Thursday, November 8, 2012
Recent Adventures at Station 22 in Provo: A Novel
Anyway, it's no secret I love Station 22 in Provo. Well... that I love their food. And I still love their food--but I'm honestly fed up with their staff and service.
Let me give you some examples:
1. About two months ago Ben and I dropped in to order take-out. The man at the register seemed extremely flustered and distracted and it was difficult to order our food. Then we waited 30 minutes for our food, which I was a bit upset about but more just happy to finally be out of there. THEN when we got our food to the car and started driving, we found that neither of the sandwiches were vegan (they had cheese on them) and we only got one of our orders of fries. We had to drive back and tell the man at the register that our order was wrong. He never apologized or offered to repay us in any way, and then he and the kitchen staff got in some kind of scuff over our order and the man at the register ended up making it. We then waited another 20 minutes for our food and finally got out of there with our food about an hour and a half later. The entire ordeal was very frustrating and I was pretty upset about it.
2. A few weeks ago Ben and I dropped in to order take-out again. We waited for about 10 minutes in the new lobby area before anyone noticed us. They came over and went to seat us, but we said we wanted take-out so they gave us the new menus. I asked about the new sides and the waiter seemed completely perplexed at me asking which ones were vegan. He told me the fries were vegan and I asked again which ones of the chalkboard were vegan, at which point he said that they could make a vegan salad too and so I finally gave up and ordered fries. We then waited bother 10 minutes for someone to come back and take our order. Then, we waited for 20 minutes to get our food (which was only two meatball subs--I have no idea what could take that long to make two meatball subs). When we finally got out food we decided to look at it to make sure it was right (remembering the above experience) and found that our two orders of fries were missing. After about 5 minutes we finally got the attention of the waiter and told him (at least he said sorry), had to wait another 5 minutes for our fries, and then finally got out of there after about an hour. Again, extremely frustrating. And seriously? If you have an ENTIRE vegan section on your menu you think your staff would be AT THE VERY LEAST know what vegan means and preferably know what items on the menu are and aren't vegan. Come on now.
So, after these two experiences I decided to email Station 22 and tell them. I really love their food, and I want desperately for local vegan-friendly restaurants to do well.
Their response was extremely gracious. Read for yourself:
"I appreciate both the positive and negative feedback you've given us. Please accept my apology for the lapses in service that you have experienced. We have been trying HARD to prevent them from happening, but unfortunately we still have some things to iron out. I wish I could tell you that your experience was an isolated incident, but its not, particularly what you experienced before the remodel. There was a wide variety of factors that led to it, but you're absolutely right. The service was degrading, the food quality, and there was a general sense of frustration. It was primarily caused by a failure in the management and the leadership and some significant growing pains as well. It has been a challenge getting the formula right and finding the right help and management.
"Our recent remodel/reboot was our response to the problem. We have a new partner in the business, a seasoned veteran of a chef, and we decided to just restart the whole thing and fix these issues that we had been having. We're still only 2 weeks in to the new restaurant, but we have been doing a much better job across the board and are working to improve every day. I'm more than a little mortified to hear about your experience last night and I will address the issue immediately. I've copied our chef, Jason, on my response and he will make certain that our staff is caught up on exactly what and how to determine what is vegan. Some of our staff are still struggling with the concept, obviously.
"Having said all of that, we are working hard to be the best we can be and you can rest assured that your feedback will make a substantial difference. We love offering strong options for vegan and veg and we particularly try to respond to their needs. Your experience sounds terribly frustrating and I count myself lucky to have heard from you at all. Again, please accept my apology and come in again for a meal on the house. Just tell your server that you are a guest of mine and give them your name and we'll get you properly cared for.
"Thank you for your patience and for giving us another chance. We appreciate customers like you who take the time to help us out, rather than lashing out anonymously in anger. We're a small business in a small city and we love having a close relationship with our customers."
SUPER nice, right? I was like Hell yeah! That's super cool of them and I'll take a free meal any day. So, about a week later, Ben and I dropped by for our free meal and to see if any improvements had been made.
Unfortunately, it seems that the nice email I received was all talk. I wasn't at all impressed with the service and I realized that the waiters honestly just don't pay attention.
For example, when ordering we noted that every item we ordered should be made vegan. However, when the waiter brought us our fries they had fry sauce with them. When I asked if the fry sauce was vegan, he had to ask the chef and then told us the fry sauce wasn't vegan. It's these kinds of things that slowly degrade the dining experience when you have to pay attention to every little thing.
Another example: When I came in, I told the waiter I was a guest the guy who sent the above email (the owner) as specified and told him my name. He asked me if I was "looking for a discount or something" (rude!) and I told him that I was promised me a free meal by the owner. However, when we were done eating he brought us our check and didn't say anything about the free meal. He even came by and cleaned up our plates and didn't say anything about it! Luckily after a bit the chef (who was included on my complaint email) realized who we were and took care of the check (that part was actually super nice and he was nice).
But, AGAIN, the staff was not informed on what was and wasn't vegan. The waiter had no idea which salad dressings were vegan. We waited nearly ten minutes for him to talk about it to the rest of the staff until he finally came back and said that they didn't know if any of them were vegan so they chef would do some oil and vinegar on our salads (um, ew). Luckily someone ran up and said the balsamic vinaigrette was vegan. It's not fun to have to do the job of the waiter when you're just trying to have a nice evening out! GUH.
AND the waiter seemed confused and flustered like I mentioned before. Just like generally frustrated and weird. I don't get it. I seriously think that Station 22 hires their waiters based on how they look and not on how they perform, serve, or for their people skills. It's so frustrating. I get that they're trying to have this (dare I say hipster?) vibe-thing, but I don't think it should be at the expense of the customers (I'm sure the staff are all very nice people, but I don't get why they can't do their jobs.).
To top it all off, the recipe for the ratatouille has changed which I am completely distraught about. This used to be my all-time favorite menu item but now it's actually gross. There are less tomatoes and vegetables in general, more spinach (WAY too much--like two freaking inches!), and it's bland. I was very disappointed and will not be ordering it again.
Sooooo I sent another complaint email with the above info saying I wouldn't be back until things got better and they never responded. Nice huh? Though I think they may think I'm some kind of crazy...
If you got this far in this post, I'm impressed. I just wanted to get my feelings out about this and let other vegans (and patrons in general) know what's up. If you have a similar experience PLEASE email them (their email is firstname.lastname@example.org). Maybe if a bunch of people have the same complaints they will actually change things and not just say they are going to.
But, before I stop typing, here is a picture of their new battered sweet potato wedges! They're delicious with the BBQ sauce!
Posted by Meggie at 5:05 PM