’d pass the word along.

Jackie and I have never been “friends”. She owns the restaurant. Until a couple of months ago, she owned the laundromat at the end of my block. The laundromat is closed now, but she always has considered herself to be kind of “above” her clientele, because she owns the businesses.

Having the experiences I have had, I have no reason to believe she’d do anything at this point.

Huh. This must have posted while I was working on my last response (which, in all honesty, I was doing at the same time I was trying to do five other things, so it took me a while. . .)

This is a good idea, though. I’ll discuss it with my sister.

But yeah, it may just be time soon to make a slow cooker full of chicken noodle soup every couple of weeks!

And thanks for the wishes for a smooth recovery. It’s what we’re all hoping for!

For me, at that point, the decision is simple—I would NEVER spend another penny in this business, even if the bean soup was some of the best food I had ever eaten…

As a business owner, it would have cost her about 30 cents (seriously) to give your kid a few more nuggets, and it may have saved a customer’s (you) goodwill.

If she is so shortsighted to not get that simple concept, she is not someone who I would trust not to take other shortcuts, possibly involving sanitation and food handling issues.

To skimp on the kid,* in front of the kid* (aside from the other nonsense) is horrible.

Why did her other business close? My initial thought upon the switch from ‘chicken soup replacements on the house’ to ‘you’re gonna have to pay’ was that she was suddenly hurting for money because her business was not doing well, and so she was checking everything and trying to make and save money.

I am picturing you going in to get your soup on Thursday in these.

Hey, good soup is good soup.

This is my thought. Heck, she didn’t even have to offer more nuggets! A free piece of pie, or not charging me for my iced tea would have gone a long way toward making me feel better!

But yeah, bean soup or not, I won’t be eating in there again.

Yesterday, mudgirl graduated from elementary school; their graduation program was in the evening. Afterward, I offered her a celebration via dinner out, anyplace but Jackie’s!

I have told her why I’m not eating there anymore, but have also told her (my daughter, I mean) that if she has her own money and wants to spend it there, that’s her decision, and I won’t be angry with her if she decides to take some of her allowance (as she’s been known to do occasionally) and go there for ice cream or something.

Was your daughter’s portion size different from the last time you ate there? if the portion size had changed, then I think you would have had a legitimate beef. But if it was the first time she had ever ordered that offering, maybe that IS their standard size.

I probably would have given Jackie a second chance with the soup…maybe place an order for three more servings another time and take the time to open the bag, saying “I just want to check that these are sealed tight…you know what happened to me last time!” and open them up to see how much chicken there is in them before you leave. But sometimes, at the end of the night, there might not be as much chicken and noodles left as there is broth, and Jackie, being the penny-pincher she seems to be, just wanted to finish up the pot and not lose a sale because there wasn’t really any meat left…and then got defensive when you called her on it.

She had not ordered the chicken nuggets in the past, but has ordered off the children’s menu as long as we’ve lived here. Never had a complaint about the portion size before. In fact, when the waitress came around (before Jackie herself did), I pointed out the tiny size of the nuggets. The waitress agreed with me and went back to the kitchen to see if they had changed suppliers or something.

Good advice about the soup. I would point out, though, that it was not the end of the day when I ordered the soup to go. It was lunch time (about 1PM).
Now, their to-go orders of soup have never been as large as what you get in the restaurant itself (they charge you for a ‘bowl’ of soup, but the containers they use are about 30%-40% smaller than the restaurant’s soup bowls), but that’s not really bothered me. After all, if you really want a big ol’ bowl of soup, haul your ass out of the house and go to the restaurant, right? And they just order carry-out containers in bulk. Not their fault how big their carry-out bowls are.

I do like the idea of giving them one more chance on the chicken noodle (on days they have it; they don’t always), but taking my own Glad Ware container or something. That way, I can make sure it’s sealed tight. I could even sit down, order a bowl of soup (calling ahead to make sure they have chicken noodle) and then pour it into my container. After all, if they just served me a certain portion size, they shouldn’t be able to bitch about it, right?

Jackie is a bad restaurant owner. She clearly doesn’t value her customers. Ask your friends and neighbors, and I bet they may have the same complaints. Bottom line here is that you made a complaint and the management did nothing to compensate. It has nothing to do with who is right and who is wrong, its about making the customer happy. With the soup ordeal, she should have offered three more soups free of charge. With the nuggets, she should have made a few more at no charge, and not charged you for the desert that she offered you.

She knows you and your family come in frequently, so she should understand that this poor customer service is driving you away, and she is losing business. Sounds like her business is struggling, so maybe that will dawn on her soon, but if not, she will learn the lesson the hard way.

Now, If I were you, I would, I would go in Thursday for last bowl of your favorite soup. After you enjoy it, get Jackie’s attention and tell her that you are not happy with the service you have received. Don’t be angry about it, just tell her how you feel. If she continues to be rude or dismissive, inform her that you will not be doing business with her anymore.

and when you do the Crockpot soup: cook the noodles apart from the soup so they do not disintegrate into it :slight_smile: add them just before serving! (they’ll be fine kept for a few days, just not stewing all afternoon)

Thanks for the heads-up on that. I’ve never made noodle soup in a slow cooker before!

There’s a saying about unlucky incidents…“once is an accident, twice is coincidence, and three times is enemy action”.

If Jackie’s regularly packages its soups for takeout, then it’s their responsibility to have reliable containers for this. These containers should not be prone to leakage. Many restaurants are capable of finding containers that will CONTAIN liquids. It sounds like Jackie and/or her buyer are not on their toes on this one. If the restaurant knows that the containers are prone to leakage, then they should tell their customers so.

If the chicken soup contains almost no chicken bits, and Jackie herself dished up the orders, then it sounds like Jackie was counting on you getting those orders home, opening them up, and deciding not to make any fuss about it. She was wrong.

I am the first person to say that most restaurants serve too much on a plateful. However, I don’t think that three nuggets, even nuggets bigger than a quarter, is enough for most kids. And I think that a “kids menu” is mostly for kids who are in grade school, that is, kids between 5 and 12. Kids younger than that usually eat from the parent’s plate, and kids older than that will usually order an adult meal…and finish it, too. Assuming that you are recounting the conversation about dessert reasonably accurately, I would have thought that Jackie was offering dessert as a peace offering, and not expect to be charged for it.

I wouldn’t even give the restaurant another chance. It’s pretty clear that Jackie is penny wise and pound foolish. I’d certainly discuss this with my friends, too, and see if they’ve had bad experiences.

That was my assumption, given her tone of voice and phrasing (a cheerful “Well, how about dessert?”; if she had said “Did you folks save room for dessert?” or “Will you be having dessert?” I’d have made no such assumption. When she didn’t write the dessert on the bill, I was pretty certain that she was comping it; after all, they bake their cakes and pies there. How much does a slice of cake cost her?).

The stories I’ve heard haven’t been so much about bad service experience, as with the idea that their kitchen is less than ideally clean. The first time I heard such a story, it was from a disgruntled tenant I was evicting. She worked (at the time of the eviction) at the diner I posted about that’s just outside of town. She said she had worked for Jackie for two days, but gave up because the kitchen was ‘filthy’. I chalked it up to her being a generally disgruntled person, though, and continued eating at Jackie’s.

More recently, about six months ago, I had another tenant who worked for Jackie as a cook. She was Jackie’s cousin, and a couple of times she called me to tell me her rent would be late because Jackie was running short for pay roll, and so wasn’t going to pay family members for a few more days. That left kind of a bad taste in my mouth, since Jackie’s prices are not particularly low, and any time you walk in, at a ‘normal’ kind of meal-time, they are busy. And I know it’s not just a bunch of old or unemployed people sitting around all day reading the paper, talking and slurping down ‘endless cups’ of coffee, because Jackie has a strict policy about that: if you’re not eating, you get one refill on your coffee. Period.

But just a couple of weeks ago (since I stopped going there), a new tenant in Apt. 1 was just having a conversation with me, and happened to mention that he has known several people who’ve worked for Jackie and say her kitchen is dirty.

Now, I’ll grant you that my kitchen could use some help. But it’s my dirt, somehow that’s different. Plus, I know my dishes, pots, pans and prep surfaces are clean! I know no such thing about hers.