Thursday, August 26, 2010

Swiss Chalet Review - Ms Sternface & Mr Stoic

“I don’t know what is going on. I was supposed to leave an hour and a half ago.”

That was the first thing that our waitress said when she arrived at our table. We had arrived more than six minutes ago and quickly decided on our usuals. Swiss Chalet is one of our regular restaurant chains. We had not been to this location (Wellington South, London) before. We were on the way home after a long drive so we turned off the 401 with anticipated delight when we noticed Swiss Chalet on the highway sign. We were looking forward to enjoy our usual, quick service and then back onto the highway for the final leg home towards Burlington.

Instead we were seated by a friendly hostess and quickly forgotten – or so it seemed. A stern waitress walked by us at least three times without making eye contact. A stoic waiter (who also had mastered the power of avoiding eye contact) served the group across from us who arrived a few minutes after us. We were wondering if we should leave. Perhaps we were at the wrong table.

For some strange reason I felt a little better when the group behind me got up and mumbled something like “let’s just pay at the cash.” It wasn’t just us that was being ignored.

We caught the eye of the friendly hostess across the room and suggested that we were waiting to order. She nodded and moved to do something.

Within 30 seconds the stern waitress (the same one who had walked past us three times) arrived at our table and opened with that line, “I don’t know what is going on…”

There was no apology, no greeting, no “welcome to our restaurant”.

Then she added, “I’ll take your order.” as if that implied that she was doing us a big favour.

Realizing how lucky we were, we quickly place our order. We even said please because we didn’t want to upset Ms Sternface. She might sabotage our food.

The food arrived quickly. It was delivered by Mr. Stoic. He was mechanically efficient. He was personally cold. There was no explanation about the handoff, no apology, no greeting – not even an “enjoy your meal”.

The food was delicious and up to our usual expectations.

However the service had annoyed us. I must have said “no tip” to myself several times – yet when it was time to pay the bill I still added a tip – a small one – but certainly unearned one. I left a tip because I felt an obligation to be kind. As I walked away from the restaurant I felt cheated by the poor service and guilty that I had been weak to give any tip. If only I had that same power of Ms Sternface and Mr Stoic.

I also realized that the only one who said “please” and “thank you” were us – the customers.

We will visit Swiss Chalet again – but not this location.

This visit occurred Wed August 25 around 8:00 pm at the Swiss Chalet on Wellington South in London, Ontario

George Torok

Swiss Chalet Restaurant Review
Wellington South,
London, Ontario

One might ask, "Is this a staff problem?
Maybe. However, a staff problem is always a management problem.



Anonymous said...

George Torok, We are sorry to hear about your experience! Please visit & let us follow up!

George Torok said...

Hello Cara Foods,

Thank you for calling me and offering to send me a gift card.

That offer was made about one month ago and I have not received anything from you yet.

George Torok said...

About a week after the call from Cara, I also received a phone call from the store manager, Roberto.

He asked me about my experience and then he promised to send me another gift certificate. I told him that Cara had already promised to do this. Roberto insisted that he would send an additional gift certificate.

That also has not arrived yet - almost a month has passed.