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brescd01

Dining al fresco with dog- rain starts!

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When I came home from work today I was determined to take my wife out. The weather seemed so nice we brought our dog as well and walked in the direction of Meme. Of course neither of us looked at the forecast. We took a table outside with our dog in tow and placed our order. With almost theatrical timing after we placed our order the clouds became ominous and there was lightning. The staff invited other diners indoors but not us, because we had our little dog. And we would not abandon him. The result was obvious, we were drenched and ate our dinner miserable and wet despite the awnings. Our waiter specifically asked the owner if we could come indoors just for the duration of the storm and we were refused. No dishes were comped and no one graciously offered to pay to press my suit or anything like that. Vis a vis the food I did not enjoy my entree (swordfish) but I liked the appetizer (octopus).

So I ask the Board, did the owner act fairly? Can I be angry and bitter? Lest anyone rip into me on suspicion of maltreatment of staff, I tipped the waiter 20 % because I know the owner kept us outside not him, and he certainly tried to help us. But I doubt I will return.


Edited by brescd01 (log)

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I feel for your terrible luck, but I do not blame the owner. He has other customers to worry about and the dog, no matter how nice unless it is guide dog is not welcome by the authorities in this country. He was in a no-win situation and did the right thing, however unfortunate for you and your dog. It wasn't their fault that you had the dog and it rained. Sorry.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Yeah, I gotta agree with Doc. I feel your pain, that was bad luck, but I'm not sure I can fault a restaurant for not wanting dogs in the dining room.


"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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Big time dog lover here, and I always have fresh baked dog biscuits for my four legged customers, but I can't allow dogs into my restaurant - just outside, weather good or bad. I might have offered to comp a future meal for you even though it wasn't the owners fault. Actually I would have played to the audience and found a way to offer you a gift for your dog...hell, a doggy bag would have been kind of funny in this situation.

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I accept the will of eGullet, but I think the owner could have done a 100 gracious things, none of which he attempted, and the restaurant was so empty he cut staff (I know because our waiter said he was leaving).

He could have prepared our meals to go, he could have held the order and told us to bring the dog home and come back. We couldn't go in and discuss the matter with him because we were tethered to the dog outside.

Why is the fear of the dog reg so great? People violate all sorts of regs now and again, but I have seen only one place flout the dog rule, a bar in Old City that was popular amongst the vet students, and I don't know if it is still so carefree or open.

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Sorry about your experience, but whether or not the restaurant was almost empty is really beside the point. Any patron who brings a dog knows the animal is not allowed inside. That's why you and your wife ate outside.

Also, there were two of you so one could have gone inside and asked for your meals to go or brought the dog home. The owner has enough on their mind than trying to figure out even one of 100 ways to make you happy because you brought the dog and had to sit outside. Finally, why so upset about restaurants following a regulation that may lead to a fine and possibly lost repeat customers who don't want to eat with a dog?


“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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This is the difference between one star service and three star service.

The owner and staff were not obliged to come to the diners' rescue and they did not - one star service. Three star would have been the owner and staff being horrified at what was happening to a pair of guests and coming up with a way to alleviate or modify their situation.

My first instinct would have been to explain the situation to the other diners and see if they objected to the dog coming inside during the rain. Or maybe find a comfy corner for the dog in the storeroom. Yes either is against health regulations but it is extremely unlikely the restaurant would have been caught.

At the very least, the owner should have sympathetically offered, "What bad luck. Don't worry about the check. Head home, order in a pizza for tonight, and we'll see you again on a sunny day."

So many restaurants think that service ends with instructing servers to ask, mid-entree, "How is everything?"


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

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This is the difference between one star service and three star service. 

The owner and staff were not obliged to come to the diners' rescue and they did not - one star service.  Three star would have been the owner and staff being horrified at what was happening to a pair of guests and coming up with a way to alleviate or modify their situation.

My first instinct would have been to explain the situation to the other diners and see if they objected to the dog coming inside during the rain.  Or maybe find a comfy corner for the dog in the storeroom.  Yes either is against health regulations but it is extremely unlikely the restaurant would have been caught.

At the very least, the owner should have sympathetically offered, "What bad luck.  Don't worry about the check.  Head home, order in a pizza for tonight, and we'll see you again on a sunny day."

So many restaurants think that service ends with instructing servers to ask, mid-entree, "How is everything?"

Depending upon the behavior of the dog owners I agree that the owner could have demonstrated better customer relations. Showing sympathy and some understanding would have helped. But why should the owner have comped the two meals? Packing them up in a doggy bag, sure, but a comp because they chose to bring their dog?

From a patron's point of view it's unfair for the owner to put customers in a position of deciding whether or not the cute little puppy should be allowed inside. Pet lovers can't understand that there are pet haters among us who wish to remain anonymous. Even if the dog was made "comfy" there's a chance it might begin to bark or whine. For many, dining out is an occasional pleasure where the only decision is what to order and not having to deal with crying babies or loud cell phone talkers, much less a dog that doesn't belong there in the first place.

FWIW, I would be fine with voting to allow the dog in.


“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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This is the difference between one star service and three star service. 

The owner and staff were not obliged to come to the diners' rescue and they did not - one star service.  Three star would have been the owner and staff being horrified at what was happening to a pair of guests and coming up with a way to alleviate or modify their situation.

My first instinct would have been to explain the situation to the other diners and see if they objected to the dog coming inside during the rain.  Or maybe find a comfy corner for the dog in the storeroom.  Yes either is against health regulations but it is extremely unlikely the restaurant would have been caught.

At the very least, the owner should have sympathetically offered, "What bad luck.  Don't worry about the check.  Head home, order in a pizza for tonight, and we'll see you again on a sunny day."

So many restaurants think that service ends with instructing servers to ask, mid-entree, "How is everything?"

Depending upon the behavior of the dog owners I agree that the owner could have demonstrated better customer relations. Showing sympathy and some understanding would have helped. But why should the owner have comped the two meals? Packing them up in a doggy bag, sure, but a comp because they chose to bring their dog?

From a patron's point of view it's unfair for the owner to put customers in a position of deciding whether or not the cute little puppy should be allowed inside. Pet lovers can't understand that there are pet haters among us who wish to remain anonymous. Even if the dog was made "comfy" there's a chance it might begin to bark or whine. For many, dining out is an occasional pleasure where the only decision is what to order and not having to deal with crying babies or loud cell phone talkers, much less a dog that doesn't belong there in the first place.

FWIW, I would be fine with voting to allow the dog in.

Even if the patrons voted, it would have to have been unanimous, but even that would have potentially put unfair pressure on any patrons who would prefer to not have the dog inside, but were uncomfortable expressing themselves if the majority of patrons were permissive. We might then be discussing this from a different perspective of outrage.

The bottom line is that sometimes we just have bad luck and shouldn't expect someone else to make amends for it. Maybe the owner could have done more, but I don't think that anyone should hold it against him that he didn't.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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I, for one, don't want to be seated in a dining room with a (potentially wet or dry) dog. You could have easily solved your own problem by switching your order to takeout. Why would you want to hold the restaurant accountable for the weather and prevailing American customs regarding dog-free dining? (You can imagine that I'm unhappy about Southwest Airlines' recent decision to allow pets onboard for a $75 fee--as if air quality wasn't bad enough without pet dander added to the mix).

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Doc wrote:

The bottom line is that sometimes we just have bad luck and shouldn't expect someone else to make amends for it. Maybe the owner could have done more, but I don't think that anyone should hold it against him that he didn't.

Yes it was bad luck and yes the diners should not expect the owner to make amends for it. That is exactly why the owner should have been more creative and come up with a solution - especially on a slow night and with a mostly empty dining room.

The do-nothing approach the owner took cost the restaurant a couple of customers and likely some word-of-mouth bad will. Going above and beyond would have created two loyal customers and a bunch of goodwill. Monday night customers from the neighborhood - I am going to do everything I can to insure a great experience.

Every day students at the Cornell Hotel School walk past a plaque as they enter Statler Hall. It quotes Ellsworth Milton Statler, "Life is service. The one who progresses is the one who gives his fellow human beings a little more, a little better service." Anyone in the restaurant business should have that phrase etched in his/her brain.


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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Depending upon the behavior of the dog owners I agree that the owner could have demonstrated better customer relations.  Showing sympathy and some understanding would have helped.  But why should the owner have comped the two meals?  Packing them up in a doggy bag, sure, but a comp because they chose to bring their dog?

Either comping or packing up a doggy bag would have been fine. Depends on what point they were in the meal and what would have worked for both parties. Just do something more than having the server tell them no. To not even come to the table himself - inexcusable. Perhaps he didn't want to get wet.

From a patron's point of view it's unfair for the owner to put customers in a position of deciding whether or not the cute little puppy should be allowed inside.  Pet lovers can't understand that there are pet haters among us who wish to remain anonymous.  Even if the dog was made "comfy" there's a chance it might begin to bark or whine.  For many, dining out is an occasional pleasure where the only decision is what to order and not having to deal with crying babies or loud cell phone talkers, much less a dog that doesn't belong there in the first place.

That's a judgment call depending on the circumstances and the other customers present. Le Bec-Fin, never. Meme on a slow Monday evening, I'd consider it.


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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Every day students at the Cornell Hotel School walk past a plaque as they enter Statler Hall. It quotes Ellsworth Milton Statler, "Life is service. The one who progresses is the one who gives his fellow human beings a little more, a little better service." Anyone in the restaurant business should have that phrase etched in his/her brain.

Excellent point, especially when dealing with obnoxious or overbearing customers and those with a sense of entitlement. I've seen teenage bank tellers and supermarket checkout clerks who do their best to mollify the most unreasonable customer. Even if it doesn't work the other patrons appreciate the effort.

That's a judgment call depending on the circumstances and the other customers present. Le Bec-Fin, never. Meme on a slow Monday evening, I'd consider it.

Why put even one customer in the potentially uncomfortable position of having to vote?


“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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That's a judgment call depending on the circumstances and the other customers present. Le Bec-Fin, never. Meme on a slow Monday evening, I'd consider it.

Why put even one customer in the potentially uncomfortable position of having to vote?

As I said, a judgment call. Like yours, my reaction would have been, "Of course. Bring them in from the rain." Would have made me feel like I was doing a good thing. But I agree that it puts pressure on a diner not to appear mean, so perhaps it should not have been asked. My place, I'd get a feel for the customers that night, consider the behavior of the dog, see if there was an out-of-the-way table, and then decide whether or not to question the other tables.

By the way, is anyone else envisioning a New Yorker style cartoon? A couple hunched over a table outside the restaurant, miserable in the thunderstorm - their little dog underneath the table, nice and dry, and diners inside having a grand time. Maybe a cab driving by, splashing a puddle at them. Perhaps two servers standing over the diners holding umbrellas...


Holly Moore

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yeah i think that good customer service is the art of exceeding guests expectations, so on a slow monday at meme, i think they should have worked a little harder to find an amicable solution.

my first thought would have been to temporarily bring the customers inside (with dog i guess) and find out what they preferred to do; prepare their food to go, wait while they ditch the dog at home or just cancel the food that wasn't already prepared. i probably would have thrown in a desert or something like that as a gesture of kindness, but i don't think it's necessary for the place to eat the whole check...

and no, unfortunately, they can't eat inside with the dog, it's not fair to other guests or city ordinances...

just my two cents (and that's about all it's worth)...

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That's a judgment call depending on the circumstances and the other customers present. Le Bec-Fin, never. Meme on a slow Monday evening, I'd consider it.

Why put even one customer in the potentially uncomfortable position of having to vote?

As I said, a judgment call. Like yours, my reaction would have been, "Of course. Bring them in from the rain." Would have made me feel like I was doing a good thing. But I agree that it puts pressure on a diner not to appear mean, so perhaps it should not have been asked. My place, I'd get a feel for the customers that night, consider the behavior of the dog, see if there was an out-of-the-way table, and then decide whether or not to question the other tables.

Perhaps they did.

By the way, is anyone else envisioning a New Yorker style cartoon?  A couple hunched over a table outside the restaurant, miserable in the thunderstorm - their little dog underneath the table, nice and dry, and diners inside having a grand time.  Maybe a cab driving by, splashing a puddle at them.  Perhaps two servers standing over the diners holding umbrellas...

Absolutely!


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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This is why they call them "no win" situations.

In cases like this, everyone is best served if they just follow rules.

Everyone would also be better off if someone made a reasonable compromise.

Restaurant while not obligated could have shown concern without breaking any laws.

Guests could have taken it upon themselves to find the quickest remedy.

Conventional wisdom say's...

If you went to a neighborhood restaurant with your dog, you clearly live within walking distance.

If at said restaurant the situation under discussion here happened, if I was the diner I would ask the waiter to put a hold on the food, send my wife or girlfriend into the restaurant while I walk the dog home and walk right back for dinner.

If I was the restaurant owner, I would pre-emptively suggest the same thing.

Show's enough concern, everybody is happy.

Asking patrons to vote is not only absurd but intrusive.

Who wants their dinner interrupted to vote as to whether pets can come in ?

What if you are allergic to pet dander.

Pets are cute but it's a lifestyle choice people make at some risk of adjusting access to certain places. You cannot be angry if an apartment building denies you entry if they have a no pet policy.

Other diners did not help them suggest they get a pet.

Would it be different if it was a patron smoking outside (even though smoking is now banned).

End of story.

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I never have been able to figure out who decrees conventional wisdom. Just know it rarely seems to be me.

My unconventional wisdom says that in the middle of a downpour like the one last night it is wiser to be dry inside a restaurant than to walk a few blocks in a heavy rain to my home, dry off the dog, take a warm shower, put on a pair of dry clothes and return to a restaurant.

Absurd would be to ask diners their feelings about a dog joining them inside on a beautiful, clear summer evening. Asking the same question when a table of two plus dog, mid-meal, is getting soaked during a thunderstorm, is reasonable, especially if presented with the tact a restaurant owner should have.

My sense, as both a diner and, a while back in a place a few blocks away, a host and restaurant owner, is that the few diners there on a slow Monday night would have understood and not found such one-time hospitality objectionable. Just the opposite, perhaps.

Lacking conventional wisdom I do not understand how an apartment building's no pets policy on a one year lease compares to an unfortunate, one time situation. I would also suggest that a cigarette could be snuffed out without causing the same commotion that would surely occur if the couple had done the same with their dog.


Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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The do-nothing approach the owner took cost the restaurant a couple of customers and likely some word-of-mouth bad will.  Going above and beyond would have created two loyal customers and a bunch of goodwill.  Monday night customers from the neighborhood - I am going to do everything I can to insure a great experience. 

But anyone in the service industry knows that there are people who will find fault no matter what you do. We all agree that the owner could have made more of an effort, but come on - you bring a dog, a baby, a cranky grandma to a restaurant and you are setting yourself up for an unpleasant experience. Even my well trained pooch will want to sniff passing guests and will surely bark if a squirrel runs by. So if this incident has led someone to bad mouth the restaurant, that says much more about the diner than the restaurant who is FOLLOWING THE LAW and RESPECTING THE RIGHTS OF EVERY OTHER DINER IN THE RESTAURANT WHO WANT TO ENJOY THEIR MEAL.

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The do-nothing approach the owner took cost the restaurant a couple of customers and likely some word-of-mouth bad will.  Going above and beyond would have created two loyal customers and a bunch of goodwill.  Monday night customers from the neighborhood - I am going to do everything I can to insure a great experience. 

But anyone in the service industry knows that there are people who will find fault no matter what you do.

So don't do anything because the person(s) might find fault in your extra effort?

We all agree that the owner could have made more of an effort, but come on - you bring a dog, a baby, a cranky grandma to a restaurant and you are setting yourself up for an unpleasant experience.  Even my well trained pooch will want to sniff passing guests and will surely bark if a squirrel runs by.  So if this incident has led someone to bad mouth the restaurant, that says much more about the diner than the restaurant who is FOLLOWING THE LAW and RESPECTING THE RIGHTS OF EVERY OTHER DINER IN THE RESTAURANT WHO WANT TO ENJOY THEIR MEAL.

Or is says something about a restaurant that makes no effort to correct an unpleasant situation. Again - a neighborhood restaurant on a Monday night in the summer. Business is so slow they sent home a server. A couple from the neighborhood picked that restaurant out of all the options in Center City West for a Monday night dinner. It is not rocket science that a restaurant would want to nourish their loyalty rather than tarnish it.


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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Holly, I think I figured out why you're so tenacious in this thread about dogs. You must be part terrier.


“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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I am gratified that there is a more mixed response than initially, though I think everyone apears to have preconceived notions. I was not "entitled." I tipped the waiter as I normally would and I did not give him a hard time, though I did say I disagreed with the owner's decision. And I am not sure how I am "bad-mouthing" a restaurant by repeating exactly what happened. I wonder which of you was in Philadelpia last night: one could not walk the dog home or anything in the deluge. When it was merely raining, we did exactly that, walk home with the dog, but by then we had finished our meal and were soaked. And I did not think the dog should stay in indefinitely, just for the duration of the worst of the storm. If the owner had offered to prepare our meal to go, we probably would have accepted and taken a cab. But no one offered that to us. The money meant nothing to me, my feelings and my ruined evening meant much more.

Lesson learned. But we won't be returning.

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It's not just a matter of a rule or a fine. In most places nowadays, health department reports are available to anyone online, meaning that diners for years to come would be reading about the place having a sanitation violation. And, believe me, that online report wouldn't have any mention of customer service issues in it.

Not to mention the fact that in some areas, a health inspector can simply close a place down for a day, a week or until they are available to have a second inspection added to their calendar. There's nothing like having 'closed by County Health Department until further notice' signs on your front door to scare off business for years to come.

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