Friday, November 20, 2009
I wanted to take my son out to eat for his birthday, since we usually cook at home - grilling or Southern home cooking. A change of pace is good from time to time especially for special occasions.
I had the kid pick the restaurant, and he wanted to got to Monterrey's Mexican Restaurant in Salisbury, NC. That has been a family favorite longer than he has been living (17 yrs - his birthday), and he loves the cheese dip they have there (and extra order with the chips).
I've been a bit "iffie" on Monterrey's of Salisbury, NC with the service having gone down the tubes over the last year, but I hoped to for the best. After all, it was his birthday, and I wanted it to be a good time.
The waiter tried to take our order as soon as we sat down. I asked for a couple of minutes, and that's what I got. Honestly, he must have timed it right to the second on two minutes. So, I just pointed at a photo in the menu, and my kid got what he usually gets. Whatever . . .
Being rushed is not cool, but what really ticked me off was that the server at Monterrey's chatted on his cell phone while waiting our table. In fact, he wrote and left our bill while chatting and never asked if we wanted dessert (which might be good on a birthday meal) and never said he hoped we'd come again or any of those things that you might expect at a sit down restaurant.
This is the second time out of either two or three visits to Monterrey's where the server has been gabbing on the cell phone while waiting on our table. In addition, the servers pool up over at the bar and watch TV (ball games, soap operas, news), so drinks do not get refilled, and if they forget part of your order . . . bummer. You have to go to the bar to find your server and then get your own stuff. Hey, it's almost like home - but more expensive.
I just overlooked the the TV watching and sucked up the last time when the server told the person on the cell phone to hold a sec while he took our order. This time, however, it was a special occasion, and I was not happy about a cell phone conversation during our meal. Really, the server did not even bother to tell his buddy that he had a table. He just ignored us and plunked the bill on the table and got some of the dishes which was a bit difficult with one hand tied up with the cell phone.
Normally, I am generous on tips (like 20 to 30 percent), but I could not make myself leave a tip for the first time ever doing that - holding the tip. To my way of thinking, the service could not have been much worse. As a diner, I won't even take cell phone calls. I can't even imagine waiting a table while chatting on a cell phone.
At check out (cash register), the manager asked if everything was OK. I told him that our server waited our table while gabbing on a cell phone. The manager said, "What's the difference. I do too. No one else cares."
Hum. Well, I do care. And, since they only had two tables filled when we were there, maybe some other people do too but just don't tell them.
My family (and there are a lot of us in a small rural area) have been going to Monterrey's of Salisbury, NC for 20 plus years. We won't be going back though. We are the quiet types at restaurants and never complain. So, this one time I do take issue with being served while part of a cell phone conversation by the server (and not the first time), and the manager blows me off on top of that. He made up all kinds of excuses and was a royal jerk.
I did look up and call the local Health Department - Rowan County, NC. Online reports indicate that the restaurant has been warned about not using gloves to cut meat (come on - cooking gloves are cheap), not cleaning between cutting various types of meat on the same cutting table, and there have been complaints about Monterrey's re-using the chips. In other words, they dump the nacho chips left over from a table into a new basket and serve those - or they did. They don't do that now as far as the Health Dept knows, but UGH . . . I wonder how many chips I ate at Monterey's Salisbury, North Carolina that had been sitting at another table and touched by just how many people.
The birthday meal for my son was not special in any way other than the really BAD kind of special. So, I will grill next time. Then, I will know that the food is handled properly and not recycled from another table and that the cell phone will not be part of our meal. I can't think of hardly any phone call that would rate wrecking a dinner (especially a birthday dinner), and that's what the message thing is for - right? If a server must take an important call, then fine. Do that and THEN come wait the table. Really, I can wait a few minutes. Far better than being ignored and part of a private conversation I have no interest in being a part of.