But in the past six or eight months, I have noticed an extremely consistent trend in crazy service in the bar section of the 1604 and Culebra Chili's, and I simply can't let it go beyond this evening; Chili's, you people need to know that directly across 1604, all that dust and construction and loads of new traffic are several new competitors that are just waiting to get started on earning my business.
But let me just fill you in on our experience tonight. First, it isn't so much our waiter. We have had this kid before and he is a good, friendly waiter. The problem is with the rest of the people milling about as if shift change is like some sort of two-hour overlap process where nobody does any actual work.
When we walked in around 4:30PM, the place was empty. The hostess immediately went to seat us in the regular dining section but my wife asked her if we had to sit in the bar to qualify for Happy Hour specials. (Don't even get me started on Happy Hour!) The hostess turned us around and sat us at a booth in the bar area and aside from the fact that there were only a few people in the area, we immediately noticed that there was no bartender.
This was not a problem because our intent was to eat, but it was a sign of something bad. An experience we had on previous seating's in this same area. By the way, am I the only person who finds it a tad bit unhealthy that they toss the receipt for the drinks in the tops of the drinks? In other words, say you are sitting in the regular area but you order a beer. Your server goes to the bar, orders up your beer then walks away to take some other customer their drinks. When the bartender (assuming they are there) fills your beer to about two inches below the top of the tall glass, thus serving you the same amount as if your ordered a regular size, he or she then takes the receipt and tosses into the top of the glass so your server will know which table to take it to. I trust the ink is edible.
So anyway, our server comes by and says he'll be right with us then leaves for about 10 minutes. I notice that two guys, apparently contractors of some sort, are seated at the bar near our table. Both these guys are working the cell phones, but are kind enough to leave the restaurant each time the phone rings.The result is, for the majority of the time we were there, these two guys would take quick chugs of beer, then be outside for 5 to ten minutes at a stretch.I trust they were coordinating the building of a new restaurant in Alamo Ranch while waiting for refills of beer.
I keep noticing the staff just hanging around, maybe having a meeting of some sort, and even though they are technically standing in the "employees only" area, they are in clear view of the customers. I could just tell that this was not going to be a quick dinner.I ordinarily limit my Chili's consumption of beverages to either unsweetened iced tea or a single tall Miller Lite. Because of the unreasonably slow service, I was forced to order a second tall Miller Lite. This would have been fine had I not been waiting for an extra long time. And here is the real problem. If you sit in the bar area, you see everything that is going on in the bar, you know that you could simply get up, serve yourself a tall water, a fresh lemonade, or in this case, a Miller Lite, and it would happen in a reasonable time. If it was a case of a bartender constantly making drinks, mixing Margaritas or doing all sorts of Tom Cruise Cocktail tricks, you could sit back and wait your turn. But there was no one at the bar, yet three feet away, multiple Chili's uniformed servers chit-chatting and milling about like they were waiting for the results of a horse race.... and then my burger came. I went with the Jalapeno Smokehouse Big Mouth Bacon Burger. When cooked right, this puppy is seriously YUM! But if we mistake "medium-well" for "stick it in the microwave until it is overdone, then leave it on the counter until it is only slightly warm", it isn't that great.My wife ordered some mushroom burger and asked for bacon on it, but was then upset that her bacon wasn't the same real thick good bacon that came on my Big Mouth Bacon Burger. Bacon discrimination: Call LULAC.
Oh, I checked my receipt later. We didn't even get Happy Hour prices on the drinks we ordered. WTH?
Yes, Alamo Ranch is open. We Culebra folk' now have our own version of Bandera Pointe - no, better yet, The Rim! So let us count the competitors ready to take my money:
- Logan's Raodhouse: I used to go to the one up on I-10 until Texas Roadhouse opened at Ingram and 410. This Logan's will be closer.
- Mama Margie's: We enjoy the one on I-10, but this one is, say it with me.... Closer!
- Ruby Tuesday: Fairly new around here but I've enjoyed them in airports and this is going to be a shocker, they are pretty much like Chili's.
- Red Robin: How many times have I yammered on about Red Robin? And now I won't have to drive to The Rim. Hell, I'll pull into Home Depot (or the new Lowe's if they don't get their act together) and then pop in for one of those huge stacks of onion rings, and a burger with an egg on top.