Review a Restaurant with Kevin Contest - Winner

Written by: Caroline Floyd (Dis name: BeamsOfLight)

When the contest to win dinner by writing a review was first announced and I mentioned it to a couple of friends, the universal response was “Oh! You should write about Dave & Buster’s! Except no one will believe you…”  Several people who were actually there for the dinner, who’ve been helping me to remember some of the details, have said that if they hadn’t been there, they’d think I was exaggerating.  So I offer as a foreword that the following is actually a true account of what happened, no exaggeration.  May I live to be 100 and never step foot in World Showcase again if I’m stretching the truth.

The event was last November; it was actually a joint birthday celebration for my husband and one of his friends.  Since we were amassing a fair-sized group to go out with, we picked a spot where we could have some fun and get something to eat all in one place.  Dave & Buster’s, for those not familiar with the chain, is like Chuck E Cheese for adults.  Sort of a sports bar-arcade-restaurant rolled into one.  Now, you wouldn’t go into Chuck E Cheese expecting really great food, and likewise I wouldn’t hold D&B’s to a gourmet standard, but their slogan is “Eat Drink Play”, so they must think their food is worth mentioning (or at least, not something to be embarrassed by).  Unfortunately, at least in the case of the D&B located in Marietta, Georgia, this is not the case.

We actually had a great time playing the games before we went into the restaurant to have dinner.  I was impressed that we were seated fairly quickly.  It was still very early evening, and a Sunday, so the restaurant area was pretty empty, but we were a group of about 15 people and they had us at a long table within about ten minutes, without having a reservation.  There was at least one other large-ish party seated across the restaurant – I think I counted 10 over there – and maybe one or two other tables of 4.  Definitely not a crowded afternoon.  That said, throughout our dining ‘experience’, there were 2 or 3 staff just hovering around the hostess stand.  I can’t help but think if another one of them had been assigned to help our server, things wouldn’t have gone the way they did.

Any time I dine with a large group, I’m willing to cut the server(s) a lot of slack in terms of wait times and having things delivered to the table all at the same time.  I know it’s hard to make 15 clocks chime at the same time, and as long as the server is obviously doing his or her best, if a few of the dishes are a little late, or someone’s drink refill is overlooked, I’m willing to let it go.  Keep that in mind as we go along.

To start out, our server seemed to be pretty on top of things.  He came for our drink orders pretty quickly, and got them to us fairly quickly.  I can’t (and won’t, because it would take forever) go through what everyone had, but several of us ordered cocktails to start.  I tried the Azul Margarita; Patron Silver tequila, blue curacao and fresh lime juice.  It was good.  Not great, and not worth the $10 I ended up paying for it, but not bad.  Unfortunately my ‘not bad’ margarita was the best thing that came to our table from the bar, as the people down the table who ordered Strawberry Daiquiri s had their glasses rimmed in salt instead of sugar and had to send them back.  This was the beginning of the end as far as the meal went.

By the time he had everyone’s drinks served, had taken our orders, and had replaced the daiquiris, some of the people across the table from me were ready for refills on their drinks.  Because they’d seated us at a very long table right against a wall, there was really no way for the server to walk around behind the opposite side to deliver their drinks.  Unfortunately, he decided the best way to handle that would be to balance the full tray of drinks on one arm, just over my head.  Really unfortunately, his balance stank.  While leaning over me to reach the other side of the table, he dumped the tray all down the back of my head, my back and side; two full glasses of iced tea, and one of water.  Lots of ice.

A little bit horrified by what he’d done, he quickly offered to show me to the bathroom to dry myself off, and did offer me a free t-shirt at that time.  I declined, figuring a) I could dry myself off and b) getting the ice cubes out of my shirt and pants took priority over getting a free shirt.  While I was off trying to towel myself off in the bathroom with the (extremely non-absorbent) paper towels – they had no hand dryer, my friends inform me that while the server brought a few extra napkins to the table, he didn’t attempt to help mop anything up.  My husband, who was also wet on one side now, was left to dry off our belongings and my chair, as well as his leg and arm, with the rest of the people around the table offering up their napkins to help.  Eventually one of them flagged down the server to ask where the heck I was, because he hadn’t told them, and one of my friends showed up in the bathroom to help wring out my hair.  This whole process took roughly 15 minutes (I have really long hair, and the paper towels weren’t cutting it with my jeans), but we emerged kind of annoyed and cold, but ready to eat.

Alas, our food hadn’t arrived by that point.  And didn’t arrive for about another half an hour.  The server did appear once during that time to ask if I was okay, and to thank me repeatedly (I assume for not freaking out on him – yet).  He also tried to lean over me –again- to pass drinks to the people across the table, and was quickly stopped by all the people around me (I couldn’t see him as he was right behind me again).

When the food finally came, it all seemed to be in good order – except for the fact that myself and the person directly across from me weren’t served.  ‘Fair enough’, I figured, ‘they didn’t have enough people to carry everything.  Not a big deal.’  And it wasn’t a big deal until about 10 minutes later when our server shows up to ask how everything was.  The exchange went like this:

Our server: How’s everything?  Everything okay?
Me: Um .. no?
Our server: (who’s standing behind me again, and can presumably see there’s no plate in front of me … or so you’d think)  “What’s wrong with it?”
Me: … we didn’t get anything??

Eyes widening a bit, he hurries off to track down our food, asking over his shoulder as he leaves, “What did you order again?”  I admit, I was starting to get a little irritated by this point, and I called back, “The FREE Parmesan Chicken Caesar?”  The look he gave me at that point really suggested to me it hadn’t occurred to him to comp my meal, even after he’d drenched me with drinks.  We were all a little surprised by that (and to be honest, if the meal had gone smoothly after that first incident, I probably wouldn’t have pressed the issue.  Call me a softie, but accidents happen and I could have let it go if things had been fine afterward.)   After another 8-ish minutes, he returns with my salad, and the person-across-from-me’s cheesesteak.  On to the food then.

My “Parmesan-crusted Chicken Caesar” wasn’t bad, and could have been really good if the chicken hadn’t been lukewarm.  I assume it was supposed to be hot, and had just been sitting so long it’d cooled off.  It certainly wasn’t refrigerator cold, so I can only guess it wasn’t supposed to be served cold.  It was also sadly missing the promised ‘cheese-garlic croutons’; just salad, a few strips of room temperature chicken and Caesar dressing from a jar.  It could have been a lot better than it was, and I would have considered sending it back if I figured I’d ever see it again.  By the time we got our two late orders, the people around us were finishing their meals as well, and I had no desire to draw out the dinner any further.

One of the other diners to my left had also ordered a cheese steak, which he reported as being ‘pretty tasty’.  Unfortunately for the person across from me, there seemed to be a cheese shortage in the kitchen, because his cheese steak arrived without a single piece of cheese on it.  Not a crumb, not a particle.  Like me, he didn’t care to send it back at that point because we were already so far behind the others.  It was at this point that we were all pretty sure the Candid Camera people were going to jump out at any moment, but unfortunately they didn’t.

Next to him, another friend of mine had ordered a burger ‘medium well’.  She showed me the inside at one point and I’m fairly certain given sufficient determination the burger could have crawled off her plate under its own power.  She ended up eating the parts of the bun that weren’t soaked in blood, and her French fries (which she reported as ‘not bad’).  Next to her, another friend was trying to enjoy her “Grilled Chicken Club -
Marinated and grilled sliced chicken, crisp bacon, Havarti and Cheddar cheeses, lettuce, tomatoes, and secret sauce on toasted Italian Panini bread. Served with French fries.”  Trying to, because the ‘Italian Panini bread’ they were using was in fact rock-hard toasted slices of Wonder bread.  She was able to bite through it, but it cut up her gums in the process.

We’d now been working at this meal for roughly an hour.  My hair was getting stiff and sticky from the sugar in the iced tea.  My back (and backside) were cold.  We were about ready to go back to playing games and forgetting about this whole mess.  Shortly before my dinner actually arrived, the server stopped by to say he was ‘trying to get the manager to comp my meal’.  I informed him he was free to send the manager over to talk to me if he was having problems.  Half way through dinner, someone – who never identified herself – appeared behind me and asked if things were all right.  Seeing as I had no clue who she was, I just sort of nodded, and she looked around nervously and started to leave again, before thinking better of it and coming back to say “We’re gonna take your meal off the bill.”  Apparently she was the ‘stealth manager’ or something; in any case, I thanked her and went on with my cold chicken.

At long last, people started asking for their bills, and at longer last they started to receive them.  Basically at any point during the meal, whether you were asking for a drink, bottle of ketchup, to-go boxes, anything, you had about a 15 to 40 minute wait.  After an hour of waiting on their to-go boxes, one friend took the initiative to go get them himself (we could see them from the table – I can only assume this means his food was actually decent enough to take home).  I will acknowledge that we had sort of a complicated billing situation, as it was a large group, and there were a number of separate checks.  But most of them arrived in an orderly fashion.  The one that didn’t appear was the one for my husband and myself.

After about half an hour of waiting for –that-, I went up to the hostess stand and asked the girl standing there, staring into space, to find the manager and send her over.  To my surprise, another woman appeared at the table in fairly short order (not the manager who’d come over before), and listened to my, by that point, litany of complaints about the meal.  I would hasten to add that I didn’t raise my voice, nor was I rude to her, I just explained very clearly that we were not pleased with the service, and why.  She confirmed that my meal would be taken off the bill, and insisted I take the free t-shirt.  I’m not entirely sure why advertising for Dave & Buster’s was supposed to be compensatory for ice in my pants, but I wasn’t interested in arguing anymore.  And that, we thought, should have been that.  If you’ve read this far, I suspect you know better.

10 minutes pass…  20…  30…  still no sign of our bill.  Several of the other people at the table have already paid and gotten their change.  One is anxiously awaiting the return of her credit card, which has been missing for 25 minutes or so.  At this point, the server reappears with a bussing tub to start clearing the table.  Apparently some people are very, very slow to learn a lesson, and our server, bless him, was one of them.  While balancing the tub of dishes on one hand, he leaned forward and the entire full tub crashed to the floor, sending shards of glass and porcelain dish flying.  I actually felt rather bad for him at this point, because I’m sure he already knew that he was getting very few tips from this table, and had already been chewed out by at least one manager, but honestly, he never did anything to attempt to redeem himself, and made matters worse by barely bothering to actually wait on us.
40 minutes…  still no sign of our bill.  The server came back to gather up the other dishes (though he made no attempt to clean up the broken china on the floor), and I ask where our bill is.  He says the manager is handling it.  50 minutes.  I go back to the hostess stand to ask for the manager –again-.  I’ve asked for a manger in a restaurant once before that night; now I’m up to 4 times because of this one meal.  The manager appears at 60 minutes or so, and says the server will bring the bill.  She also informs me that they can’t take my margarita off the bill because it’s “against the law”.  This may very well be true, I have no idea, but I was a little miffed as that was easily the most expensive part of my meal (though to be fair, it’s the only part I enjoyed).  70 minutes.  Server appears again and again I ask him where the bill is.  At this point, he copped an attitude about it, saying he “was just trying to look after us.”  Again, he insisted the manager would bring the bill.  Now, it takes a lot to get me mad, but don’t drop a tray of drinks down my back, proceed to foul up the rest of the meal, and then get snippy after you keep me waiting for my bill for a meal I don’t even want to pay for, for over an hour.  I tell him to tell the manager if we don’t have the bill in 5 minutes we’re leaving.

Lo and behold, the bill appears within 2 minutes … and it’s wrong.  They’re trying to charge us for a beer that someone three seats down had had, as well as the 18% gratuity.  I don’t really remember how but my husband got that sorted out, finally.  It’d been an hour and a half we waited to pay our bill.  My hair had frozen into a weird iced-tea sculpture by this point, and half of the people at the table were livid.  We left without further ado.

I realize everyone, every restaurant, is entitled to a bad day, and they were certainly having one.  During the long wait for our bill, I observed the other 10-top table also talking to the manager who’d brought me the free shirt – rather more loudly than we’d been talking to her.  I wouldn’t be surprised if no one at that table paid, from the ruckus they were making.  Under normal circumstances, I would never hold a server responsible for the bad food (although, to be honest, I think he should have noticed the cheese steak had no cheese), but the combination of lack luster food and comically terrible service made this the worst dining experience I’ve ever had, or ever hope to have.  I don’t know if it was just a completely disastrous off day, or typical for their service, but we won’t be going back to find out.

My pet ferrets, however, are enjoying sleeping in the t-shirt.

Discrepancies or Corrections? Please let us know.