Friday, August 08, 2014

Even in the Best Basket You May Find a Rotten Apple

Here is another article put in the middle of the every other week schedule - as it is a bit out of the ordinary. You will be reading an article in a few weeks about another previous to this dinner at Shady Maple in East Earle, Lancaster, PA, but this is about a more recent dinner there. And something happened that has never happened to me there before and I hope to think rarely if ever to anyone there.

We went on a Saturday night in late July for dinner at Shady Maple - just search this site to see all about this exceptional buffet. It is always crowded on Saturday nights in the summer and I often avoid that night because of the tourists, the bus trippers, and the chaos of those overwhelmed by the expanse of this buffet. It was crowded. We waited on line to get in and again waited for a table. We were seated and the tourists were everywhere in mass. But it was not the tourists that this article is about - it is about an employee. One such, that shocked the heck out of me!

Here is what happened. When we finished soup and then salad, I went up to start on entrees. There was New York Strip Steak being grilled at two grill stations. I went to one of those grills and there was an older man and woman behind the grill. I asked for a rare New York Strip Steak. The man had a scowl on his face for whatever reason and looked at the woman with him behind the counter and pointed at a steak for her to take off the grill and serve to me. She took my empty plate from me and placed this steak on the plate and as her and and mine were on the plate I saw that the steak looked on the outside to be very red and raw looking. I made a comment to her that the steak looked more raw than rare. Now, I have to add here that this has happened to me at Shady Maple before. The a rare steak will often be raw inside and I was trying to avoid that before I took it and got back to the able - now you may wonder, why not just ask for medium rare and I have done that but medium rare often comes off the grill more than well done. So here we are - both hands on the plate and I make the comment.

What happens next shocked both the woman and me. The man reaches over and yanks the steak off the plate with his bare hands, (no gloves) and using both bare hands rips the steak in half shoves it up to my face (on his side of the grill) and angrily says, "Raw! It is not even rare!" He then throws the steak back onto the plate and looks at her to hand it to me. She handed it to me as he grumbled angrily under his breath. I was so taken back and in shock, I took the plate and I just stood there - still surprised, I looked at him and I said, "Be polite!" It is not in my nature, especially here, to make trouble and I certainly was not going to cause a scene - "Be polite" got my point across - though I doubt he saw any point but his - but my point was this is not a way to treat a customer. Now, I did not call for a manager and I just went back to my table with the steak - still in shock. I explained to my wife what just went on because she could not understand why I looked the way I did. Her first comment was - "He touched it with no gloves - that is illegal!" Well I don't think he is supposed to ever touch the meat once it is cooked with anything but the tongs or spatula and it is perhaps legal to cook with gloves on, but the point was how he acted. I thought to myself - he touched this steak with his bare hands, perhaps I should not even eat it - I did eat it. This spoiled the dinner and if I did not know what my experiences have been with the employees here for so many, many years, it could have kept me from ever coming back to what has been the BEST buffet anywhere. I still cannot believe this happened.

Perhaps he was as overwhelmed with the tourists here this night as I was. I passed him several times after that and he continued to have the same sour scowl on his face. Perhaps this was a bad night for him - maybe there was bad news of some sought - but why am I coming up with excuses for this employee's actions. They are inexcusable - in fact grounds for dismissal. The old maxim - "the customer is always right" may not be really true but if you want to keep customers you treat them properly and no matter how much of a pain in the butt they may be, you treat them with respect.

Now what could he have done - he could have taken the steak, put it down and with a knife, cut it open and shown me what it looked like inside - not essentially this with ripping it apart with his hands and literally throwing it back across to the other employee onto the plate. He could have said - fine, take it back and select another steak. As it happens I passed the other grill later in the meal and there was someone that was asking the same thing about how done a steak was and the young man employee behind the grill picked up a steak with a fork, cut it open and showed it to her and asked if that one would be alright. I really still am in shock. I thought about this the two hundred mile drive home.

Will I go back? Absolutely! Let's just put this up to a one time thing. Hopefully the owner of Shady Maple Smorgasbord will read this and have a meeting with his employees about how to treat customers - he seems to be a reasonable man and a good businessman. He knows what is right and what not to do when it comes to his customers.  I had to share this. This was so over the top that I could not share it with all of you.

Now back to our every other week schedule and there will be the next article next week.


Anonymous said...

It is so sad, but it seems that many restaurants are going down hill in many areas.

songbird's crazy world said...

I know you were in shock, but I would have been complaining to a manager.

Writer said...

It was a strange night. The tourists were making me crazy and we were just dining there. I have to figure that this man just had all that he could tolerate and I was the one who triggered a night of pent up frustration with customers. And I was just so taken with surprise. I also maintain a very low profile in buffet restaurants - even as just another customer.

We were back a few nights ago on Friday and I did not see this same gentleman working. It was a typical good night at Shady Maple.