I wanted to like the Crown Diner. It has a great location, interesting view, the idea of forgoing processed foods is admirable and the modern diner environment appeals to me. The name seemed kind of lame, but I can look past that if the food and service are good.
The first two times I went (once with coworkers and another time for my girlfriend’s birthday alongside her coworkers), the wait was ridiculously long. Not the end of the world, considering it was still a “new” establishment. The real issue was that our food, which was healthily sized, tasted underwhelming. The fish and chips and the clubhouse may have been big on portions but they were small on character. And the fries, were boring (which seems to be the consensus with people that both like and dislike this place). These meals didn’t change my life, but they also didn’t make me sick. Starting out, I would give this establishment a pass.
Since I have been going out for brunch every Sunday for the past several years and we decided to give the Crown Diner another chance. Especially since it wasn’t busy and could accommodate our party of ten. Well, at least it looked like it could, superficially.
On the food side of things, I had a cheese drenched skillet and my poached eggs were always hard. Again, not the end of the world, but when a server asks you specifically how you would like them, you assume they are actually going to arrive in that style and they are not administering some sort of informal egg hardness pole. The place was starting to lose some of it’s appeal and maybe this was beginning to explain the availability of tables.
I don’t fault a restaurant for not being family friendly. There are not a lot of children downtown in the first place, so whenever I go anyway with my daughter I assume I will be in the minority and take what I can get. I am always in a position to bail (after paying my bill, of course), if I feel I am inconveniencing the staff or other patrons. They don’t call them the terrible twos for nothing.
For starters, calling your restaurant a diner is an interesting choice for a place that is trying to be upscale (same could be said for having a pop cooler and a fish tank, but I digress). Anyway, this isn’t about agism as much as it is about ignorance on the part of the owner. The real issue is the way in which the this gentlemen handled a recent situation. Our group of five adults and five kids visited on a typically quiet Sunday. Another long wait ensued, but let’s chalk that up to being short staffed. Maybe someone called in sick, hung-over…whatever. Not really my problem, but I won’t let that spoil our visit.
We were seated between a fish tank and pop cooler, given kids seats, had our orders taken, kids were coloring away, we were given the correct food (after the expected “wait”), properly billed for the food and we, as is customary with adequate service, tipped as felt necessary. Instead of the chef coming out to see how our meal was, he just hovered over us as we paid in the foyer and then, as all but one of our group left he motioned to him with his hands to get out of his restaurant as if he was sweeping us out the door. Shocking. Almost unbelievable. Like I said, not a busy place and he had already took our money. No one had said anything to us prior to this encounter and I know our children did not destroy or steal anything. A glass of water was spilt, but mostly on our own stuff.
If there was an actual issue, he should have addressed it like a professional. Maybe even like a man and not like some sort of a child. I believe my daughter understands this better than he does. When we called to complain after getting home, it turned out that this chef was actually owner of the establishment and, to put this in some sort of perspective, explained to us that he was from a fine dining background and isn’t used to this kind of thing. An odd thing to say, seeing as he so quickly learned to lower his own standards and learn how to heat up frozen fries. It was almost as if this person was a grown man and never crawled or walked the earth as a child. He just couldn’t wrap his head around serving children, even for money. It is too bad “customer service” wasn’t an growing concern at his previous job, which I would assume would be Grafton Connor Group’s 5 Fisherman or Chef’s Room and not their Esquire or Sunnyside Restaurants.
Long story short, it looks like it was our problem for picking his place and it is their problem to drag proper customers in not only fill our seats but perhaps all the empty ones that were around us. I suppose the owner could learn to understand service, but I think I will have to settle with a lesson in word of mouth marketing first.