A couple of friends of mine asked me out to dinner last night. After some discussion, we settled on The Goodnight. I thought this was a good choice: it is a spin-off venture of the people behind the Alamo Drafthouse, which I like, and we’ve been talking about trying it ever since it opened.
I got there a little early (as is my wont). The setup is pretty standard: on the left as you enter is the dining room passageway, with the standard “Please wait to be seated” sign. On the right is a desk with a computer, phone, and a young woman working both.
So I waited to be seated.
And then someone who worked there came out, looked at me, and asked me what I wanted.
I AM FUCKING STANDING RIGHT NEXT TO THE “PLEASE WAIT TO BE SEATED” SIGN. WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU THINK I WANT, ASSHOLE?
(This happens to me every so often when I go out. I’ll walk up to the “Please wait to be seated” sign, and the staff looks at me like I have three heads or something. Yes, people do dine alone. It sets my teeth on edge when they do this.)
I politely explain that I am looking to be seated for dinner. The guy looks around a bit, and then tells me “She’ll help you” and disappears into the back.
“She” is the woman sitting at the desk, who has been on the phone and computer the entire time I’ve been waiting, and shows no sign of acknowledging my existence.
So I wait some more.
“She” finally gets off the phone and computer and comes over to where I am. Once again, we go through the same drill I went through with the previous gentleman: it was apparently inconceivable to her as well that I might actually want a table for myself and the two other people who were joining me.
But finally, I manage to convince her that I would like a table for my party of three, and she finds me one. Sandwiched between two noisy parties, when there are several unoccupied tables a little further down in the dining room, but at least it is a table.
Over the years, I’ve developed a rule. If I start a stopwatch running, and the staff hasn’t acknowledged my existence within five minutes, I walk out. I don’t demand drinks be on the table in five minutes: all I want is for someone to show some sign that they know I’m there, even if it is just “I’ll be with you in a minute, sir”.
At 5 minutes and 3 seconds, literally as I was pushing my chair back to leave, the waitress finally came over and asked if I’d like something to drink. I nursed an ice water for a bit, progressively getting more and more angry, and finally decided I’d had enough of this bullshit.
So I walked out, waited for my friends out in front of The Goodnight, and then we went over to Korea House. Say what you will about Korea House, but at least we were treated like valued customers there, and not like something someone had scraped off the bottom of their shoes.
Congratulations, Tim League and The Goodnight. You’ve managed to earn the coveted SDC “Die In A Fire” status, you’ve ensured I’m never going back to The Goodnight under any circumstances, and you’ve given me a great story that I can tell to as many people as possible.