Confessions of a Cranky Would-Be Diner

Friday, January 15, 2010

You may recall that I've complained more than once about the poor quality of customer service in the District. I've been lucky enough to encounter the opposite of that recently - at Founding Farmers, for example, where our server, Cory, was the epitome of awesome.

Cue the good old days, though. A friend just invited me to join her Restaurant Week reservation at Vidalia, where I've never been. Annoyingly, I couldn't get the menu to load on my computer, in any browser, & a couple of my friends couldn't either. I'm a picky eater but also a Restaurant Week lover, so I gave Vidalia a call to see if I could have a RW menu faxed or emailed to me (extreme, I know). The hostess I spoke to transferred me to (a man whom I assumed was) a manager.

When I explained my problem to him, he answered, & I'm not exaggerating: "I have a lobby full of people here. Is there something you want from me?" When I told him I was hoping for an alternate way to see the menu - or, just to be kind & tell them their site wasn't working! - he said something to the effect of, "Do you have a reservation here or are you just looking?" Well, sir, even if I didn't, you're certainly not going to get a reservation out of me like that.

"Other customers use our website just fine," he told me matter-of-factly. "So it's not from our end." When I assured him I felt it was, he repeated (imagine the tone for yourself), "I have a lobby full of people. I don't have time to deal with computer problems." In a tone that was a struggle for me to maintain, I told him I wouldn't be dining at Vidalia if he couldn't treat his would-be customers with a little respect. And I hung up.

I still want to go there, if only because I like the friends who invited me, & I promise to update my cranky Yelp review as appropriate. But for now, the manager at Vidalia could use a few lessons in customer service.

Dear DC: Teach your employees how to be nice, will ya?

Edit/PS/Note: I didn't necessarily need them to DO anything. I was trying to be helpful, mostly, & probably could've done without a menu or checked back later. A simple, "Thanks for letting us know. I'll check in with our Webmaster" would've done the trick. But then again, perhaps I am too demanding.


  1. oh that would seriously piss me off too!

    however, i LOVE vidalia. it's where we went the night we got engaged and went back for our 6 month anniversary and they made us a little customized menu with our names and anniversary on the top in a scroll tied up with a ribbon.

    everyone deserves a second chance? and their Restaurant Week menu is now loading, not as a pdf but just on their regular website under "other menus"

  2. Having worked in the restaurant business, it can get hectic and busy in there at lunch and dinner times (11-2, 5-7). You're likely to get a better response if you call when they're not busy, especially if the operation doesn't have a dedicated customer service resolution center (think the people you'd talk to if you called in to McDonalds or Best Buy w/ a complaint).

    Not an excuse for his behavior, just an explanation.

    (Just a possible explanation, I should clarify.)

  3. holy crap, yea that would set me off. but then i guess if you called at prime time i'm sure it can get hectic and busy, but still. all he had to do was take down a fax number and say he'd fax you over something in the afternoon once they slowed down. not that hard.

  4. Wow.
    Yea, no that's him and not you, if you're busy say so and take down the number! Don't shout at a customer!


  5. Worked in them for a decade.

    There is zero excuse for a tone like that, from anyone, be it a manager or a hostess.

    Also? Anyone worth their salt in the biz would've known to just lie to you, POLITELY, and get off the phone quick.

  6. i also had a problem loading their menu before i went. i didnt go during restaurant week so i guess i avoided the "lobby full of people" and i had a decent experience. the food was good, but ive had better. twss :-)


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