THE SWISS CHALET INCIDENT

UPDATE: The Swiss Chalet location in question sent me an e-mail the day after my visit and explained what happened:

“I have talked to your server and was informed that our computer system went down for a 15 min period at 240pm.I have confirmed this with our IT department .In saying this we had a few bills that did not make it to our kitchen.I have coached our server on identifying this sooner in order to prevent any wait times for our guests.”

Furthermore, they will allow me to return and have a meal on their dime, which I thought was quite nice of them. I’m not sure when I’ll take them up on the offer but I’m glad they tried to make it right.

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Part of the beauty of not having a job or anywhere to be on any given day is that you can decide to do whatever you want at the drop of the hat. When I woke up this morning well past noon, I decided I was gonna have lunch at Swiss Chalet. Now I love Swiss Chalet, I’ve enjoyed their food since I was child and continue to lap up that sweet and delicious dipping sauce that seems to divide this great nation.

Now because I’m lazy, I didn’t actually get to the restaurant until well after 2pm. The lunch rush was a distant memory and when I got there I saw only three or four tables with patrons at them. I ordered a very simple meal, a beverage and a quarter chicken dinner. That’s probably the stereotypical Swiss Chalet signature item, the quarter chicken dinner and something to drink.

My first indication that this lunch was going to suck was the fact I waited at least ten minutes before I noticed I still hadn’t received my cup of tea yet. My waitress had taken my order ten minutes ago and in the meantime, I was watching her seat a family of three across from me. I watched her hand out the menus and talk to the family for a bit. To my surprise, like a minute later, she comes over to the family’s table and with a whole tray of drinks. Maybe my drink was on that tray too? Nope, nothing is left on the tray and I get to watch that family quench their thirst.

Now I’m getting ready to waive down my waitress when I see her at the bar next to the point of sale terminal looking at a small slip of paper. She starts punching stuff into the terminal really quickly and then runs off into the kitchen. I can see her grab a mug, a teabag, and a “hot” water container. She comes over to my table says sorry and drops off all that crap. I discover the “hot” water she gave me to steep my tea was actually a degree above room temperature. If this was the UK I would have been in my entire right to have the restaurant shut down. Unfortunately, I’d already put the tea bag into this ice bath. Ugh.

Well, at least I had my iced tea and I was hoping my food would follow quickly at least. Nope. I watched as the family of three got their food about five minutes after my tea arrived. It was pretty cool watching them eat their meals even though I ordered more than ten minutes before they did. I must have looked pissed because my waitress came over and said my meal was coming right up. That was a lie.

I waited another 25 minutes for my food to come. In total, from the time I ordered to the time a plate of chicken was put in front of my fat face was 35 minutes. A wait of 35 minutes in a nearly empty restaurant. My waitress also never returned once to see if I wanted more ice water for my tea nor did she return to see if I required anything else.

The only redeeming part of this whole service disaster was the food was as good as I expected from Swiss Chalet. When I got the bill, I got proof that my waitress took my order verbally but did not enter it into the system until 20 minutes later. The bill had a time stamp that was 20 minutes after she left my table with my order. I know this because I went straight to my cell phone after she left and I remember the time. The gap between that time and the time stamp on the bill was 20 minutes. Like how do you screw that up so badly? I was the only table at that point who was ordering! The rest of the restaurant had already been served and was eating. My order was literally the only she had to input.

Here’s the real kicker, I still tipped her a dollar on a $12 meal. I would have felt completely justified in tipping exactly zero cents but I still gave her a dollar. As I type this I’m not even sure why I did that. It seems pretty silly now.

Anyways, I took the bill because the fine folks at Cara Operations, who owns Swiss Chalet, puts a web site on each bill where you can provide feedback. You bet your sweet ass that I provided feedback when I got home. While I was polite and did not use cuss words like poop, I made it very clear that my experience at the Swiss Chalet on 3860 Lougheed Highway sucked balls. Surprisingly, I got an e-mail reply back within two hours. Apparently, my feedback will be forwarded to the right team and someone from Cara Operations will attempt to send me a cold cup of tea to my home in one or two business days.

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