Thursday, May 17, 2012

Don't Tread On Me

Me, Page, Lucy (Stephanie was asleep.)

Last night my sisters and I patched together a late night rendezvous downtown at a lounge. Provo has lounges, you know, this one in particular only serves virgin drinks but anyway and so forth.

So there I was sipping my mango mojito, eyes scrolling the menu for something I could enjoy. I have been to this lounge many times, but only twice successfully and one was the first month it opened when they had some of the best chefs in Utah back in the kitchen. After the chefs left, so did the excellence of the food and still, I continued to go back like the lounge monkey (that I am).

Indecision abounded. I asked our drink server for recommendations.

"Everyone likes the spicy chicken sandwich," he tells me.

I don't...know, it's just, chicken. first choice, but ok, so...I'll try it.

When our regular server showed up I ordered the chicken sandwich.

(My blog just went from lesbian erotica to chicken sandwiches.)

When it arrived I quickly discovered it wasn't a chicken sandwich but a bleached chunk of truck tire slathered with a melange of guacamole, pink sauce and a tomato with the texture of watermelon. About two bites in I discovered the tasteless bacon.

Tasteless bacon; if you'd have told me such thing existed before last night I would have laughed at you, but now I believe. Satan is real.

"This is awful," I blurted out, my mouth full of coated rubber. I may have come off a little loud, my ears could only hear the inner workings of my incisors taking task to an impossible mastication. It sounded like records being spun by little DJs in my ears.

Page had asked for the entree salad but was denied because apparently this lounge doesn't serve entrees after nine. But she COULD order the side salad, which is the SAME salad as the entree salad but smaller. Dear Geniuses of the world, I don't get that at all, please explain. Love, Me.

Lucy was just saving room for dessert. Look, it's her diet plan not mine.

So we carried on until this rubber sandwich was too much and I said; "I am not going to say anything, I'm not in a place," because Chup and I had recently had a conversation about how I need to really work on friendly exchanges with people who disappoint me. If I feel unsafe to say my truth, it boils up inside of me until I am a toxic volcano of emotion.  When I eventually explode, it can come across really angry or snarky when in general I'm a pretty affable person but more than anything at that point all I wanted was a glass of water.

My virgin mojito was downed, you see, and so was my mojo.

But Page is the kind of person who will do your dirty bidding for you, so when our server returned Page of the Side Salad said, "I like mine (side salad) but her's (mine) is not so good," and the server said; "Oh no! Is the chicken old?"

To which I responded; "What do you know about this chicken that you are not telling me?"

Is my chicken old?

"I mean, does it taste old?" she tried to clarify.

"Uh, it, well, it, just, sorta, why don't I show you?" and I took out my knife and tried to cut the bleached tire with my knife to which the tire didn't budge, not the slightest pierce of incision.

The server was great to apologize, "Let me see what we can do" and hurried herself back to the kitchen.  Not before I begged - for my throat- a glass of water.

And like a mirage in the desert, when she returned for Lucy's dessert order, there was no drink of water.

I was too parched to make it vocal.

(Did I mention we were the only ones there?)

Lucy ordered a trio of desserts which came in a cute little arrangement with cute little cups and cute little spoons for tasting--Lucy really is what she eats--wink.

When the dessert arrived Lucy asked for me (her voice was intact) for my drink of water and then we all started in on tasting the dessert. I got my water (EUREKA!) the same moment Lucy discovered a two inch piece of plastic bag in her mouth from the fruity cute little cup.

Oh yes.

Our poor server was apologetic and said; "Let me ask the owner what we can do for you," and so when our checks came back there was a 50% reduction on my bill and Lucy's bill (the side salad remained at full price).

50% off of a 100% inedible sandwich.

And 50% off of the plastic bag dessert, 100% tainted to begin with.

Plus, two coupons for next time we visit which MARK MY WORDS WILL BE NEVER.

When I got home, Chup and I debriefed and again, he tried to coach me on how to tweet about this experience without coming off too angry, but then he said; "You know, do what you got to do."

I'm not angry, but this lounge has disappointed me, my family, my friends and my community repeatedly and I feel a need to call it out publicly. I love downtown Provo, I've dedicated a lot of time to seeing the success of its economy and culture, so it pains me a little to do this.

It was Spark.

So there's that.


TheOneTrueSue said...

Did that feel good? Because I bet it felt Oh So Very Good.

"When I eventually explode, it can come across really angry or snarky when in general I'm a pretty affable person..."

YES. I don't get angry about the big things, just the little things. All The Little Things.

Whenever I get really disappointed with a business I go on Twitter and rage about it. Of course, since this is generally the ONLY time I go on Twitter, everyone basically ignores me. Except for Carina and Christy G., because they are nice friends who are willing to indulge my rage. But still. I have to vent somewhere, else I die.

But I am SO DOING THIS with regard to a certain trampoline place in Kaysville because - WELL. I can't even talk about it without feeling a ragehole in my stomach.

(This cannot be healthy.)

Also, lesbian erotica made me laugh.

Longest comment ever. I am just REALLY FEELING YOU right now.

C. Jane said...

Thanks Sue. Whenever you validate me I feel really super about myself.

I realize this is First World Problems here, but not even my Third World friends shouldn't have to pay for a tire sandwich.

C. Jane said...


turleybenson said...

Name names, my friend. I love that you did that. (am I alone? who cares)

Lauren said...

Good for you! ... and I'm betting these people are soon to be very sorry! Don't they know who you are?! (I'm meaning that in a somewhat joking divaly way... if that's a way...) But seriously. Glad you blogged it. Must have felt good, and now I know where to stay away from if I ever visit Provo!

Drew Danburry said...

I liked reading what you wrote.

I want to convert Spark into an independent movie theater. Provo needs that. I won't get into ALL the amazing details of the plan. But there's that, too. Working on it.

Colleen said...

So glad you called them out! I have said for years that someone needs to come up with a really great, really viral website where people can share their bad service experiences. There is no accountability in the retail world and it drives me bonkers.

Also, it's too bad Spark has gone downhill. I went a couple of times early on and really loved it.

Lidia Lavonna said...

Yuck yuck yuck. Businesses that do not do good business one-hundred percent deserve to be called out in a public fashion. Only fifty percent off?! I bet you didn't even eat fifty percent of the chicken, so they can't make the excuse that you ate what you had to pay for. I mean, I get that stuff happens in restaurants, but if it does happen, the correct course of action is a full refund and follow-up apology e-mails directly from the manager. Yeesh.

Nancy said...

Oh I hate when stuff like that happens because I usually want to really really like a place but when shitty stuff happens I just have to move on! And the mojito on their main page looked so yummy - but make mine with alcohol please!
Yeah, it would probably be my last visit there too.

TheOneTrueSue said...

"Don't they know who you are?!"

See, this is exactly how I feel when I get bad service. I'm like, "Don't they know who I am?"

And then I remember that I am nobody, and then I am EVEN. MADDER.


(sorry for the swears)

(Well - not really but I think it's more polite to at least pretend)

Lisa said...

I would like to say I ate round table pizza last night and have been spewing out both ends since then. And I am 37 weeks pregnant and really could have done without food poisoning. Thanks round table.

Rebecca from See Me Rwar said...

Been there twice. Disappointed twice.

First of all, it's always empty. If it were a hopping place that would help leaps and bounds.

And yet, even with the emptiness, orders never seem to be quite right.

It's such a shame since the concept is a good one.

Susan said...

Good for you! I've heard that place went really downhill after it first opened. We've never gone because we heard it was terrible.

Carly said...

I am so grossed out by this post! That is Naasssty!

Jennifer Shigley said...

Wow... I've had meals botched totally up and when they make good on it, like 100% off because THEY screwed up 100% of it... then I'll return because it was an honest mistake and crap happens.

But not only is that gross... but customer service (which, really, is the ONLY reason to go out to eat all... we can cook for ourselves, we go out to eat for the service) was terrible too!

"Was the chicken old?"

Sounds like that's been an issue before... I'm picturing some geriatric Chicken who is weather worn and breasts hanging to the bottom of her coop going to the butcher, serving her up and flopping her old flesh onto your sandwich. Gross, indeed.

Angela said...

Once, when I was six, I got a hamburger from a local chain fast food restaurant. It cost one dollar. Upon unwrapping the sandwich, my mother marched it back up to the counter waving it in her hand. I know it was a march because I had never seen her thigh parallel to the floor before without some sort of furniture in between. She stated that she is now owed ten cents due to the wear and tear on her sneakers it took to go the fifteen feet to the counter and ninety cents for the asprin she was going to have to take because she knew it was about to get ugly over a dollar hamburger that was NOT worth her or anyone else's four quarters.

On the way back, with another sandwich, my dad looked at her and asked why she could not invoke that passion over my meddling grandparents or my sister's completely inept sixth grade teacher. She shrugged and bit into my hamburger.

Good times.

B said...

My grandmother is French - and the French have a "special" knack for getting their way - or at least letting you know what they think.

Once, while my sister and I were dining with her at Red Robin and they forgot to place our order, she marched up to the waiter after nearly an hour wait and said, "we are leaving, this is ridiculous. And...and...we are taking these cups. Come on girls!"

She motioned for to stand up and grab the glasses that we had been patiently sipping water in. We obey our French grandmother - so we picked them up and left.

The waiter was speechless and those Red Robin glasses are now homages to standing up for yourself. I love them. And I love my grandma.

I also hate Spark.

Barbara Short said...

Bad restaurants must be called out...always! There is no excuse for a place to serve garbage. Unless the name of the lounge is 'Garbage'. Good for you!

Super B said...

My husband and I went to a restaurant the other night and when we found a piece of red tape in our stuffed mushrooms, not only did they give us some new ones (which were quite tasty) they did not charge us for them at all. If that kind of service comes from a chain restaurant, you'd think at a private establishment the service would be even better. Sadly not so in this case. Maybe the next time you're in town, we'll have to go to dinner somewhere that you can get great service.

Alexa Mae said...

One of THEE most hilarious posts I've read in a while. Gosh, I love you.

Natasha and Jesse said...

Good for you! I think other people need to know when food/service is bad at a restaurant.

My sister once found a band-aid in a sandwich at a restaurant and they gave us $50 in coupons...needless to say we didn't go back and take them up on that offer.

Mel said...

So THAT'S what husbands are for...coaching you through the snarky moments. You can tell I haven't had one for awhile because I've got the same "snarky" problem. "My truth just boils up in me" that's a very good line and I know just how you feel.
Where oh where is the patience I always pray for?

ginnydeegan said...

GOOD FOR YOU! There is NO WAY either you or Lucy should have had to pay for your food. She had to pay half the cost for something they served with a plastic baggie inside?! They had a chance to make it right when you were there. Too bad the manager/owner made such a poor decision. Maybe they'll practice better customer service from now on.

Elizabeth said...

OH MY WORD. I am so glad you wrote this. I had the WORST experience at Spark on New Year's Eve. Terrible. Terrible food, terrible service.


Whitney said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alisha Stamper said...

ba ha ha ha ha. oh my goodness. THANK YOU. hilarious and the comments are, too.

we had a similarly awful experience at RICE in SLC. My favorite: 50% off for a 100% inedible sandwich... There are ways to not pay at all without exploding... just like there are unicorns and rainbows, right?

Ruth said...

amen! i knew you were talking about Spark the entire post and i was SO glad you called them out on it! you give good reviews when a restaurant deserves a good review.

and Spark deserved this bad one.

Raychel said...

My mother is the queen of restaurant discounts. She somehow manages to find something in her food or something wrong with it almost every time. Hair, cheese when she didn't want any, too cold, too hot, waited more than 30 minutes, wrong sauce, wrong side, etc. Never plastic baggies, though. She has NO SHAME at all when it comes to asking for a discount, or even asking for it to be free! She's a thrifty woman and is committed to such thrift!

Mary said...

I'm sad to hear that Spark has gone downhill! We just moved to Orem and I have been getting very excited to try out all the places you talk about in Provo. Thanks for the heads up not to waste my money there!
When it comes to going out to eat, if I don't feel like I'm getting my money's worth, I'm not afraid to shout it to the world either! Good on ya!
Gotta say, Jennifer Shigley's comment about the old chicken with "breasts hanging to the bottom of her coop"... I just about died!

Matt Clayton said...

Funny, this is the same way I feel about Allen's Camera.

Just a thought... said...

I have to admit I've always been a little embarrassed when my husband makes a big deal about abysmal service or meals that leave everything to be desired when we eat out, but after reading your blog I can now say I have been truly converted to the need to be real, and honest in calling out a restaurant when they don't measure up to our culinary expectations. Kudos to you for calling a spade a spade. I hope I can be just as brave the next time someone brings me a charred hunk-o-meat with a pile of limp veggies on the side!

Treble Clef ♪ said...

I knew where you spoke of before the 2nd paragraph. I took a sweet elderly friend there for her birthday lunch a while back because she enjoys lovely "trendy" places with good food. Bad choice. I was embarrassed by the poor service and poor food. Should have realized it when we walked in the door and had the place to ourselves. So sad when it is in such a great downtown location.

Ang Campbell said...

I went to a local restaurant recently and while grinding pepper onto my veggies the pepper grinder broke into pieces, deeply slicing the palm of my hand and showering our table and my food with shards of glass. The server promptly brought me bandaids and first aid ointment and removed the food and cleaned the table (and gathered up my bloodied napkins with his bare hands *gag*). The manager brought me a new meal (sans glass shards) and offered to pepper my veg for me this time (*eyeroll*). I tried to be gracious about it all but good grief. No incident report was filled out. No discount on our meal. I was so stunned by their lack of effort to ensure that we didn't sue them for their junk pepper grinder that I ended up just leaving with a dazed look on my face, after paying the full bill.

I love that you outed the establishment! Sometimes it has to be done.

Emily Heizer Photography said...

LOOK DUDE, even freaking MCDONALD"S gave me a full refund when I found a non-food item in y sandwich (it was a flake of metal???)

McDonald's is more classy than a restaurant that nice? WTH.

I am also wondering about HEALTH CODE VIOLATIONS.

Heather said...

I was disappointed when I thought you weren't going to name the restaurant, but smiled with glee when I reached the end and saw the name. Go you!

Kristen said...

I've only been there twice and enjoyed it both times, but it's been a while since I've been. However your experience it totally appalling! On a plus note I really love their bathroom and the faces wallpaper on one of their walls. Maybe if you put them out of business I can get that wallpaper from them because I'm a little obsessed with it. So I guess this review is a win for me! :)

Zoe and Dustin said...

I WAS so excited to try that place, so THANK YOU for making sure I didn't waste my time going there. As a matter of interest, you should go to the health department and check out their restaurant evaluations (they are public records). It will let you know how their public health visits went, and you can find out some surprising info - try it!

annie leavitt said...

"it was spark."


Angela said...

LOL serves them right! I've waited tables and I HATED it when my manager wouldn't comp one of my customers when I asked him to, especially if it was totally NOT my fault that their food was terrible. I knew his cheapness was costing the restaurant customers AND costing me my tip.

Loo said...

Why didn't you ask to speak to the owner or manager directly? Why didn't you tell the staff that you felt it was unfair to pay anything for such an awful experience? I think it is passive-aggressive to use social media to call out businesses in this manner, and it's a frustrating trend. As a culture, aren't we better than that? Can't we speak to each other person to person, let each other know where things have fallen short and how we'd like it fixed?

I've never commented before and should have done so before this to let you know I love your writing. You have a powerful platform and seem to have the heart of a culture reformer. You can do so much better than this sort of communication!

Bri!!! said...

My sister had her wedding dinner there. The lemonade was really yummy, but the main dish was really gross. I was NOT impressed.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mel said...

I'm amazed anyone has had a satisfying meal at Spark. I've been twice and it was awful. I don't know anyone who has ever been happy with their full experience. Also, the reason alcoholic drinks are expensive is because of the alcohol. Charging the same for the non-alcoholic counterpart is absurd to me, although everywhere seems to do it. All this is to say, HOW is Spark still paying their rent?

Sean Jackson said...

I'm sad to see people who may have been on the fence, or just didn't make it down to Spark saying they're now not going to. I've been a patron tens of times (more than 40) since they opened. Yeah, I've seen some things better than they are now, I've seen some things worse than they are now (improved). I've worked in restaurants for many, many years. I've been a server, I've been a bartender, but more than anything else, my time was spent as a cook/chef. You can have up days, you may have down days. You usually have good food stock, sometimes you have bad, and you have to adjust. A really good chef should make the decisions that mean the customer can't tell the difference (there isn't one).

You can see that the owner is wanting a conversation, and to make things right. Forgive what has been done wrong, and try again. If the bar is missed, express that and help them improve. I know the owner values customer feedback. I've been solicited, I shared, and I saw my opinions reflected back to me. This is not a huge corporate entity that we're expected to take or leave. This is a single point of business for an idea that can help bring Provo to another level. Knowing that the owner is willing to address real problems, let's support his efforts to bring some class to town.

Natalie said...

I don't usually comment, but here goes:

I agree with Loo. Something I have learned when I was working in food and retail is that the person that is helping you is usually not the one that can make everything better. I try to make sure to ask for the manager or owner directly. Taking care of it over social media isn't always the best option.

I see that the owner has left a message. I hope that you will follow up with that. Hopefully he will realize "who you are" and recognize the influence you have on people in the area and use that as something to help make his business thrive, not plunge. And, being that you are someone who is trying to improve Provo and focus on the "coolness" that it has to offer, you could be a good person to help him. As someone who is born and raised here I hate to see local businesses be hurt-by their own doing.

PS- I have sat here for several minutes trying to think of a clever/funny/witty way to say how much I enjoy your blog, but, well, this is all I came up with. Sorry :P

Morgan Lee said...

A few points:

1. I don't think C.Jane's post came off in a "Don't they know who I am??" sort of way, but I am annoyed by the couple of comments here that HAVE taken that tone. That is absolutely the wrong attitude. C.Jane was entitled to good food and good service because she was a paying customer, not because she's a blogger.

2. While I agree that talking to the owner directly before bringing her complaints to the internet definitely falls under "best practices", keep in mind that the server said she would talk to the owner -- so we can assume that it was Mr. Ballard himself who produced the lame 50% off discount. I could see myself in a similar situation, concluding that if the weak comp came from the actual owner in the first place, what would be the point of a conversation? Would he have comped her better had he known the complaining customer was C. Jane? I hope not (see #1 above). He had a chance to make up for the crappy experience -- which should have been a 100% comp for the entire bill for everyone, regardless of who the customers are -- and he failed.

3. I cannot know for sure without going there, but their website makes Spark look pretty pretentious. I have dined at plenty of pretentious restaurants and they can get away with it if, and ONLY IF, they offer first rate food and first rate service. Otherwise, you're just Denny's with a cooler image. If you don't have any substance to back up the style, people won't come back. Maybe this is why Spark is empty all the time???

4. I try to be a very forgiving customer. I don't hold mistakes against a server or chef if they make every effort to make things right. A restaurant's job isn't to be perfect, but to come as close as they can. If a problem is dealt with promptly and appropriately, I have no beef. I'm not picky. I was 33 y.o. the first time I ever sent back a meal (a certain overrated seafood place with locations in SL, SoJo, and Cottonwood -- I was served raw salmon, which was then replaced with a raw steak, which was then replaced with a $50.00 gift card for my next visit. Riiight).

Kate said...

I'm a waitress (so I'd like to think I know what I'm saying here), and honestly I am completely horrified that the restaurant made you pay for anything! They should've completely comped you the sandwich and the desserts, because obviously you weren't going to eat them. And "Did it taste old?" I'm sorry?! That's kinda horrifying that they even knew to ask you that question. I try not to be too picky about food in restaurants (my boyfriend would beg to differ), but when something is just off, it's off, and I don't want to eat it. But I'm also a chicken when it comes to things like confronting a waitress, so I try not to do it unless I really, really don't like the food. I'm so sorry you had to deal with that, because it always leaves a "bad taste in the mouth", so to speak.

Vanessa said...

I want to say something---but I don't want Spark to read it. Darn it and I really want to say it.

Natalie said...

My impression is that no one here meant the "don't you know who I am" attitude was something that Cjane was implying in her post. If you read back through the comments you can see that the first time it was used that person made note that it was in a joking way. I think it has a more tongue-in-cheek meaning. I believe that most people would agree that everyone should be treated well, regardless of who they are.

That being said, cjane and her blog do influence people, especially here in Utah County. When she recommends a place to eat cupcakes, people go try those cupcakes, when she sets up a concert, people go to that concert. I appreciate all she does to make her city and surrounding cities (including mine) great. She also has every right to complain about poor service on her blog. And, from the way she hesitated in naming the place, I think she also knows that when she does, people will listen.

I think it was smart for the owner to reach out to Cjane. I just hope that he is willing to do more than just give a discount. He would be smart to listen to Cjane and the comments on this blog and use them to make his business a better place.

I hate seeing small, local business suffer-even if it is from their own mistakes.

Amy said...

Nice that the owner has spoken up and hopefully will try to rectify the situation.

I once dined in a lovely pub but when the waitress came to ask us how our seafood was I had to admit I had chomped down on a small stone. Apologies all round and meal and drinks were complimentary.

Cue to the meal I had where the entree was divine but there was a dead fly in my salad. I should have contacted the manager as the wee waitress seemed terrified when I asked to not pay for the salad. Not her fault but mine for not speaking up directly.

Perhaps they will invite you back for a comped GOOD meal?

vintageblueballoon said...

Rule of thumb. Always, always complain. I was always embarrassed when my mom would complain at restaurants (because we hardly ever went). But as an adult I have totally taken it to heart. They NEED the criticism to improve, and if they are smart they will FIX it! Way to go!

Holly Decker said...

if i were you, i would have just thrown my head back and said, "do you not know who i am?" because seriously... if anyone should care about anyone... they should be caring about CJane. am i right? or am i right? i am right.

Emily said...

My husband, who is deathly allergic to nuts, ordered an item at a Indian restaurant in SLC (Himalayan Kitchen) specifically because the description did not list nuts in the sauce. All of the other items had some sort of ground nuts in them.
When the plate came out and my husband took a bite or two when his mouth started getting itchy and he started to get sick. He spent the next 30 minutes in the restroom purging himself of the contents of his stomach. We told the waiter what had happened and in return he was very rude to us. The waiter said that there was a typo on the menu and that particular item actually did have ground cashews in the sauce. Then, in a very rude and loud tone asked my husband why he didn't tell him he was allergic to nuts when we came in? The manager came over and did the same thing and then offered to give us a 50% discount on only my husbands entree. The entree that could have killed him.
I know the restaurant business is hard, but customer service is and should ALWAYS be number one. Especially when the restaurant screws up!
Good for you for calling them out, sounds like you are not the only one with the bad experience at Spark.

Chatty Natty said...

Alright C - I have to post on this because we are two months into opening our own business and, as a small business owner, I have a completely different perspective. Let me tell you that dealing with the public....well, it can really be a pain in the ass....and that is putting it lightly. I'm big on customer service and the motto that "the customer is always right" but I also believe in fairness. No doubt you had a horrible experience and no doubt that your entire meal should have been free BUT I think it's weak, unfair and pretty low to out a business publicly, especially in the capacity that you just did, without so much as speaking to the manager or owner before doing so.

I would be mortified if something like this happened to our business and we weren't even given a fair chance to correct the situation. In all fairness, who knows what your server said to the manager. A few months ago and I probably would have been cheering you on thinking they deserved it but being on the other side, I'm pretty disappointed. Snarky virtual posts are spineless and immature IMO. Sorry - I'm just being honest and giving another perspective.

@TheOneTrueSue - I know the owner of the trampoline place you are referring to and will give you his personal email address so you can discuss your issues with him. I know he would be mortified to know you were this upset and believe he deserves the respect of hearing it firsthand rather than regurgitated through a viral rant.

Rest assured C, I still love you....but you knew that already.

Emily said...

If the manager was in the house- he should have come to their table. She should NOT have had to track him down. DUH!

lemony lucy said...

hahahaha, great writing. I only went to Sparks once and I loved the food and the service was just fine but it was a few years ago.

You should absolutely tell everyone and anyone who will listen to you at a restaurant when you have food allergies, then repeat yourself a few to 40 more times just to make sure you don't get dead.

You should let people know if the service is not up to par and it's even more helpful if you tell people that can make it up to you or change your experience like it seems you tried to.

I'm in a very people/service oriented job and I find most people that are upset at service just want to vent or get angry and personally insulting ("Does this make your sad life feel better?!! Don't you know who I am?!?!" People really say that, really.) when I suggest ways to help them or let them know I'll get a manager that can help them. When they get even more salty I respond with, "That's so weird, cuz I was jus' trying to help you and you won't let me. And, by the way sir, do you talk to your mom with that mouth?" Okay, I don't say that but I wish I did.

Out businesses in public by all means, as long as you tried to correct their misbehavior/bad servie in a polite manner on the premises as it seems you did. When people come to me with concerns and are polite about it I, and the company I work for, bend over backwards and sideways to fix the problem and help them feel better.

That may also have been a million thoughts. I should start paying you pennies for having to read them.

deb8able said...

I am surprised at the people who say naming this restaurant was wrong. The manager/owner had every opportunity to come to cjane's table and apologize and make this right - instead he/she took 50 percent off for food that was inedible. How many times has this happened that even the waitress knew to question whether the chicken was old.....WHO SERVES OLD CHICKEN????? Disgusting and I would never eat there - ewwww old chicken just makes me ill to think about - can't imagine how ill if you actually ate it.

MMM&M said...

C Jane, I feel a little virtually uncomfortable that you are throwing a small business under the bus. Would be nice if you could do a f/u post with what changes they have made, and you do a re-review of the restaurant. win/win for downtown Provo, and the small business.

even the thought of "old chicken" makes me queasy. uck.

PS said...

I don't think it's bad to post the name the business. How is it different than giving them a bad Yelp review? Perhaps for the sandwich, they can say that just you in particular didn't like it (instead of the sandwich being objectively bad). But, I can't believe they didn't fully refund at least Lucy's dessert -- plastic bag in the food, and you still had to PAY for it!!

Is this your Oprah beef moment, CJane? Will you move this whole show down to Amarillo -- I mean downtown Provo? Will we all get free cars?

politicchic6 said...

I have to share my own Spark story. Back when it opened (Four years ago? Five?) I went in for food and drinks at about 8:30. The food was great and the drinks were tasty but when two of our party asked for water we were told that after 9:00 water had to be purchased, nevermind that we were a party of six, each having already spent over 20 dollars a piece in drinks and dinner. So negative strike one... strike number two came because in my teens I worked in the food service industry and I get lame policies are lame policies. So I went for a jazz night... BIG disappointment. A law school dropout (my friend was in law school with the guy at one time) playing Beatles covers on an acoustic guitar does NOT a jazz night make. Although, to be fair, my husband loves to go in for lunch with his co workers and thinks the food is tasty.

john's mom said...

like many of the commenters, i've waited tables for a lot of my life. i wanted to add one more thought.

if you have bad service/bad food, absolutely complain. but if you have great service/great food, talk to a manager about that too! so many times we only tell the businesses we interact with when we mess up - we should also toot their horn when they do something good.

ok so that's not directly related to this story, but i just thought i'd share ...

john's mom said...

should be when THEY mess up, not when WE mess up. typing faster than i can think.

Elizabeth said...

I don't understand the people that seem to feel that C. Jane "owes" it to Spark/small businessess to school them in appropriate service. Hey Spark, don't serve crappy food and food with plastic in it - I don't even own a small business, but I think I would have that part down. When you do those things, don't ask the people to pay for it - ANY of it. Hey small businesses, if you are providing a service, ask yourself if you would find the service acceptable in another establishment - if not, fix it. Let's all be honest - the only reason the owner is contacting C. Jane is because it is C. Jane - the whole exchange reeks of "don't care" - C. Jane did the right thing. She doesn't have a responsibility to Spark or to any other business, she only has a responsibility to herself. How about the people that feel differently plan to spend their money at Spark for the next few months and they can provide feedback to the owner about what sucks - all at their own expense?

Chelsey said...

I think you've come up slightly ahead of a friend of mine, who went to a chain restaurant and couldn't identify the sauce on top of his chicken. The waitress took his plate back to the kitchen, then brought it back out to him and said, "It's fine, I tasted it and it is cheese." Not another word was said.

Deb said...

I'm sorry but the manager/owner had every opportunity to make this right at the time. He obviously knew about the problem - he comped them 50% so why would she need to seek him out. His job is to make sure the customer was happy and he didn't - therefore this is what happens. I disagree 100% with those who feel it's wrong to call out a restaurant on this blog. The fact of the matter is - they screwed up - they have bad reviews on almost every restaurant review website - and maybe this will finally make them see that changes must be made. If the restaurant is empty alot of the time anyway, it seems that they already had a problem before this blog was posted. As a small business owner I never would have allowed them to leave without comping their meals 100% and a personal apology. If you are in the business of serving the public, be prepared to serve them well or face the consequences. If you don't have the stomach for it, you should find another profession. The fact is, the restaurant had a chance to own up to their mistake and make good on it. They only chose to try and fix things when they saw this negative backlash. I too hope that she posts another review with a glowing recommendation - all restaurants deserve second chances. But I'd still keep watching those reviews on Urban Spoon and Yelp to see whether or not they really are making changes.

ash said...

i'm assuming that most people that live in the area, like me, were thinking "it was spark!" the entire time we were reading. and yet, somehow, seeing it in print made me oh-so-happy!

LeaHall said...

(My blog just went from lesbian erotica to chicken sandwiches.)

Girl, you crack me up.

Tony and Whitney said...

I just sent an email to them with a link to this post. Here's their response:

ey Whitney,

Thanks for your email. We have seen that post and are reaching out to C Jane to apologize and remedy the solution.

If you have any feedback about your experiences to Spark I would love to hear about them. We have always responded to every comment or review we see posted online or offline and want you to know that we value your feedback just as much as the next guest's.

Please reach out to me anytime. I'd love to hear from you.

Blake Ballard
direct: 801-787-1276

Interesting. . .

Erin said...

I love that you named names. There is nothing I hate more than having a horrific dining experience, only to have other people say, "Yeah! Me too! Didn't you know?" Not if you don't tell me.

The last 2 experiences at our favorite local restaurant were so awful that I went to facebook, and 3 different reviewing websites. Their manager needs to be fired.

I felt better, but I miss the place it used to be.

Livyb said...

Wow. I haven't read your comments in a while, and I can see why you are compelled to turn them off every now and then. Just for the sake of you having yet another opinion, I like your review and that you named names. I am happy to see the owner reached out, but better standards should have been in place to avoid the poor experience in the first place. I don't agree with the commenter who has her new small business. Educate your employees to your good customer service standards, and make that a priority. Thanks, Courtney. Love your blog.

Greg and Mel said...

There are some websites that my hubby and I post to, Yelp and Urban spoon. Just look up your city and you can leave a review! I don't see why it is a problem for you to talk about your bad experience at a restaurant because it is YOUR opinion on YOUR blog! Keep those honest comments coming! We are the ones who pay money to THEM, so they need to keep their food and services top notch if they want repeat customers. I read someone's comment about talking to the manager, but I don't think you would have gotten anywhere with that. The cheapies only comped half of the meal for heaven's sake!!!

Unknown said...

Oh sister, this post was made of so many kinds of win. "When I eventually explode, it can come across really angry or snarky when in general I'm a pretty affable person..." Is this like when I think "Why do some people think I am scary? I am not scary. I am usually funny and nice. Unless of course those people are deserving of my scary side..." HA. Good for you for calling them out. Seriously. GOOD FOR YOU. And I STILL think maybe I could move to Provo because cool people like you live there...

Elle said...

Go Girl! The hilarious CJane is back!!

Emily B said...

So back in the day when I thought I would love this place I got a $20.00 groupon for 5 bucks.

It's still sitting untouched and soon to expire. I hate throwing away money but I think this post helped me realize I just have to get over the 5 dollars lost and go somewhere else.

Becki said...

I feel the same about Spark. I have been 5 times, and 4 were very disappointing. So sad that a place like this stays in business while favorites come and go too quickly. Provo is a very strange market that I cannot decipher.

Ian Cropper said...

Hey Jane, Im in Stephanie's ward and Im starting up a restaurant review blog. I hope you dont mind, but I reverted people to this post because A. Im tired of spark and their mediocrity, and B. I wanted to review the place but really didn't want to eat there to do it. So, thank you for doing that for me and sparing me that experience!

Bishop Higgins said...

So often in life we get bogged down in the various bogs and muck and mire of everyday living. And by bogs, I mean sins. And by muck, I mean a lack of faith. And by mire, I mean bogs. This falls into the category of mire (aka, bogs).

What can we learn from eating old chicken? That's really an important question. Another important question is whether or not it's a sin to call some a wiener. Also, I believe the children are the future, and that future will not include Spark.

Janey - UtValleyFoodie said...

Please do more restaurant reviews in Provo! This one was hilarious and so well described!