By Wayne Harada
How long is too long for your drink to arrive? What about your dinner order?
I’ve had mounting bad luck, testing my patience, at Chili’s at Kahala Mall.
Whether I dine or early, like 6 p.m, or later, like 8 or 10 p.m. following a movie at the mall, the wait for beverage and din-din has become painfully long.
Is it just me? I think not. I’ve heard and seen complaints and irritability at the restaurant; the most noticeable was a few months ago when a party of eight or nine, with movie screening tickets in hand, waited and waited for nibbles to arrive, only to have the moms and keiki scoot off to the cinema, while dad waited to gather the uneaten remnants to take home, and to pay the bill.
To the credit of the restaurant, the manager, or someone in authority, came over to profusely apologize, offering free dessert. Hers is the crappiest job at the mall, for sure.
I’ve had three or four of these encounters since summer, and now I wonder why I still go there. The excuse seems genuine, I guess, but the ritual and recurring reflect a larger problem: no change of policy action, no effort to keep the customer satisfied.
Oh, there is one swift move: a minute or two after a complaint was lodged to the waitress (15 to18 minutes for the drink to arrive, an additional 20 minutes or so for dinner to arrive), the manager scooted to the table to apologize.
For the restaurant’s part, the alibis are one of the following, or a combination of reasons: the waitstaff is one short; there’s growing backup in the kitchen; a busy night filled with patrons. The tradeout of getting dessert gratis, or a second glass of wine, is moot; better service is what the customer wants and deserves, not freebies.
Disclosure: at my most recent visit, the manager voluntarily took off my half-order of ribs ($13.99) after the original order arrived dry and overcooked; that was a smart move that bothersome issue is the repeating pattern. Late is not great.
For all the riches that Kahala Mall offers — like Wholesale Foods, Apple Store, Starbucks, Jamba Juice, Macy’s, Longs — the place lacks a satisfying sit-down restaurant. Think about it. Beyond Chili’s, the options are few — overpriced upscale build-your-own burgers, delish gourmet pizzas and salads, sushi on conveyors, more pizza.
And there joints hungry diners where reservations aren’t taken, so you have to jockey between the crush of patrons. When your food and drink order to arrive takes longer than the time you waited to get a table, something’s terribly askew.
The other chow choices are fast food, counter or take-out joints — not the kind of place you’d want to hunker down and talk about the movie you’ve just seen.
Oh, sorrow: why did Spindrifter and Yum Yum Tree have to vanish?
So, have you played the waiting game at a restaurant? Share your woes here.