Friday, February 20, 2009

Dining Out

While Mrs. Curmudgeon is a fabulous cook, the day to day pressures of life mean that we eat out a lot. And we tend to visit the same restaurants on a regular basis.

What continue to amaze and befuddle me, is how two restaurants from the same chain can consistently deliver different levels of performance.

Some examples:

Stuart Anderson Black Angus:
Near the Chandler Mall -- perfect in every way. Clean, smells good, great service and attentive management.
Near Superstition Springs Mall -- we won't go back. It gives us the impression it is dirty, service is mediocre, and there seems to invariably be something wrong with the food.
Near Fiesta Mall -- usually smalls stale/bad. Horrid. I'd rather go hungry.

Red Lobster:
Near the 202 and Gilbert Road -- fantastic. Service, food cleanliness. they have their act together.
Superstitions Springs -- mediocre in every way. Indifferent. I've got to be really hungry to go there.

Olive Garden:
Chandler Mall -- always a superior meal with great service and well-prepared food.
Fiesta Mall -- another big winner. Never disappointed there.
202 & Gilbert Road -- is now on our personal do not dine list. I think the half-cooked pizza was the final straw. It might have been one of the snooty servers.
Superstition Springs -- doesn't stand out one way or the other.
Casa Grande -- new store, strong first impression.

Marie Callander:
I-10 Chandler Blvd -- very consistent, clean (although the men's room could use a refurb), good salad bar, strong managements.
Dobson in Mesa -- just fair, lots of items on the Salad Bar are frozen (yecch - frozen cucumber). Dark, gives the appearance of being dirty, even if it is not. Even the pie case looks boring.

Old Country Buffet:
Superstition Springs -- always good, always sparkling, food is always fresh and the dining room attendants are top notch.
60 & Stapley/Cooper -- an enigma. Great location, history of horrid management, dried out food and indifferent servers. Drive past this store to get to Superstition Springs. Must note, however, that the new manager Harold is making a difference, but it is still going to be a long, hard climb.
Warner Rd, Chandler -- this is actually a Hometown Buffet franchise -- somehow fitting that it is next to a car wash. We speed up when we go past, not worth stopping there.

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I think it comes down to the local managers and if they are more concerned with taking good care of their customers than with squeezing evey possible penny of profit.

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