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Friday, March 23, 2007


I had a traumatic experience at Applebee's today. This is the letter I sent to their corporate headquarters:

I have been eating at Applebee's for several years. I have gone to this particular Applebee's several times for take-out since I started working in the area. I am really hoping that you can make this right so that I'll want to go back, but I'm just not sure after the experience that I had today.

I went with two co-workers for lunch today. We had planned ahead of time, so we didn't have to look at the menu too long. When the waiter asked us if we wanted to order our food with our drinks, we did so hoping to beat the lunch rush, because we only get an hour for lunch.

Our drinks came back rather quickly. I wish I could say the same for the food, but we never did see our food today. We waited and waited. People who came after us got their food after us. We watched them bring out dozens of entrees and still we waited. Realizing that our lunch hour was almost up, we stopped our waiter and told him we only had a few minutes left and could he please just box our food up so we could take it back to the office and eat it there. Our waiter said he'd check on our food, but not before he stopped and took his tips off his other tables. Even after we told him that we'd waited a long time and were in a major time crunch.

After several more minutes of not seeing our food or our waiter, we stopped another server and told her to get the manager. The manager, Erynn Hawkins, arrived at our table and told us that it "would not even be worth our time" to wait for our food at this point.

That's not what I wanted to hear. She needed to make it worth our time. We'd ordered 45 minutes prior (which we'd told her) and other people who were seated at the same time or after us had eaten and were leaving. I'm not sure what happened to our order, but we didn't have time to leave and go somewhere else, and we were still hungry.

I don't know where the breakdown in communication was. She made excuses. She said it was busy. And we understand that, but there's really no good reason it should take 45 minutes to get your food at any restaurant. Especially not when people are on their lunch breaks. Anyhow, we told her that we needed to eat and we didn't have time to go anywhere else. She said that she'd expedite our food and we'd have it in 10 minutes and she'd box it up so we could eat it at our desks. She also took our names and said that our next meal (not the one we were waiting for, but our next visit) would be on Applebee's.

Ten minutes came and went. We still didn't have any food. After 20 minutes, we finally just left. We ended up stopping at Burger King on the way back to the office. Not exactly a great ending to a special trip to lunch with our co-workers that we'd been looking forward to all week.

I have gone to restaurants where my order's gotten lost or they were out of an item or something else, and I've never been treated this way before. The waiter was unattentive and unapologetic. The manager just chalked it up to being busy. This just wasn't acceptable. The least she could've done was offered us an appetizer or something while we'd waited. Actually, no. The least she could've done was refreshed our drinks which were warm and almost empty and no one seemed to care. We were hungry and we thought we were going to have to go back to the office hungry. It amazes me that I was treated better ordering $3 worth of food at Burger King than I was ordering $20 worth of food at Applebee's. I've just never seen a manager who was so dismissive and not interested in making it right so we'd have a great experience.

Not only was it inconvenient to not get any food after waiting for almost an hour and having to go elsewhere, it was embarrassing. The other guests had all seen us wait there for all this time. A woman at the next table said to me, "I was just going to take this home to my dog, but you can have it if you want." as she attempted to hand me her to-go box. That's humiliating. No one else waited as long as we did. The table next to us turned over and the second family had ordered their food and ours still had not been delivered.

The manager did offer us that free dinner for next time, but that'd require me to go back to that store, and I just can't foresee that happening anytime soon. Perhaps if they'd been more apologetic and more anxious to fix the situation. When we ended up leaving without our food, we tried to find someone to tell them that we no longer needed our order, and there was not one employee available. I understand there's a lunch rush, but that's ridiculous. This was easily, hands down, the absolute worst experience that I’ve ever had in a restaurant. Ever.

And as for the manager who told us it wasn’t worth our wait? She needed to make it worth our wait. But right now, I feel like she is very, very correct. I won’t be wasting my time at Applebee’s anytime soon.

3 comment(s):

they seem to have openings at Waffle House all across the South. That manager seems to be just the caliber of employee I have encountered. Perhaps you should drop off a WH application to her.

By Blogger trying2hide, at 3/24/2007 4:34 PM  

Wow I am glad our experience was better than that even though she did feel the need to remind us several times that it was Sunday so there was NO alcohol. Did we look like a couple of alcoholics or what? Sorry that you had such a crappy lunch experience. When you are on a time schedule you really just want your order so you are not late coming back from lunch.

By Blogger rosalie, at 3/25/2007 10:58 AM  

OH WOW!!! Sorry to hear you had such a horrible experience. I wonder if you will hear anything back from the person you sent the latter to. I am like you. I wouldn't care if that manager gave me ten free meals. The fact that you didn't get your lunch... not even to go, is enough reason that would keep me away.

By Blogger Gerbera Daisy, at 3/26/2007 7:32 AM  

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