Sunday, December 30, 2007

Veto List - The Publick House in Brookline

Never in my life have I walked out of a restaurant without leaving a tip. Until tonight.

As a direct result of this evening's events at The Publick House in Brookline, my party of five walked out having paid five cents above our $128.05 bill, simply because none of us had anything smaller than a dime.

I was with four friends this evening, and we thought we would check out The Publick House's trivia night tonight, as we enjoy trivia nights and, up until now, also enjoyed The Publick House.

Around 6:15, I arrived to find Tom and Brian at the bar, already having downed two rounds. Soon thereafter, Gilbert and Kelly arrived, and we shifted over to a table in the back corner. For those of us in the group who have kicked around local trivia nights on occasion, we always arrived early to eat dinner, grab a table, and stay for trivia (all the while continuing to drink through the whole evening).

This is exactly what we have done at every other trivia night in the city.

Trivia began between 8:15 and 8:30. After the first question, we were informed by our server that since there was a long wait, they needed the table, as we were finished with dinner.

Our table had been cleared just about five or ten minutes prior, and we still had beer in our glasses.

Never did they ask if we wanted dessert, after dinner drinks, coffee, more beer - nothing. Basically, we were handed the bill and recommended that if we wished to stay for trivia and keep drinking, we could do so at the bar.

Up until this point, it was a pleasant evening. Everyone was happy, polite, and undemanding.

We all agreed that this just wasn't right, and I went to speak with the host, who promptly dispatched me to manager. I explained to the manager where we were sitting, when we arrived, what we had been consuming and that we planned to continue consuming.

He reaffirmed that if we wished to stay, we could do so at the bar because of their two hour wait.

We did not wish to stay. We paid and walked out.

While I understand that turning tables is not only the recipe to clearing a two hour wait list, but also adding revenue for the evening, I feel that their decision was quite short-sighted by displacing customers that had spent over $30 at the bar, almost $130 (up until that point) at the table, and an undetermined amount of additional after-dinner drinking revenue, not to mention the now sacrificed good will inherent with keeping loyal customers happy.

Additionally, I find it odd to host a trivia night on a night that is, obviously, a busy one for a restaurant. Usually Sunday nights aren't packed (good for Publick House for attracting that kind of crowd), and usually trivia nights are strategically held on slower evenings to draw people to the restaurant.

Like us.

While I couldn't find a picture of the exterior sign for this posting, I found a picture of said manager (on the left) and the owner (on the right) on BeerAdvocate's excellent website.

So, Publick House management - I hope you pick up the 25 bucks for the tip on our $128.05 bill this evening (not to mention the tip on your lost revenue of the rounds of 8 dollar Belgian beers that we did not consume at your establishment thereafter).

Screw you, Publick House manager. And screw you, Publick House.

There are too many good restaurants in the Boston metro that would accept my hard-earned money and welcome me to stay and continue drinking during Trivia night.

Publick House, you are no longer one of them. Veto.


J.R. said...

As a former waiter at the Publick House (and one who worked that Sunday trivia shift for about a year and a half), I agree, that they completely screw the customer on that night by trying to force people through. Truthfully, everynight was busy at the P-house and I don't really know why they did trivia anyways, since it always produced these sort of issues. Sounds reasonable to me if you never go back in protest.

But you should have tipped the waiter. It's a management policy to have trivia in the first place, and also their policy to try and forcefully rotate the tables like that. In Mass, where waiters wages are ~2.65/hr if I recall, basically all they work for is tips. So you were rightly pissed at a stupid management policy, and completely screwed all your servers (they pool tips) in revenge. Ouch! Imagine having your paycheck docked cause you boss pissed off a client. How unfairly treated would you feel?

Jason said...

In the heat of the moment it's difficult to sometimes think clearly. And while I feel bad for the server, tips are not mandatory. Sure, they are customary and expected, and some organizational models are predicated upon them, but think about how frustrating is as an angry consumer who then is expected to pay even more out of his wallet to a business that has angered him. Along with never returning and voicing displeasure, it's part of the recourse available.

And trust me, I don't make a practice of this. First time in my life.

Perhaps along with the no-tip, we should have left a note explaining why we elected to do that, along with a comment that we would expect management to cover the lost tip.

And, to your final point, I have had my paycheck docked when actions of higher-ups cause clients to leave. It's not fun. But, I made up for it with other clients.