It could have been worse. Our family attempted to go out to dinner last night to the Old Spaghetti Factory on Laclede's Landing in St. Louis. There were 7 of us for dinner--my inlaws were in town, plus my SIL and BIL, my husband, Charlotte, and I.
We arrived right around 6:30, and were given a pager and told that it would be about a 20 minute wait. So far, not bad, since that place is notorious for 2-hour waits. They meant every minute of that 20 minute number, but at least there was plenty of room for Charlotte to run around and climb on chairs.
We were seated at a booth that might have held 6 people comfortably if 4 of them were children--with 6 adults, it was a pretty tight squeeze, and then they pulled a highchair up to the end for Charlotte. Eventually, a guy came by, introduced himself as the "assistant server", and poured us water. He asked if we wanted an order of garlic bread as an appetizer, which we answered yes. Several minutes more went by and our actual server came over for a drink order. She repeated our bread order (apparently the first guy hadn't actually placed the order?) , took drink and dinner orders, and walked off.
While we waited for our drinks, Charlotte colored, played, fussed, bounced on my lap, and then went potty (in the restroom). We got back from the bathroom and still had no drinks on the table. Our dinner was supposed to come with regular bread, in addition to the one appetizer order, but we had none of that either. After a total of probably 15 minutes, the server finally brought our drinks (how long does it take to pour drinks?), and eventually the garlic bread arrived, and then salads/soups. We polished off the garlic bread, and most of our drinks, and saw neither hide nor hair of our server. Our "assistant server" was busy bussing tables nearby and would not make eye contact with any of us to come refill drinks or bring us bread.
The food finally arrived, and my MIL needed additional butter with her meal, but there was no one around to ask. She finally got up and found a manager to ask him to have someone come refill our drinks, bring bread, and her butter. Our server never stopped back by to see if we had gotten the right meals, or needed anything (which clearly we did). By the time we finished eating, we had to wait quite a while longer to get our checks (the server did bring those, eventually). I had already speculated outloud that perhaps after a certain amount of time, we should consider our meals free and just leave, since they were clearly in no hurry for their money.
At that point, Charlotte was beyond patient (she's 2, and we'd been seated for like 1.5 hours), so I took her upstairs to run off some energy. She climbed the stairs, giggled at babies, and ran like a madwoman in circles in the restaurant's entryway. After a good long while (another 10-15 minutes), she tripped and fell and popped her balloon dog (that she had refused to let go of), and got very upset. I had no idea where the rest of the family was (we had 3 checks total--one gift certificate, one cash, one credit card...I wouldn't think it would take long to process that), so we went back downstairs in search of family and/or the balloon animal guy. The family was still waiting for their change, and the balloon guy was nowhere to be found.
Dinner took over 2 hours. For a mediocre pasta meal. Processing the checks took upwards of 20 minutes all by itself. There was not a customer comment card to be found anywhere when we left (maybe they got smart and removed them when they realized what a poor job they were doing). Apparently the manager was hard to find as well, since he or she was the hold up on processing the gift certificates. So, the best we could do was leave a bad tip and a half-dismembered balloon dog to show our displeasure.
And, of course, I can blog my complaints and hope it turns up on every Google search for the Spaghetti Factory!!!