An Evening of Unexpected at Champps Americana

An Evening of Unexpected at Champps AmericanaAfter a long hard week at work not much tops heading out to dinner with some of your closest friends. Sharing ice-cold beers and mile high cheeseburgers is a great way to end a week filled with emails and memos. When deciding on where to go there are tons of options, especially in here in Indianapolis.

You can go to a fast food joint for a cheap meal or you can venture out to a sit down restaurant for a little more attention paid to the atmosphere. There are burger places all around the city and one that I like, especially in the summer, is Champps Americana. There just happens to be a Champps right here in the heart of the north side.

Located right next to the Keystone Fashion Mall you will find Champps Americana. Champps serves anything from soups and salads to pastas and burgers. They also have quite an impressive beer list to boot.   As a matter of fact, their bar is the main focus when you first walk in. Not to mention the huge projector screens and plasma TVs pretty much everywhere you look. I have not been to Champps in a while so when a good friend of mine from out of town said he wanted to get a beer I figured that was the perfect excuse to go. (He was also staying right across the street so it was convenient for him.)

So, around 7:00 PM my good friend Tyler, my girlfriend Sheryl, and I went toward the Keystone area. Andrew Lyon, my friend from Washington DC was already there. When we arrived, we found Andrew, sat down, and waited for our server. Not sure how long Andrew had been there but the server had not yet visited the table. Perhaps he had just sat down, but that is no excuse to not have at least offered a beverage. But the server finally makes his way over to the table and immediately wants to get us some drinks from the bar. Of course he does, they cost more than a soda or water. I ordered a Miller Lite as it was their cheapest alternative.

About fifteen minutes later my drink finally arrived. Not to mention the fact that my girlfriend and Andrew had not yet ordered a drink. We will let that slide for the time being. So as Tyler and I get our beers, we are ready to order our dinner. Tyler went with a burger, Andrew the same, and Sheryl decided on some pasta. I went with a diet breaking appetizer sampler that featured potato skins, chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, and hot Buffalo wings. I figured it was Friday, why not?

Another ten or twelve minutes pass before Sheryl and Andrew’s beers arrive to the table. Andrew had a terrible time deciding which beer to get as he is a typical stout drinker. When asking the server what he suggested, as he was looking to try something different than a Guinness, the server acted confused at the question. He tried to sell Andrew into an IPA and eventually ended up talking him into a wheat beer. Moral of the story is that not only does the beer selection at Champps suffer but the education to their servers is just the same.

Regardless, their beers arrive and the conversation continues. But now it’s time for dinner. The two burgers arrive first and are auctioned off to their respected owner. (If there is anything that I dislike more about a restaurant is when the server auctions the food. If you, as the server of the table, do not know who ordered what, you need to pay a little more attention to what is going on. I have served my whole life and I have never once forgotten what my guests are eating. He only had a few tables anyway.) Then Sheryl is hit with her colorful pasta and I my appetizer sampler. The server leaves for the time being to get my sauces (the sampler is served with bleu cheese, marinara sauce, BBQ, and a spicy mayonnaise.) By the time he gets back I had realized what I had ordered was not what was sitting in front of me.

For starters, the potato skins were burnt to a crisp. The cheese sticks were practically frozen. Even the wings were cold. Oh yeah, and the picture showed four chicken strips on this platter while I was only served two. So not only was I served cold and burnt food, but I was served the sauces a mere five minutes after the meal arrived. That was when I decided to tell the server I would like my meal remade and to look like the picture. He grabbed the plate and headed back to the kitchen.

Sheryl, in the mean time, was digging into her pasta. She said the flavors were bland and that when you order chicken pasta you should be able to see the chicken and not have to ding through it. I would actually later try the pasta and found it quite enjoyable. It was a chicken and spinach Tortellini and I enjoyed it immensely.

Not five minutes later one of the mangers delivered my new and improved sampler platter. This time the meal was exactly what I had wanted. The wings were glowing with color, the potato skins looked full of flavor, the mozzarella sticks were filled with stringy cheese, and there were actually four chicken strips this time rather than two. She even took my first plate of sauces and delivered a brand new selection that were all warm in their own right. It was a great presentation. Then she managed to inform me that she would be taking care of the meal. This was absolutely uncalled for.

Now, there comes a time where I expect a restaurant to do the right thing. This is exactly what should have happened. Now, did I expect it? No, of course not. Did I assume that I would still pay for my meal and just have to wait a little bit to enjoy what I had ordered? Yes, of course. But what matters here is I was never mad, nor did I complain about the food rather just pointed out that it was not what I had expected. The restaurant took the first step and impressed me beyond belief.

I later asked for the manger’s card so that I could send her an email with this blog link prior to sharing it with my readers, and would come to learn that she is in fact a managing partner of that location. This lady went out of her way when she didn’t even have to. Makes me wonder how they would have reacted had I actually of had a problem. I want to personally thank her for her attention to detail and the willingness to correct an issue before it even became one.

Now, to the server that we had that night, I might suggest a career change. You knew nothing about a pretty standard beer list. You hardly ever came to the table to ask if things were sufficient or if there was anything we needed. You actually disappeared at one instance during the evening for over a half an hour. Just curious, where did you go? But putting the mediocre at best service to the side, Champps has impressed me with how they handled this issue. (Can I complain that they have removed the Mongolian Egg Rolls from the menu? Apparently it was one of their best selling appetizers but corporate decided to take them from the menu in an effort to have a more “Americanized menu”. Regardless, they were delicious and I would like to see them return to the menu in the near future.) I will return to Champps because of how they handled this situation and to anyone else out there looking for a place who understands that the guest truly does come first, try giving Champps at Keystone at the Crossing a chance in the near future. You wont be disappointed.