Sunday, July 5, 2009

On being single, and eating out

This morning, I woke up. It was a beautiful day, and I decided to go get breakfast at a locally owned greasy spoon that serves up a fantastic breakfast with great coffee. Now to tell the story, I need to give some background.

I am a confident single/divorced woman of 38, and because of the fact that most of my friends live in other cities, states, and countries, I dine mostly by myself. I feel perfectly comfortable doing that. I know many other single folks would feel uncomfortable dining alone, and many more say they would never do it because they would feel like they were being stared at or talked about. This is why I felt it was important to bring you this story today. Back to the story. I cheerfully arrived at my favorite dive this morning, ready for some good coffee and a big breakfast. This is a seat yourself type place, so I sat down in the two-person booth where I always sit, by the window where I can watch the other locals roll in. Normally, I am greeted and have a coffee on my table within the first minute I opened the door. It is a small place. Everyone can see everyone else, including the folks in the kitchen cooking up our favorite home-style breakfasts. I have always loved going there because I am always treated with the same amount of care as every other customer there. I never have a complaint and I always tip well. I like to know I am helping the local non-chain businesses and their employees survive and keep going.

The past few times I have been there, the waitress who normally waits on me hasn't been there. I have noticed that I am having to wait longer and longer for my coffee, coffee refills, and to just have my order taken. Because to the fact I can see all of the customers and waitresses, I can see that the couples and groups of people are getting the same outstanding service I have been used to and I am being forgotten. This morning was the deal breaker. It took me over five minutes just to be acknowledged, and given a water and a "I'll be back in a few minutes". No coffee, no menu, and all the while the four people sitting three feet from me were waited on multiple times, coffee refills, and "Can I get you anything else?", "Still doing alright?" for a good ten more minutes. The people next to me I think were uncomfortable because they knew I was being blown off. There were only three other tables with people there, and three waitresses. Finally, I was so angry I just decided to leave......

Ten minutes later, I arrived at IHOP. They were totally swamped. So, I put myself on the list and had a seat in a single chair by the the hostess station. There were so many people waiting that there were people outside. Well, I waited about five minutes, was seated at a table for four, and they took my order right away. I had my coffee quickly, and also my food. As I ate, I watched all the waiters and waitresses hustle to take care of everyone, including myself. I wasn't forgotten, even though there was a party of nine right behind me. My waitress was Alisha, and she couldn't have been nicer. I thanked her and told her I would be blogging about my good experience today.

So my question is why does the single person get blown off and marginalized in restaurants? I don't understand this. If I get the same service as everyone else, and I am happy with that service, I always tip over 20%. I have no problem, as I said, dining alone. But an experience like the one I had at the first restaurant would have probably made a shy person so uncomfortable that they would probably never try eating out alone again. Please, waiters and waitresses of the world, recognize that we are people too, and stop blowing us off.
Annie's famous apple pie
I have to take this opportunity to recommend another Topeka restaurant for their outstanding food and service. Annie's Place. They are awesome and they take care of me. It doesn't matter who is waiting on me. They are wonderful.

The very worst I have experienced, and this is even when I am with friends, is New City Cafe (located directly across from Annie's Place in Gage Center). All of their food is made before the lunch time starts, and it is beautifully displayed in their front glass case. All they have to do is scoop the salad onto a plate and bring it to your table. There can be two people in the restaurant and four staff members, and I will wait and wait, and wait until finally getting up and asking if they remember that we gave them our order. The food is very good. Although, if you order the seafood salad, you can expect to have one or two scallops, maybe a pea sized shrimp, and the shredded tuna-ish and mayonaise cream mixture that binds it together. This last visit, I decided I am never going back. The service is always bad. I gave them four years to change, since I like the food. But now that they are getting stingier with their ingredients, I am done.

So thank you, on behalf of myself and other single folks of the world, if you are one of these restaurants who blows off single people....SHAME ON YOU!

Thank you Alisha at IHOP, for treating me so well that I was promped to write this post. (If I have misspelled your name, please email me and I will change it)

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