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Update on the Applebees Experience

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Last week, I posted my letter to Applebees corporate concerning my negative experience on a night out with the wife.
Friday, I received a letter from Applebees corporate concerning the issue. They were quite apologetic, explaining that there had been kitchen issues (which I mentioned in my letter) and asking me to please return. included were two coupons for $15 each toward future visits.
Last night, I received a phone call from the manager of the local Applebees, who had received my letter and who was also quite apologetic. He also explained the issues that the restaurant had that night, also pointing out that they should have handled my situation and others that night better. He also asked me to return, and informed me that I should expect to receive coupons toward a future visit in the mail soon.
No excuses were given. Explanations were given. The difference between them is that management accepted that they fault was with them, and that they needed to make up for it to a dissatisfied customer. This is how business should be done, and I hope that my next visit to our local Applebees (which will be soon) will be a positive one.
Thanks, Applebees. You’ve handled a bad situation well, and turned an unhappy customer into at least an apprehensively happy one. Well done.

Applebees Bad Service to a Blogger

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Dear Applebees,
Last night, my wife and I decided to have an evening out. We surveyed our choices for dinner and decided to go to our local Applebees. We’ve only been there twice before, and though neither time was entirely satisfactory in the service area, the food was excellent, and the waiters and waitresses fantastic. The service issues seemed to be related to kitchen management.
We left our house at 7pm, and by approximately 7:10 we had our name on the waiting list, having been promised a not-unreasonable 35 minute wait. Due to some drops from the list, we actually had a slightly shorter wait, which was nice. At our table, we quickly made our decisions and placed our order for our dinners as the waitress asked for our drink orders.
To start the meal, we asked for the cheese quesadillas. Our waitress quickly returned with our drinks. As our drinks emptied, she returned with refills. She remarked that we hadn’t received our appetizers yet, and went to check on them. A short time later, she came by to check on us and noticed that we still had not received our appetizers. After approximately 20 minutes, we finally received our appetizers, except that the cheese quesadillas we had ordered came as chicken quesadillas. We informed the waitress that we did not mind eating what had arrived, especially considering that a replacement order taking another 20 minutes to arrive could have it arriving during our main course. Little did we know what we were in for.
One hour after we were seated, I checked the time. We still had not received our dinners. People seated just before us were leaving the restaurant, having finished their meals. Recently seated diners were finishing their appetizers. Our waitress comments that we haven’t received our meals yet, and that she’s checking on them. Apparently, she says, there’s trouble in the kitchen, and they are backlogged with tickets.
At one hour and 30 minutes after our seating, we still hadn’t received our dinners. At this time, we’ve been in the restaurant for two hours, and have not seen our dinner. The waitress continues to check on us and our meals. At this time, people who have arrived after us have finished their meals and are leaving.
Finally, at one hour and 35 minutes after seating, we receive our dinners. The waitress is very apologetic, and quite understanding when I request that the manager come to our table to speak to us when she brings our check.
Once we finally received our dinners, everything was excellent. The meat was cooked properly, to both our orders. The sides were fantastic. It was a satisfactory meal, once it arrived. The desserts were a little slower to arrive than I would have expected, but not to the extreme that everything else had been late. Once they arrived, they too were excellent.
As requested, the manager came to our table at the end of our meal. She was very aplogetic, explaining that they had had kitchen issues that evening. She reduced our check by the amount of our desserts, one of which was part of a dinner combo.
I’m not a bridge-burner. I made, and make, no promises I will not return to Applebees for dinner in the future. That said, I do take previous experiences into account when making dinner choices. Having had three visits to your restaurant, all marred by poor kitchen performance, errors and delays, I’ll be much less likely to make a fourth trip. With a variety of dinner choices available in our small town, we can easily find a good meal with better kitchen service. Considering that my wife and I usually go out to eat at smaller-scale restaurants, with lower prices, the decision whether to go to Applebees only happens once every couple months. In the future, the chances that Applebees receives the money I choose to spend on a dinner with my wife have dropped dramatically.
The slow service had another impact, as well. Louise, our waitress, lost income. In the time we spent in the restaurant, taking up table space, an additional seating could have taken place. Perhaps two additional seatings could have happened. The result for her was a loss of tips, which is a shame. She was attentive and friendly. She kept our drinks full, and checked back regularly. She deserved better from the evening
I hope that the Sanford, NC Applebees is one day able to one day overcome its shortcomings. At this time, however, I cannot recommend that my friends visit, due to the history of problems I have had there. This third experience was by far the worst.
Thank you,
Dave Walker

Mmmmm, Coffee

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I’m blogging from the coffee shop today. The wife exercises at a local Curves. Next door is a nice little coffee shop called Mr. Bean. Fairly recently, the shop changed ownership. That’s a good thing, because the coffee here is really good now. Before, the java was on the weak side. I’m still trying to figure that out, because the science behind coffee is fairly simple. The only way I can figure that the mochas and cappuccinos were so weak was that the shots were short, but that’s speculation. The “little bird” says the previous owner did things like re-use grounds, and similar activities. I know I never had that problem, because I always had freshly ground beans used for my drinks. That’s a benefit of paying attention to the drink prep.
Now, the coffee actually tastes like coffee. My grande latte with tiramisu tastes fantastic. The new ownership also brought in wireless access, and has a PC available for free use by the customers. It’s really nice. Maybe I should grab a table one morning on my day off, set up the PC, lay out some business cards, and set up shop. It only takes a couple clients to make it worthwhile.
One drawback? They’re playing the local oldies station on the radio. I’d much prefer the “Jack-style” station from nearby that they call “Simon.” Of course, my real preference would be to fire up the PC and listen to Radio Paradise in some headphones. Maybe I’ll bring some earbuds next time.
There is another coffee shop in town. It has always been busy, every time I’ve been there. For some reason, though, it has changed hands a few times since opening, and never seems to have the same people. Compared to the old Mr. Bean, it had much better coffee and wireless. They took out their wireless a while back. I’m not sure if it was brought back by more recent management, but they finally have some competition on coffee quality.
Mmmmmm, coffee. *drool*

Chocolate Gravy/Syrup Recipe

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I pointed my browser over to Byrd Droppings this morning to find a surprise. Byrd Droppings is the home blog of Lorie Byrd. Lorie posted a recipe this morning for something I’ve NEVER known to be eaten outside of my immediate family. This is one of those foods that, when I describe it to others, gets me some of the strangest looks. She calls is chocolate gravy. My family calls it chocolate syrup, and it is fantastic.
I’m sure her husband has eaten this stuff with more than just biscuits, but that’s the main thing she mentions in eating it. Our family, though, has a different process. It’s a breakfast treat.
First, you need a plate with a decent rim on it to hold the liquid. In the center of this plate, you place a pat of butter or margarine. On top of this, you ladle in a decent amount of chocolate syrup. The result is a plate full of syrup, which is now the base for the rest of our breakfast. Now you place your scrambled eggs, sausage patties, bacon and grits on the plate, directly in the syrup. Oh yeah, and we do have the biscuits. The result is a chocolate flavored breakfast that my wife discovered was one of the most delicious things in the world.
For our family, this is an annual tradition. We meet on Christmas morning and have chocolate breakfast for the whole family. It usually turns out to be a lot less messy than we expect. Once we’re done with breakfast, we’re energized and ready to go open the presents. As a child, I ate this a little more often, but it was still reserved as a treat instead of a regular happening. The origins of the dish are from the depression era, when it was a matter of making do with what you had. Now, it’s a special treat for good times.
Thanks, Lorie. Keep this up, and you’re going to become an honorary ogre.

Zuchinni and Squash Stir-Fry

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1 Large Vidalia Onion Diced
1/2 Large or 1 medium sized zuchinni halved and sliced
2 small yellow squash halved and sliced
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
soy sauce
tiny amount of red curry paste

More: Read the rest of this entry…

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