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Monday, May 31, 2010

Jim's and Denny's: The Blanco Situation...

I almost don't know where to start. Of course, you all know that I no longer go to Denny's, what with the crappy service I experienced at multiple - okay, two Denny's - one near Lackland and the other at Culebra and Loop 410. I know, swearing off an entire national chain over the lack of prompt coffee or immediate recognition by wait staff is probably a little over exuberant in some circles, and I confess that I may have limited my own choice in breakfast destinations over that last several years. But dammit, sometimes, you gotta speak with your feet.

Make no mistake, I am a huge fan of Jim's. I particularly enjoy the Jim's at 1604 and Culebra in Alamo Ranch simply because they have great service and serve up some fine vittles. So please keep this in mind as I tell you about what happened on Sunday.

There is a nice lady I work with who loves to hear dining recommendations so I am constantly advising her on the choice burger spots and such. Somehow, my disdain for Denny's came up and she told me point blank that I was dining at the Denny's on the wrong side of town. Always, she said, get north of Loop 410 before you consider a Denny's. I tucked that little piece of info in the back of my mind but in all honesty, had no intention of pursuing further.
Sunday, my wife and I needed to get some accoutrement for our backyard and it just so happened that the place we needed to go was on San Pedro. So, we decided to grab a little breakfast action, not at the Jim's on 1604 and Culebra, but at the really elegant Jim's on 410 and Blanco. Yes, the fancy, swanky Jim's at the new Park North near North Star Mall. For those of you not familiar, that is what used to be Central Park Mall.

We walk in and a hostess asks us "Table for three?" WTF? Have I gotten so fat that I actually count for two people at restaurants now? Uh, just two - if you have something that will accommodate us, thanks.
The lady gave us the option of waiting, or offered us seats at the bar, which we are cool with and took.

I know this happens all the time; signals get mixed, wires are crossed and hostesses don't always communicate with waiters. So we sat looking at the menu for longer than one would expect. Okay, my opinion is about 30 seconds on that, but my wife is comfortable with several minutes. Regardless, we had begun to memorize the daily specials when Eva made her intentions known. She was prepared to UnAss the AO the minute I gave the word.

Relax is my usual standby, but even I was finding the ritzy Jim's to be a bit unfriendly. Worse, a group of four people who came in behind us and were seated at a booth near us were now having their order taken. And that was all I needed to know. We UnAssed as it were, and found a Denny's directly across the street.

By the way. If I were a restaurant manager and some folks got up and abruptly left, I'd chase them down and ask why. That didn't happen, but if you are the manager of the Jim's at 410 and Blanco, E-mail me and I'll give you the full story.
The first thing that happened at Denny's was that a young man selling Sunday papers opened the door for us and with no pressure, offered a paper - which we gladly purchased and tipped for. Next, the second we walk in, what I assume to be a host is asking us "table or booth". We opted for booth and he immediately has us seated and takes our beverage order. The hell? This is precisely why I have boycotted Denny's for years - because the bastards would not give me a cup of coffee. Now, the guy who seated us within 8 seconds of our arrival has two cups of fresh coffee and little jugs of creamer on the way.
Justin was the waiter's name and once the coffee was delivered he was there to take our order. We were both shocked and confused to the point that we had to ask him to give us a minute. Friends, that's a good feeling after all these years.

We were not aware that Denny's offers a $2 menu, nor were we aware that the Grand Slam is now one of those build your own type of deals. You simply choose four items from their selection and they charge you the price of a Grand Slam. I fully recognize that some of you have got to be wondering what rock I have been living under for the last several years, but honestly, when I choose to boycott a particular restaurant, I mean it, for at least a while.
So in little to no time, my wife had a a snack from the $2 menu: Some SOS as we call it, or gravy on biscuits. Aside that, she had an order of well-browned hash browns. What a deal - a plate full of food for $2.
I built my own Grand Slam with some eggs, bacon, sausage and grits. Yes, I know, I should be penciling-in a date with a heart surgeon, because you just know at this rate, it won't be long. The eggs and bacon we great, sausage okay and the grits, by grits standards were a bit weak, but good enough for me to eat.

The most important fact here was the excellent, prompt and courteous service we received at this Denny's compared to the shockingly inexplicable lack of performance by the Jim's less than a block up the street. How does such a thing happen?

Of course, I've seen the business end of a fork or two at loads of restaurants, so I fully understand that sometimes you just show up when they are having an off day. We can all forgive the fact that a cook didn't show up or one of the waitstaff just got fired, but when you are having an off day, at minimum - at the very minimum, you acknowledge your customers and you let them know that help is on the way - even if it isn't. And in a well run place, a waiter who sees a table being neglected - even if it is not their assignment - will at minimum take a drink order if only to keep a customer from leaving before the real waiter can get to them.

Have you been to the Jim's at 410 and Blanco and had a better experience than we did? Have you been to that same Denny's and received crappy service? I'd love to know. Leave a comment won't you?


Anonymous said...

.........thems good eatin'.............nena

Deep Forest said...

Does that not tork you off ??...go into a place sit down and wait for service only to see people come in twenty minutes after you've been there be seated and get their food. Happened to me at the Cracker Barrel...Wrote a rear nasty letter to HQ (in Tennesee I believe) and CC'd the manager of the place as well. Took me almost a year to get over that one.

Jennifer said...

The first mistake you made was trying the ritzy Jims. I avoid them all as a rule. Your second mistake was not going to Blanco Cafe. ;D

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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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