Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Wahlburger Bummer

With as much reality tv that I've watched, I haven't watched Wahlburgers, but my sister-in-law does. One of the highlights of her visit back to New York was that we'd all go to Wahlburgers in Coney Island. So after a long day out in the sun, riding rides and playing games and winning stuffed things, we went over to Wahlburgers.
Later that day, I sent four emails. I sent one from my AOL account to a customer service email for the restaurant in CI. It got bounced back. Then I sent it from my Ymail account. It got bounced back. I sent the email to the customer service for the company itself from my AOL account. It got bounced back. Then I sent it from my Ymail account. Then it got bounced back. So then I took to Yelp:

The wait outside around 5 PM took less time than what they told us, which was fantastic. They took us into the dining area on the first floor where tables had been put together for us. There was one other group in the restaurant who already had their food.

We ordered quickly as there was no line, and then we sat and waited. We had three children with us who patiently waited as well.

We asked several times about our food order as we waited. Nothing seemed to be happening. The staff was very friendly, but still, we were hungry and thirsty.

Our food--a few burgers, a turkey burger, some mac and cheese, and fries--took 40 minutes to come out. That wait time seems rather long, especially when waiting with children after spending a day outside. [We checked at the counter several times, and each time they said it was coming soon].

The food unfortunately was not all worth the wait. The portions were terribly small for the price range, but we could deal with that had the food been delicious. It wasn't. The burger in the Thanksgiving Day sandwich was really bland as were the Sweet Potato Tots. On the plus side, the sauce and squash on that sandwich were very good.

Overall, the experience was underwhelming, especially after planning to eat there for months as we waited for my in-laws to finally arrive. I hope that future customers have a better experience.

On Yelp a few days later, I got an answer from Wahlburgers:
Hello Christina. Giving our Guests a great meal experience is our primary goal. If you could message us the date of your visit we'd like to investigate further. Thank you for the thorough feedback.

So I messaged them privately. A week later, I updated my Yelp review to add this:
*Update: I messaged the business here because they asked me to, and no one ever got back to me.

About three days later, I got a message in my private Yelp inbox from a guy named Mark, apologizing that no one got back to me, asking for my email.

So you know how at the end of May I found a new best friend named Sinbad because Sinbad responded to my tweets? Yeah, so I immediately realized that this person apologizing and asking for my email was my new best friend, Mark Wahlberg. Not that Sinbad was being replaced. No, Mark Wahlberg and Sinbad were now my Co-Best Friends. It's a thing. Don't judge.

So here I am with Mark Wahlberg extremely concerned that no one responded to my issues with the restaurant. What to do? I sent my email addresses, explaining that he should email me at both because I was having a problem with bounce backs from his company.

Wouldn't you know it? Mark Wahlberg emailed me back at both, asking me if I got his message.

I did, and I asked him for this thoughts.

He replied that I should call him on Monday. He gave me his phone number.

Also, I should point out that Mark Wahlberg was cleverly disguising his identity by using a fake last name. So while Mark "Smith" was emailing me, I knew it was really Mark Wahlberg, my new best friend who is my Co-Best Friend with Sinbad. 

I called him on Monday. The first thing he did was give me his cell phone number. That way, if I was back at the restaurant and something was going wrong--even if I saw something that didn't concern me--I could call him and he'd immediately contact them to make it right.

This guy? Is no joke. Imagine, juggling movies, television, family, and the management team at the Wahlburgers in Coney Island.

I should point out that Mark "Smith" Wahlberg was cleverly disguising his identity by using a fake voice. Maybe it was computer generated. Maybe it's his mad acting skillz. Whatever the case, he did not sound anything like the Mark Wahlberg we hear on any screen anywhere.  Gosh, my new best friend is so talented.

So he asked me what happened, and I recapped what I'd wrote. Then he asked, So no manager came to you to explain what was going on? I was like, No, Mark "I Know Your Real Name Is Wahlberg and You're Using A Fake Voice" Smith, no one told us what was happening.

He sighed a very exasperated sigh. Clearly, he was unhappy. The reviews across the board are really bad. There are some reviews that give 5 stars on some sites, but for the most part, it's just really bad. He explained that they'd already switched the way they do service so that there's no more ordering at the counter. I said it was a great change. He also said that re-training was on the way. I said that was a great idea.

Then he said that to make things right and so that we could have the experience they wanted us to have, we could go back any time as his guest. He told me we should go on a Friday night to watch the fireworks from the rooftop. That sounded great to me.

A few weeks later, I emailed him to ask if the offer still stood. He said of course it did, cc'ing the general manager to let him know we'd be coming and when. He asked me to let him know how things went the next day.

Eddie and I showed up. We dined. We left. 

The next day, I emailed him this:

Dear Mark [I know your name is Wahlberg],

Thank you for having us as your guests at Wahlburgers in Coney Island last night. We really appreciated the chance to experience the rooftop and watch the fireworks. Great views!

I'm including this next bit of information not as a complaint but in the hopes that it helps you improve the restaurant. We unfortunately encountered several issues again. 

The wait staff could be more attentive. Our server rarely came to check on us in the nearly three hours we were there. It seemed he may have had too many tables to serve. When he did come over, he was very attentive and friendly. 

Getting drinks, a water and a Coke, took over ten minutes. The Coke was not good so we ordered a Sprite additionally, which was fine.

We waited for our food for over half an hour, but that wait time seemed typical for all the tables.

If ordered the mushroom sandwich, asking for no onions and the sauce on the side. I thought the sandwich tasted funny after a few bites. I found onions in it. The sauce never came (again the server didn't come over so I couldn't ask for the sauce or point out the onions. I should state that our server repeated No Onions to me as he wrote it down, so the problem was in the kitchen).

My husband said his burger was ok.
The fries seemed as if they were made of plastic. The tater tots were good, so I wound up eating those.

We'd been finished for at least 20 minutes before the server took our food and we called after him for a dessert menu. He strongly suggested the Fluffanutta, so we ordered that.

It took a half hour at least for dessert to arrive, but our server checked in with us to apologize and say it was coming. 

In the meantime, someone who seemed to be a manager came over and asked us how everything went. I told him about the onions on the sandwich. He said, Sorry about that, and then asked if we needed refills or if we wanted dessert. We said we'd already ordered dessert, so he suggested we have it with ice cream as he walked away.

The dessert was pretty good. The server found out and explained that the runner had tripped while bringing the dessert up so it had to be made again (we hope the runner is ok-- we saw them all hustling).

So that was our night. I know the restaurant is still fairly new, so hopefully you can work out the issues. Again, I appreciate your taking the time out to listen and to do your best to make it right.

He emailed me right back, obviously exasperated (I mean, he's dealing with this AND producing Ballers AND maintaining his physique), explaining that they'd hired a consulting company that was going to retrain all the management and then the rest of the staff, and that my input would be really helpful.

The staff isn't the problem, clearly. I mean, they hustle and they are friendly. They also seem to be running around like maniacs more than they should. It's clearly a managerial problem considering the manager's response to my having the wrong order was to run away while telling me to order ice cream. He had no idea that our meal was going to be for free anyway; he should have offered the meal or a dessert comped. The waiter was the one who knew and he made sure we had everything we needed right through to the end (even though everything took about 38 minutes in between. Yes, we left a tip. We're not savages.

Although it wasn't a great experience, I'm coming out of this one completely on top. After all, it's not every day a gal can have the greatest Co-Best Friends in life. Me and Sinbad and Mark, BFFs!

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