Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Coyote Cafe

The Famed Coyote Cafe
One of the joys of life is being able to go out to a nice restaurant every now and then, and enjoy a good meal.  The Coyote Cafe in Santa Fe, New Mexico, is known for a famous chef, Chef Eric DiStefano, and its wonderful cuisine.

Apparently, their customer service, however, needs a little work.
The main course - Mesquite grilled Filet Mignon
Shiitake Poblano Potato flan, Tempura Asparagus, Herb Glacage and Veal Jus
I have two friends who were recently on vacation in New Mexico.  As one of the "must see" places in the area, they had included time for a meal at the famous Cafe.  Back home again, as my friends recounted their recent experience there, they grew quite animated and could only talk about the horrible service they received!

Isn't that sad?

My friend David said, "It was one of the worst dining experiences, ever!"  And being that he is well-traveled and has been to fine restaurants all over the United States and Europe, that's saying a lot.

Sweet Mexican White Prawns
I usually try to keep this blog positive, but I couldn't help myself from writing about this situation when I heard about their experience. It's funny how bad attitudes and unprofessional behavior marred what should have been a most delightful dining experience.

According to my friend, he had booked reservations through OpenTable.com  almost two months in advance of his trip to the Santa Fe area.

However, when he and his friend entered the restaurant, they were first told they didn't have reservations at all!  Upon insisting they did, they then were told they had reservations "at the counter".  David assured the hostess that she was mistaken.  He had made the reservations himself.  He did not have reservations "at the counter".  They had asked for, and wanted, a table.

The hostess then reluctantly said, "Let me see what is available."

Blueberry Cheesecake with Meyer Lemon Cream
My friends wondered what the problem was, as they looked around and only saw two other couples in the entire restaurant at the time!

They were finally seated at a table by the entryway, where the door to the outside was open.  It was a cool night in the mountains of Santa Fe, New Mexico, and my friends are California boys.  They were cold!

After the waiter had brought them their beverages, my friend asked politely if they could have another table, as it was too cold sitting by the entryway with an open door.  It was cold enough that neither of the men had taken off their overcoats.

At this time the manager came to the table and stated flatly that there were no other tables available and the table they were at "would have to do".  Teeth chattering, they repeated that they would not enjoy dinner if they were cold.

"Well, when you walked in off the street, we were already booked up!" was the reply.  My friends were dumbfounded.

"We didn't walk in off the street," my friend protested for the third time.  "We have reservations!"

Organic Strawberry Mango Shortcake
 with Basil Ice Cream, Marscapone Rum Cream and a Pineapple Reduction
"I'm aware of that," the manager replied incongruously, "but this is all we have available, and it will have to do!"


My friends looked around them again, and there were still only two other couples dining in the entire restaurant.  "No, this table is not acceptable," my friend reiterated forcefully, getting more upset by the minute.

As the manager walked away, the hostess suddenly reappeared and said, "There is one table available."


They were then shown a tiny booth in the corner, that wasn't even set for dinner service.  They sat down only to find it was a tight squeeze.  These are average-sized guys, by the way.  David relates, "we had our overcoats with us, but no one offered to take our coats, although there was barely enough room for us, and definitely not enough room for us and our coats!"

He goes on to say, "The rest of the service was extremely slow and fragmented; we didn't even know who our waiter was.  Courses were not brought out together, and we had to wait for a spoon to eat the soup.  It was deplorable service."

Then a large group came in and filled the area in front of them.  After that, they couldn't see past the crowd and were largely ignored until the group sat down to eat.  After a long while, the wait staff finally brought them their check for the over-priced food.  (We're talking more than $80 USD per person.)

Although their meals were good (not great, they insist), they left wondering if the food made up, in any way, for the very rude way they were treated as customers. The answer was NO. Neither one is anxious to go back again.

Not a good way to run a business, if you ask me, no matter how fancy your chef is. Reading reviews on-line, it looks like this happens at the Cafe more frequently than not.  It's hard to believe you can keep a restaurant's good name while treating people this way.  The dishes look really yummy, but the high prices and all of this arguing would have given me an upset tummy.

If I had received such service, I would have been as perplexed as they were. I would have wondered if I somehow didn't look "cool" enough or if my clothing or demeanor had offended someone, or if I didn't pass muster in some way! Thinking about it, I'm afraid I would have just left and gone elsewhere.

Have you ever had an experience like this?  What would you have done in a similar situation?

1 comment:

Meldee said...

At least they could have explained that they had a large group coming and that was why there were empty tables.... How hard would that have been? Helped with the initial impressions... The rest...well...if I'd have stayed there would have been NO TIP!