Over the weekend I had the chance to catch up with some old friends of mine. They were old buddies from high school and were coming up to Indianapolis to see their family. They had contacted me and asked if I wanted see them for lunch before they went off to their weekend activities. I was more than happy to oblige since it had been years since I had seen them! When we met up we decided to go to Applebee’s since their kids were picky eaters and they knew they liked the food there. So we were off. I took them to the 86th Street location. You know, the one in front of the Castleton Square Mall. I had never been to that location before, so I didn’t know what to expect. But I assumed that since I have eaten at numerous Applebee’s in the past that I could expect the same great service at this location as I have received at others.
When we arrived, we were sat at our table and asked to wait for our server. She was a little slow getting to us, but not unforgivably. Being a waiter myself, I observed the area to gauge how busy our server would be after we were sat. She gathered the drink order, then went to the back. It took a substantial amount of time getting to us, but I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt if the rest of the meal went according to plan. It didn’t.
After bringing us our drinks, she took our order for appetizers and our meal all at once I was hungry, so I ordered a cup of chili for my appetizer. One of my friends ordered some cheese sticks as well. However, when my friend’s mozzarella sticks came to the table, I was still without my chili. I figured she was coming out with it shortly there after, and didn’t think too much of it. After watching my friend sit there and eat all of the mozzarella sticks, our server came to take the empty basket off the table. However, she still had not realized that I had not eaten any chili! She never even mentioned the chili to be honest.
I had hoped she would come back with it, but she didn’t, and I wasn’t going to say anything about it as I was just ready to have dinner. I was completely over the chili at this point. If she forgot it or didn’t bring it, it simply lowered my bill in the end. Of course, this would also cost her as I tip based on the total price of my meal. Regardless, I figured it was her loss. Before too long, the manager ended up bringing out our food. To avoid having to explain the entire situation over again, I told him to take off my chili because I no longer wanted it. He looked confused, barely offered an apology, and said he would take it off upon further investigation.
So when our waitress finally decided to grace us with her presence once again, we were all about finished with our meal. My friends’ oldest child even spouted out that he had been waiting a while for another drink. Mind you we had told the manager that we needed another round some time ago when the food was dropped off.
I am still stuck on my appetizer. She never once mentioned the chili. The refills did come a little faster, but not by much. Now I noticed that she had a six top (a table with six people sitting down) and two three tops, but that’s no reason for the slow service. Even if it was difficult, a simple acknowledgement of the slow service makes a world of difference to the consumer. In the end, I am the one paying for this meal and this service. Or lack there of. Trust me, I know. It doesn’t excuse slowness, but it does let the customer know that you realize you’re behind and you didn’t forget them.
So five minutes after we ask the bill we finally get it. I was so dissatisfied by the (lack of) service I left her a small tip. The small tip even says something since I normally leave well over twenty percent. Remember, I am a server too. I understand that these servers don’t make very much money.
She took my friends’ credit cards and my cash, then stormed back and just about slammed the change down on the table. I almost took it because of how she acted, but I know through personal experience a really bad tip will anger a server more than no tip at all. I would have called over the manager, but judging from his lack of consideration before, I didn’t think it would do much good. Needless to say, I’m never going there again. I’ve ate at the Applebee’s in Broad Ripple, and have never had a problem there. This was absolutely ridiculous.
(I want to personally thank Michael for sharing his thoughts on his most recent experience at Applebee’s with us here. I have been to that very same location and have never been impressed with the level of service. I wish that he had spoken with the manager at the end of his meal as I am curious how they would have handled it. More than likely his meal would have been paid for due to this negative experience. But it seems that rather than compensate him with a free meal they have lost a lifelong customer.)