It’s Monday evening on the north side of Austin TX. I’m sitting at a table on the westside facing patio of The Park, in a fairly nice area of the Domain. As I look around I can see decorated buildings of upscale shopping and eateries along the walkways to bring patrons of all walks of life into the area to enjoy its fruits of tender and appeal. Many Austinite’s frequent The Park as one of their favorite venues to patron for several reasons; A favorite bartender, A friendly bouncer who knows your name, more than 15 large sized televisions to watch your favorite sports or the generous happy hour prices and hours. Most of the patrons, including myself frequent The Park because of its proximity to where we live.
The Park is one of the few places in North Austin where one can eat a decent meal, meet friends and perhaps catch a sports game or tournament. Each of the reasons I listed above makes The Park an attractive venue for many living north of Rundberg Lane. Of course many other patrons come to the Domain and The Park and live south of this imaginary line, however the overwhelming majority of consistent & regular patrons are dwellers of the north.
Now that you have a background of my current location and why I chose The Park to meet a friend for dinner and watch the NBA second round playoff game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder allow me to share my actual experience.
As a casual (2-3 times weekly) patron of The Park, I can comfortable say that most of the bartenders and wait staff are familiar with my presence. I usually order a 12 piece order of wings, an order of Cinnamon Toast Crunch Fired Ice Cream and a tall glass of Coca-Cola… And I always leave a generous 20-30% gratuity along with a huge warm bright smile. Some could argue that I am an ideal patron of The Park and any restaurant, for that matter. And I would agree with that statement too! So why am I taking the time to write this article?
I am writing this article because I have a serious concern about my continued patronage of The Park. Three times in the last 10 days I feel the wait staff has made a conscious attempt to ignore my presence as a customer when I and my friends were sitting at a table in the patio. Today makes it the fourth in 12 days. As I sit here typing this article on my Samsung Vibrant cellular phone, I have been by-passed by two waitresses who have serviced the tables to the right, left and back of me. Twenty-three minutes have passed and finally the one waitress (who was already servicing four tables of patrons across the patio) Caroline came over and took my order. Caroline was already over booked with two large 6+ tops and two three top tables but she noticed the saddened and shattered look on my face as her fellow wait staff team continued to neglect to offer service to a frequent customer in waiting. To add salt to the wound, one waitress who continued to ignore me and not offer service, made three unique trips to the table behind me to share personal chatter about her childhood life and favorite tanning stories as I volleyed to receive service. Was I upset that I was being ignored again for the fourth time in less than two weeks? Of course I was upset. But I realize that people are going to do what they allowed to do within the confines of their social and moral convictions. And this wait person did not seem to feel a single moral need to see if I needed or wanted to order a drink or food to eat because she felt the repercussions for this action was less severe than the effort she would need to execute her job.
I am certain many of you are taking guesses as to why this occurred to me and more than once. I wish I knew why too. I cannot begin to guess why lately, service at The Park has been so lack luster. Perhaps I (unluckily) chose to patron The Park during the days when the wait staff (not bartenders) on the west side patio was having a bad day. I will not try to guess why this seems to be a trending action to me and maybe a few of you as well. What I do know is that this behavior does not represent the position of The Park these wait person work for and quite frankly I do not believe the Management of The Park would support their actions. I have met a manager (Big Man) at The Park and he has always been a welcoming guy with a great tenacity to greet and smile at every customer he sees. I have faith in the fairness of The Park and its wait staff to be the best in the industry. Which is why I sincerely hope the wait staff under Big Man embrace and mimic his social and moral deliverance of service to the customer or I may need to identify another venue to patron for my 12 piece order of buffalo wings, Cinnamon Toast Crunch Fired Ice Cream, Coca-Cola…. and generous 20-30% gratuity.
PS. Thank you Caroline you made my experience a good one. And much love to The Park patio bar tenders, you have been consistently awesome!