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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Lunch Report: Cheddars at 410 and Military...

I don't think we have had a restaurant opening so greatly anticipated since... Mr. Cod..., but the new Cheddar's has finally opened for business, and against better advice, we made it in for lunch on Day 2. And they were ready for us!The parking lot was packed and there were two or three full rows of parked cars away from the building which we later learned were the employees. Upon entering, you couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting a member of the wait staff or a manager or greeter. Off to a good start in my book.

As we were seated, the hostess told us about some appetizer or something that we ought to try and seemed not only friendly, but genuinely professional, not like some disinterested ditz we may have interrupted from an important text message.
We have never been into a Cheddar's before, but assumed it to be a standard mix of Chili's, Friday's, Applebee's, Bennigan's etc, and I suppose it was, but for some reason, it just seemed, a bit more upscale, at least in appearance. Perhaps they just have better designers. I liked the brickwork and huge planters around us, and in the center of the place, they had this huge horizontally rotating fan system. They also had a really nice aquarium set-up, so I won't have to take my wife to Corpus Christie this year to see fish.

The menu offers up a fairly wide variety. Between the short time that our waiter took our drink order and brought them, we had both changed our minds numerous times on what to order.

By the way, speaking of waiters: we have had some good luck recently. I mentioned a few weeks ago the waitress at Spanky's being exceptional; our waiter James G. at Cheddar's was so on the spot professional that I suspect some business owner will come in for lunch and attempt to lure him into the business world. The guy was simply impressive. We never felt like we were being pressured, but he would casually suggest items or simply work the idea of dessert into the conversation. Ask for him when you go.
On to the vittles. As an appetizer, we had to order the onion rings. They come neatly stacked on a plate and the order is easily enough for a table of four people. They were good and I would gladly order them again. I could have stood to have them cook for even another 20 or 30 seconds, but they were certainly tasty and not too crunchy. I do not like crunchy onion rings.My wife finally decided on the chicken pot pie. We didn't know what to expect, but she was pleasantly surprised with the thick golden crust and the piping hot contents. I even had a taste and it was enjoyable.She chose the house salad as her side and I would say it was comparable to what you get at Chili's. Fresh croutons and a good size for a side. Not shown in the picture here (because either I was too slow with the camera or she was too fast with the bread) was a really soft and delicious croissant that came with the salad. It was fresh and good.Because I could see myself being stuffed on onion rings, I opted to just get the triple cheese hickory burger. You will notice that the plate came without a side of fries or anything. I like that. Since we ordered the rings as an appetizer, there was no reason for me to get fries or a salad or anything else, and with the burger, the side was an option. That means the price of the burger was comparable to What-a-Burger. For the size, at a sit down restaurant, I'd say under $5.00 is pretty good for a burger. And it was good. No, I won't go as far as to single out this burger as a favorite, but it was certainly very acceptable and well delivered.

As we sat there enjoying our meal, there was some commotion at the booth behind us. There was a family of four and from what we could see, they had also ordered onion rings as an appetizer. One waiter came out and delivered the onion rings and within a matter of seconds, a second waiter came out and delivered the rest of the meal. The mom in this group seemed to go a little overboard in my opinion, but her point was that they had waited way too long for the appetizer, and now, with it being served with dinner, what was the point?

A third waiter quickly came to the table to hear the complaint and as he was talking to the folks, another person went to retrieve a manager. By the time the manager arrived (20-30 seconds, max) the waiter had defused the situation by telling the loud lady that the manager would make things right for them.

From what I could observe and hear (the manager kept things very calm and quiet), there was simply no excuse for the bad service and he would be adjusting the bill accordingly. Further, before anyone could even ask for it, someone was bringing the husband at the table a new beer (even though he had only taken a few sips of the one he had) and I suspect it was on the house.

The point in my mind was, these people were not happy, and in order to gain their future business, this manager and staff were going to do whatever was necessary to have them come back for another visit. And I bet they will.

And we will return as well. Look, you go go to any number of places and find bar & grill food at pretty much the same price. If the Cheddar's folks can deliver on service like we received (or have managers that can fix it like the people behind us received), on only the second full day of operations, then they are well on their way to becoming a favorite choice for us.
Don't wait a month, they seem ready for you to visit now, and my wife promises you'll be doing the Happy Dance too!


Anonymous said...

mmmmmmmmm Pie .....:)

brenty said...

Having jumped the gun at Cod fishy I mean, Mr. Cods, I hesitate going anywhere on their opening day. But since you do have good taste buds, maybe I'll venture out there. I am an onion ring lover and have yet to find great onion rings in SA.

Anonymous said...

Cannot wait to go! I love the place. We had one in Peoria, IL. Then one day sadly it caught fire and burned halfway down. They never rebuilt.


frankvw said...

Well, went to Cheddar's for lunch to day. Food was very good although service really lacked. I understand it's going thru the usually growing pains so I'll give them a break. The table next to us probably won't. They complained to the manager throughout their meal - food was cold, wrong sides, hair in meal and long wait were all comments I heard. Not sure if/how the manager resolved the problems but it was bordering on comical.

Maureen said...

We should have gone to Cheddar's instead of trying Buffalo's (Bandera and 1604) today. 19 thumbs down.

deep forest said...

We tried twice to go eat there (at different times) and both times it was a wait of 30+ minutes. So Cheddar's thinks...waiting really annoys me and I told them both times "no thanks" and left. We will try one more time and if re-buffed will be my last trip to their restaurant...ever. Too bad they're a victim of their own success Somebody else is gonna have to do the "Happy Dance".

Dave said...

"We tried twice to go eat there (at different times) and both times it was a wait of 30+ minutes."

I feel your pain. We tried to go again on Friday evening (around 5PM) and they had a 45 minute wait. The good news is, with all those people waiting at Cheddar's, we were able to go to Texas Road House with maybe a five minute wait.

In my mind, no place is worth waiting for over 20 minutes when there are so many other places to go to.

Deep forest said...

Great minds think alike......=0)

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San Antonio, TX, United States
I love to observe the odd things happening around me as I go about my day. I especially like it when I can get a picture of people being themselves. Here, I attempt to report the various people and events I have encountered in my neighborhood, and my city. I'd also love to hear from you. Feel free to e-mail your experiences and photos of life in San Antonio.

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