Horrible restaurant experiences


Original poster
Oct 27, 2007
Los Angeles, CA
I need to vent about a horrible restaurant experience that I had last night, so I figured what better way than to start a thread......

Sorry for the long OP....it just kind of got away from me :p

Our 7 year wedding anniversary was a couple of weeks ago. We waited until my mother-in-law arrived for a visit (so she could babysit) so that we could go out and celebrate. My wife made reservations for Saturday night at 8:30pm at a nice little French restaurant in the area. We don't get to go out just the two of us much because of our 2 year old, so we were really looking forward to this night out.

We arrived at the very busy restaurant just before 8:30 and checked in. The owner/host told us that we would be seated in 10 minutes, and pointed to a place for us to wait. 10 minutes isn't unreasonable for a busy restaurant, so we waited. I can understand that they may not be exactly on time because they can't fully control when people get up from their tables so they can seat the next customers.

So 20 minutes goes by, and at this point I'm staring at the host with my arms crossed. He walks in our general direction, and when he passes, he says it'll be a few more minutes. I remind him that he told us it would only be 10 minutes and that at this point it's already been 20. He shrugs and sort of says sorry, and walks away.

Finally, it appears that we're next, and a nice booth for two is being cleared (presumably for us). The only other people waiting is a couple who just arrived (at around 8:55pm). The table is ready and......he directs the newly arrived couple to that table. WTF?

When he comes back, I ask him why he gave them our table.

Him: "Their reservation was before yours."
Me: "No it wasn't. Ours was at 8:30, and they just got here. We've been waiting for 30 minutes already."
Him: "You made your reservation today."
Me: "No we didn't, we made it 3 days ago, and what does that have to do with anything?"
Him: "They're regulars, so.....y'know."
Me: "I don't care if they're regulars. We have a reservation. Why do you take reservations? And, anyway, how do you know that we weren't going to become regulars? Is their money better than ours?"
Him: "Just wait another 10 minutes. I'll give you free drinks or dessert.":rolleyes:
Me: "Sorry, that's not going to make up for how you've disrespected us."
Him: "I didn't disrespect you."
Me: "Yes you did. Don't take reservations if you aren't going to honor them. We will not be dining here and giving you our money. You don't deserve it for treating us like that. And I will be sure to write unfavorable reviews about this so other potential new customers will go somewhere else."
Him: "So what." <- that's basically what he said here, I don't remember the exact words.

Once we were outside, my wife was so upset by how we were treated, that she said that she was going to cry. I decided to let the owner know that....so I told him that this was supposed to be a night to celebrate our 7th anniversary, and instead of celebrating, he made my wife cry. He shrugged. That was all.

Fortunately, there is a happening Greek restaurant next door, so we went in and asked for a table. I told the manager about what happened, and he rolled his eyes and said that he's not surprised- we weren't the first ones to come to his restaurant after something like that happened next door. We enjoyed the food, the music, the singing and the dancing there. After the meal and after I paid, the manager asked us if we'd like coffee and dessert on him. We declined because we were already really full. But that's class.....it wasn't even his problem, but he still wanted to make it up to us.

I think that the only way we would have stayed at the French restaurant would have been if the owner had apologized and admitted he made a mistake, and if he offered to comp our entire meal. But of course, that didn't happen, and I'm glad that we have the integrity to not take crap like that from anyone. Obviously, we will not be going back there.

Even though our night was salvaged, it still really bothered us that we were treated that way. So that kind of hung over the entire night. We know it wasn't anything personal, it just sucks to be on the receiving end of that.

Also, I understand that you have to treat your loyal customers well, but there is a time and a place for that. When you know that you have new customers (read: new money) patiently waiting 30 minutes past their reservation time, you don't seat other people who clearly arrived after the new customers. That just shows how little you think of your customers. All he needed to do was to tell those people that he needed to seat us because we had been waiting for a long time, and that they would be next. Since they are regulars, and know him and the restaurant, they would have understood.

tl;dr we were treated like crap and decided to take our business elsewhere.

Feel free to use this thread to vent about any bad restaurant experiences that you've had.

macbook pro i5

macrumors 65816
May 13, 2011
New Zealand
This was a good read,And the fact that the greek restaurant owner did that for you,Shows that there still is kindness in the world.

Anyway I am fortunate enough not to be treated that bad.


macrumors 68000
Jun 20, 2010
Twin Cities
I hate when things like this happen at restaurants. I think you handled it very well and that restaurant dropped the ball. Too many times I've been treated poorly and taken it out of the tip when in reality some other aspect of the restaurant caused the problem (bad food, long wait, etc). Making your case and then leaving were the right thing to do. I'm glad it turned out well for you too. Happy Anniversary.


Moderator emeritus
Jul 28, 2003
Citizens Bank Park
I only give restaurants one opportunity to make a mistake and not apologize and atone for it, before they are on "my list." I always expect great service, and anything less is unacceptable. It's my money, I'll spend it elsewhere. As for the Greek restaurant, they would definitely be added to my good list.

This could all have been avoided if you let your wife babysit while you went out drinking with friends. ;)


macrumors 6502
Jun 23, 2010
Los Angeles
Wow what a crazy story. I am terribly sorry for your experience. I'll share you mine at a local Dennys back in 1997.

I was 7 years old at the time, so I don't fully remember what kind of argument my mom got into with the manager. But I do remember very vividly that we had ordered cheeseburgers, and it took them 45 minutes to make them, only to come out with dinner rolls as buns because they had run out. Along with the wait, our food was made at such unreasonable quality my mom stood right up and asked for the manager, that we were going to leave on-the-spot. After an angry letter to Denny's, we were compensated with a free dinner later on. I don't think we ever took that dinner, only because we didn't want to dine at that Denny's ever again.

On a side note, I was recently at a local bar and grill near my apartment here on campus, and we were seated while renovations were under way. Their menu had changed so they didn't have official ones, only slips of paper. We ordered, but were on a time-crunch because we had tickets to see The Avengers two hours later. We waited for over 50 minutes after we ordered, and another group who showed up a half hour after us got food within 10 minutes, before we did. We were angry and demanded our food soon because we were going to be late to a movie, so they actually gave us receipts for the COST of the food before we even saw our plates. That was when we gave up and just left. All 8 of us - gone in a flash. We didn't look back.


macrumors 604
Oct 26, 2008
I am tired of lousy service. I have started to bring cash with me as a back up.
Lousy service lousy tip, I pay cash.
Good service at least a 20% tip.
Food comes out wrong, I request an immediate visit by the manager and request a refund for the meal. I refuse to wait or make the people I am with wait.
If they don't refund the meal, I jot down the person I spoke with. I sent an email. Then I call American express once the charge posts and dispute it.
It pisses off the restaurant.
My tolerance/patience for lousy service has dwindled over the years.


macrumors 603
Mar 22, 2010
I remember when I was a about 10 years old (i'm 20 now) my family was on vacation in Inner Harbor, MD and we decided to go to this seafood restaurant for dinner. Like the OP's story, we waited and waited and waited for nearly an hour for our table. While we were waiting they brought my parents to drinks in order to entice them to stay bla bla bla. After over and hour we finally sat down to eat around 7 and shortly after we ordered. When the food came 8:30, an hour and a half after ordering, it was all wrong. The wrong meal was served for my dad and sister and my mom's was awful. We called a manager over and he refused to recook the meals and said he didn't see anything wrong. At this point, my parents were furious. I was 10 and I have 3 younger siblings, ages 8, 6, and 3 at the time. My sister started crying lol (8yo) and the 3 year old fell asleep. My parents said basically enough is enough and we stood up to walk out and the manager of the restaurant came up behind my mom and grabbed her arm pleading for us to stay. I though my dad was going to have a stoke the way his face turned red. There wasn't a riot, but it was pretty close. My mom stopped at the food store on the way back to the hotel and we had bagels and cream cheese at 10:00 at night for dinner. It's one of the events of a family vacation I will never forget.


Original poster
Oct 27, 2007
Los Angeles, CA
The food at the Greek restaurant was really good. We had been there before, so we knew what to expect.

Greek beer:

Calamari and dolmadakia:

Roasted spring lamb:


macrumors 68000
Apr 23, 2008
Pennsylvania, USA
I have a high tolerance for errors if an apology is sincere. Who wants to get involved in a conflict when you're out for a good time? It ruins the rest of the evening.

This situation is very different because it was intentional unfairness. I would have walked out and never returned and told everyone I knew about it.


Moderator emeritus
Sep 8, 2010
...Bad restaurant experience...
That stinks, and I'm sorry to hear your anniversary dinner went the way it did, but I am glad the neighboring restaurant came through for you. Did you give reviews on Yelp for each restaurant?

Happy 7th anniversary Mr. & Mrs. Surely! :)


macrumors Core
Jan 6, 2004
i've had plenty of similar experiences and it just sucks. i'm glad that you guys were able to make the most of it though and that things worked out well in the end. you always hear about how the restaurant business is to tough, etc, but its usually because of bad service. bad service = bad experiences = bad reviews = no business. you'd think people would have a clue by now though.


macrumors 68040
Mar 2, 2009
Waterloo & Georgian Bay, Canada
Good to read your story, you handled it well.

It's the principal of the matter. Good service is increasingly hard to find nowadays ... If everyone handled bad service the way you did there would be less problems with service ... restaurants would have to take note and give a damn.

Be sure and email the place a copy of your review.


Original poster
Oct 27, 2007
Los Angeles, CA
^^^^that's a good idea....I probably will email the review to them.

I will most definitely be writing reviews on the various restaurant review websites.

I will be writing two reviews, and both will be honest:

  • one for the French restaurant
  • one for the Greek restaurant

Both will get what they deserve.


macrumors 603
Apr 19, 2004
I hope a certain member doesn't rediscover MR and this thread. :p

Anyway, nothing close to any of the stories in this thread. I can understand going past their estimated wait time as no one can predict when people will leave and the table is cleaned. Just as long as they are honest, sincerely apologize, etc when I ask for an update I will be content. I think the longest I have waited for our food was close to 45 minutes, but the restaurant was super packed that night. Agitated(due to hunger), but the food was good. Haven't really had that bad of service either. Occasionally my water glass will be empty longer that I expect.

Maybe I have lucked out or can't remember any horrific restaurant experiences.....


macrumors G5
Aug 1, 2004
St. Louis, MO
Had one yesterday, I don't know if I'd consider it horrible, and it probably won't keep me from going back (the food is really good), but it was pretty poor.

We get there and they were pretty busy, no surprise for a nice Saturday night. They don't take reservations, so it's a 25 minute wait. No big deal. 40 minutes goes by, we ask what's the hold up. Turns out, we wouldn't be seated for another 30 minutes, and they're so busy that the kitchen is backed up and it would be an hour wait for food. No thanks. We went somewhere else instead. This place is always busy, and they've been around forever, they should know by now how many kitchen staff they need on hand to keep up.


macrumors 603
Oct 22, 2007
An Island in the Salish Sea
Expo 1986, Vancouver.

Two friends and I were at Expo, and decided to have dinner in a French Restaurant that had been getting good reviews. Typically, our culinary tastes tended more toward burgers and beers - but we decided that this was a great opportunity to expand our taste-bud horizons - so in we trooped.

The menu was in French, naturally. And not cheap. But we are there for the adventure, and we 3 anglophones deciphered the menu enough to order dinner without getting anything too weird, we hoped.

Dinner came... didn't see any frog-legs or snail-shells so we tucked in and were actually enjoying ourselves. Just before we finished the server came over and told us that she had brought the wrong meals over. We told the server it was OK, and that we were enjoying the meal .... And that's when we were told we going to be charged extra because the meals were more expensive than what we had ordered. Our chins hit the table.... "How does that work?" We asked. Apparently we were supposed to tell the server that it was the wrong food when it arrived. We explained that since we didn't really know what it was we ordered in the 1st place we had no way of knowing whether we had received the right food.

Nope... we were going to have to pay more for the more expensive meals. Unfortunately for the restaurant, we were all in the hotel business and we knew this was wrong, and how it should have been handled.

So we asked for the manager, who came over. Manager took the server's side. We refused, after explaining that we had purposely ordered food we weren't familiar with. Wasn't that the whole point of bringing the world to Vancouver for Expo?

We were very calm, 'cause we knew ultimately we were going to win the argument. (By this time we were standing up, at the table. This makes sure everyone in the restaurant starts to take an interest in what is happening, even if our voices were low. But the manager feels like they are in a gold-fish bowl.) He argued with us for about 10 minutes - and we just stood our ground and insisted we would pay for the meal we ordered and not a nickel more. He threatened to call the police and we invited him to. Finally he threw his hands up, and we paid for the meal with cash (what we owed for the meal we ordered) and added a nickel.

Doesn't compare to Surely's experience... But that's mine.


Happy Anniversary to the Surelys ..... !!!


macrumors 6502a
Sep 7, 2008
Palo Alto, CA
Best way to send the message is to write review online, spread the word to friends/family and if you want, write a letter to the local food newspaper.

It's a shame what you went through but if that's how the owner is going to run his business, it will be his downfall.


macrumors 68030
Jun 11, 2011
Happy Anniversary.
A few years ago, my entire family went on a cruise together, the Carnival Miracle. We went to the formal dining room when my brother (now twenty something?) sat down as usual. As our assistant waitress cleared away our plates she dropped a knife and it slid down the back of his shirt. She then said "Oh sorry hunny." Then she left for 20 minutes while my brother had a huge tomato sauce stain on his back. My mother looked around in disbelief. Then the waitress arrived again and offered to 'wash' the stained shirt. Needless to say the stain did not come out. The cruise line then to make it up with us:
a) gave us a very generous amount to replace the shirt
b) gave as a fleet of waiters with free drinks every night.
That was after complaining to the pursers office though. I love cruises don't get me wrong.


macrumors 6502a
Apr 6, 2011
Hate when restaurants are D bags like that! Glad you handled it well and got treated better elsewhere. It's hard to find people that actually give a damn about customer service/care anymore. But its okay, they will be living a sad 9-5 life forever like that.

Congrats for a long 7 years. Wish you 2 the best of luck in the future.


macrumors member
Jul 19, 2008
Glad your night turned for the better at the Greek spot.

For me it's not one particular instance but rather a pattern. If i have an issue at a restaurant it always seems to be at family owned Chinese or sushi places. It really seems to be a crap shoot. Either the food and service is awesome or truly dreadful. Not to mention the extra 75 cents for soda refills. That drives me batty! :mad:


macrumors 6502a
Jun 7, 2011
I am tired of lousy service. I have started to bring cash with me as a back up.
Lousy service lousy tip, I pay cash.
Good service at least a 20% tip.
Food comes out wrong, I request an immediate visit by the manager and request a refund for the meal. I refuse to wait or make the people I am with wait.
If they don't refund the meal, I jot down the person I spoke with. I sent an email. Then I call American express once the charge posts and dispute it.
It pisses off the restaurant.
My tolerance/patience for lousy service has dwindled over the years.
I'm pretty similar. I don't put up with crap anymore at restaurants either. My wife and I cook better than almost every restaurant in our city. We usually only go out to places that have good draft beer. I'm just brutal at restaurants now. I simply can't stand them :)


macrumors P6
Mar 22, 2008
On tenterhooks
Surely, I would credit the Greek restaurant here, by name and address.

Then any in your area could determine the French restaurant's name, by association, and you would not have to risk censure from the Mods.


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