So, last night was my lovely wife’s birthday, and she invited the whole family to meet at Big Bad Bubba’s BBQ in downtown Merced.
This place has a lot going for it. There is a mechanical bull that the guests can ride, a cool indoor tree house, and an otherwise great theme that could really work out.
Unfortunately, there is a lot going wrong there as well. On Wednesday my lovely wife had called and made a reservation for our party (of nine people). When we got there last night, they stated they did not take reservations. I explained that this was not the case on Wednesday, and on further investigation on the hostess’ clipboard she did discover a “party of nine with no name”. However, “this was not a reservation, as they did not take reservations”. I replied that this was not explained when the telephone call was made, and that whoever did answer the phone on Wednesday gave no hint at this policy as he politely took down our details. I suggested that perhaps this individual should not be allowed to answer the phone in the future if he did not know the restaurant policy.
At this point I was becoming exasperated.
The staff were just repeating the argument that they did not take reservations. They were more interested in arguing that point than telling me how long a wait for a table would be. I had to ask them point blank 5 times how long the wait would be. The first few times the answer was a variation on the “we do not take reservations’ them (By this point I had grasped that concept). Then the 3rd and 4th time they explained how many parties were ahead of me, and that they are really busy and short staffed. Then the last time, they explained the wait would be 15 minutes.
Yes, thats right folks. They managed to upset my lovely wife, lecture me on company policy, when all they had to say is: “We are running a few minutes late getting, your table ready, but it will be ready for you in 15 minutes”. ‘
Now I cannot blame the hostess’ for this, as this is in my opinion a training problem. The management of the restaurant should be providing adequate training for these girls.
So we got our table, and we ordered our food. I have to admit that although others said they liked their food – I did not. I ordered the BBQ Combo, that includes some Beef Ribs, Pork Ribs, Chicken Breast and Texas Toast. The Beef Ribs were not cooked slow enough, and were tough as boots. They also had too much of a bitter smoke taste that the other food items did not. The Pork was better, but again, the ribs were too tough. The chicken was not appetizing at all. It looked dry and tasteless, and the mouthful I tried lived up to my first impressions. It was a shame, as the presentation was top notch, the plate came stacked like a huge sandwich. Also, whilst we are on a positive, the Nachos that we chose as an appetizer were actually very good.
Towards the end of the meal, the hostess presented me with the billm, whilst we were still eating, and without asking if any of us wished for dessert. I consider this the height of incivility at a restaurant. As it turned out the party did not wish for any more calories, and so I proceeded to hand over my card… When I got it back, they had added $30 gratuity. I really, really resent it when this happens. In my opinion, gratuity is relative to the level of service received. I am actually a good tipper, and always tip at least 15%. BUT, I want the option to choose my tip based on the level of service provided. Last night’s service did not warrant what turned out to be a 19% service charge.
However, as it was my lovely wife’s birthday, I was not going to make a scene, and just signed the check grumbling quietly to myself. I probably should have checked the menu before hand anyway. This practice is becoming more and more prevalent in todays’ restaurant world. I think this is a huge shame. As there is no longer the incentive for the waitress or waiter to provide good service, if the gratuity is coming to them no matter what.
Anyway, I will be returning to this restaurant again at some point to see if things improve. This restaurant location has not proven too successful over the years. I have seen 4 restaurants come and go since I moved to merced, and if my first impressions are the norm, we may be expecting a fifth departure…