What pushes you over the edge?

Bebo Trattoria
Originally uploaded by Samer Farha

My Dad was in town for a conference recently, staying in Crystal City. I thought Bebo Trattoria would be a delicious place to take him, I have loved Roberto Donna’s crispy pizza and savory pastas in the past. We were ushered into our seats and then promptly forgotten about, waiting more than 15 minutes with not so much as a nod from a waiter. I caught the attention of person who appeared to be the manager and even motioned to the table, and he waved me away.

So we got up and left. It’s rare that I’ll just up and bail on a place, sometimes good food is worth suffering bad service, but having NO SERVICE whatsoever made me pretty angry, so mad that I left. Other tables around us had seemingly no waiter either, though few of them chose to walk out. Some got up and found the manager, and loudly demanded service, others just sat quietly and waited. Everyone had a different reaction to the lack of wait staff.

That got me to wondering – what bad restaurant behaviors make your blood boil? I know we all have a different tolerance of service, and different things that send us over the edge. What experiences make you inclined to leave no tip, or to even walk out of a place? How bad does it have to get for you to make a statement, and what happened when you did?

Katie moved to DC in 2007, and has since embarked upon a love affair with the city. She’s an education reform advocate and communications professional during the day; at night and on the weekends, she’s an owner here at We Love DC. Katie has high goals to eat herself through the entire city, with only her running shoes to save her from herself. For up-to-the-minute news and reviews (among other musings), follow her on Twitter!

4 thoughts on “What pushes you over the edge?

  1. Bebo Trattoria is well known on the local foodie boards and on the blogs for their terrible service.

    *checks database*
    - @ Oceannaire – a waiter put a bib on my date, against her will.
    - @ Brasserie Beck – waiter assumed that it was a special occassion (it was wednesday lunch – haven’t been back since.)
    - @ Lawson’s on G- Street – Can I have a brownie, counter person said no.

    - Counter Order service (generally) @ Tackle Box/Ray’s Hell Burgers – “We’ve got plenty of seats” – waits 10 minutes for other people to finish eating.

    - ABP and Cosi – more people that didn’t realize how busy they’d get, and how much money they lose when people are reticent to return because of how long it takes (think the dc lunch crowd that eats in front of their monitors on strict timed breaks)

    - Dunkin Donuts all over the Urrea – you can’t see the donuts if you’re in line. (which is only a problem if you want donuts, DD is actually a coffee place – so this is more my fault than theirs)
    - Belga – we’ll seat you, just wait @ the bar – lol, if I had a dollar for everytime someone pulled the “wait @ the bar” trick.
    - Good Stuff Eatery – another planning fiasco – wait in line forever, to order a burger, and then wait forever – where you may or may not get a seat.
    - Nando’s – the columns obstruct the view from the register to the front door, which is not a problem when you have a dedicated host @ the front. But they don’t (and can’t), creating a lot of “where do I go” chaos. Throw in the bizarre “remember your table” ordering system…

    There’s tons of ill conceived restaurants where the powers that be don’t realize that a good/hot/new restaurant needs to be designed to move people in and out.

    Add to that an over-worked and under-appreciated waitstaff (who can get quite surly), and management that recognizes they’re the only game in town – many restaurants at many price points can afford to be bad.

  2. Two things immediately come to mind (mostly because they both happened on the same recent dine out).

    One: The incredibly chipper server. I appreciate a server who’s pleasant and attentive as much as the next guy, but there’s a thin line between being pleasant and killing someone with kindness when the situation doesn’t really warrant it. Then it just smacks of insincerity and sometimes even condescension.

    Two: The rush to serve you. When I go to a restaurant — alone or with others — it’s to enjoy a meal and perhaps a drink or two. In other words, to relax. I don’t want to feel hurried when I’m eating. Aren’t you supposed to have time between the appetizer and the main course? It’s particularly irritating when the main course arrives at the same time as the appetizer.

  3. Oh god, Bebo Trattoria is so amazingly bad when it comes to service. It’s a shame because the one meal I had there was actually pretty good… pity it took so many hoops to jump through in order to get it! At one point we began to wonder if the waitstaff was actually walking through the back door and taking a plane to Italy to get the kitchen.

    Nothing makes my blood boil more than bad service, especially inattentive service. Bebo Trattoria has that in spades.

  4. @ anonymous coward – that’s QUITE a list. nice compilation.

    @ Greg – they totally did go to Italy. and never came back.