Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Tale of Two Restaurants

Our regular hotel in Ottawa has renovated and, as such, we don't feel quite 'fine' enough to have breakfast there. Or, frankly, rich enough. A couple of trips ago Joe discovered a restaurant across the street that was open for cheap and cheerful breakfasts. Traditionally, Mike and Joe would stroll over and pick up breakfast for all of us and we'd dine on beautiful white Styrofoam containers in the room The height of class I know. On this trip, the morning of the dance recital, I didn't want to eat in the room, so Joe scoped it out and told me that there was one step up into the restaurant, and that it was a big one. I was feeling adventuresome, so we decided that we'd all head over to Dunn's on Dalhousie.

We got there, I got out of the chair, and with many hands helping, I got up the step and back into the chair. We found a table and had a terrific breakfast. Joe, Marissa and I tried the Eggs Benedict on Bagels (substituting the ham with tomato), the kids had pancakes and Mike had the veggie burger and fries. We chatted about the day and were generally making merry. The waiter was hysterically funny and had us laughing as he served us. He felt comfortable enough to tease us all in that wonderful gentle way that some people have about them.

On our way out, I got through the door and got ready to get out of my chair when I noticed that a sturdy looking ramp had been installed so I could simply roll down. I was shocked. I hadn't asked for it and didn't know they had it. The waiter told us that they keep it just inside the door and anytime we want to come let them know and they'd put it in place. It was a wonderful ramp, long enough to get out easily and I could see that it would have been a tripping hazard for people on the narrowish sidewalk. We're going back to Dunn's next trip and the one after too.

Across the street is another restaurant, a big chain one, that serves Tex Mex and we all decided that's where we'd go after an afternoon celebrating and supporting the arts. We arrived. They have two doors, only one of which opens the other locked shut. I don't know why this is so common but it's annoying. The door that opened was a little narrow. We asked the woman who's job it was, ironically, to greet people, if that door opened. 'No!' she said in a flat firm voice, 'it doesn't open.'



How odd.

I got up and we folded up the chair and got me in. I was annoyed at her brusque 'go away will you' tone. Once in, she smiled welcomingly, at the others and said, 'Good evening, how are you all today.' She said it like we'd had no previous interaction. I said, being ignored does not stop me, 'I'm annoyed.' We took our seats. Some of you may wonder why we didn't just leave and go elsewhere. Well three reasons, we were all tired, I had looked forward to fajitas all day, and - yeah right there's lots of accessible options. 

As we were seated the manager spoke to me, having arrived a little after we got in, and said, 'Let me know when you are leaving and I'll open that other door for you. He was nice but ... too little, too late. As it turned out he couldn't open it up on our way out as it had rusted shut. He promised it would be opened the next time we came. Now there's an optimist.

Two restaurants. two very different attitudes to customer service. One understood the meaning of  'open door' policy, the other, literally did not.

And by the way, the Benny Bagels were smashing.

And the fajitas needed a dash of 'welcome'.


Anonymous said...

It is amazing how the attitude of others can flavor your day.

Places with bad attitude and service have no idea how much they poison the water, so to speak. And it has a ripple effect.

I'm not as interested in the restaurant's "specials" as I am in them making me feel special.

Anonymous said...

It's just sheer stupidity. You can't possibly be the first person to want and need both doors to open at the Tex Mex place. Crikey, the double doors were installed for that reason--so both could open and provide maximum accessibility!

Why the second door has been opened so seldom that it's partially rusted shut is beyond ridiculous. Had there been a fire or other emergency, how could you or anyone else have exited quickly? I think a call to the Canadian equivalent of the Fire Marshall is in order. Not only is that place inaccessible, it's a public danger.


Anonymous said...

PS And yes, I would have been thoroughly annoyed at the server's "I won't recognize you until you stop asking things of me" attitude. Double grrr!


liz said...

Hooray for Dunn's! Boo to the fajita place.

Anonymous said...

I love the way you dealt with the 'well why didn't you just go somewhere else?' question in this post. Like when we come across situations where there are problems, it's the exception not the norm. Yeah, right.
‘…disability is
not about being
brave, it’s about
Ian Dury
I think in this type of scenario it's about being brave so that we all together get organised.

Utter Randomness said...

I know it's been a while since you posted this, but it's good to know that Dunn's has a ramp they can put in. It's one of my favourite places to eat (diner food) in Ottawa and I was always disappointed that they weren't accessible to some folks. We don't eat at the tex-mex place across the street because it's too expensive and we had trouble finding something that wasn't drowning in meat.