Sadly, I'm seeing the writing on the wall for the 13 Moons. This restaurant has a lot of potential to be a shining star in the Skagit County area, but the greed, lack of patience, and/or ignorance at the top of the Food and Beverage department (and more than likely, *their* bosses), are slowly strangling yet another opportunity to provide stellar dining at this establishment.
Our first visit was excellent. However, at the time it was obvious the restaurant was so new that it was just suffering some teething pains. They tried to implement a very nice brunch, and it was excellent. Two months later, they pulled it, I don't know if it was the company line, but our very talented server said it was likely due to lack of interest. Hello - it takes *time* to generate interest in new establishments!
Some of the other little things - They no longer have a separate menu in the "lounge". So basically, you get the dining room menu, with no complimentary basket of bread and dish of oil and basalmic vinegar unless you ask for it. Too bad, the lighter fare and different menu in the lounge may have added complications for the kitchen, but the menu items were wonderful, and the option to have a lighter meal in the lounge area was a great idea. The decision to remove anchovies from the ceasar salad? Seriously? Not only is that sacrilege to serve up a ceasar salad without them, anchovies keep forever. Offer them as an option or on the side. The cost, little to nothing.
The kitchen and wait staff - I don't know what it is about the kitchen and some of the wait staff, but they can't seem to time their way out of a paper bag. Appetizers that take forever, salads and entrees delivered before the appetizers are finished, and with a few outstanding exceptions, an apparent lack of attention by the serving staff to their customers, and a lack of attention to detail in the back of the house. I mean really, I don't know *anyone* that can't tell that a baked potato has been in the warmer *way* too long and should be discarded, not served to a customer paying $36 for a steak. That being said, even though we've noticed a lack of attention by some of the servers, they have all been very friendly, and have done all they could to "make things right". I compliment them on that.
1 - Have some patience. Don't condemn or make changes so quickly. Stick to your plan and let your guests get comfortable with what is available on the menu. Bring back the "expensive brunch". Let the coupon cutters duke it out downstairs at the el-cheapo buffet that is having it's own Identity Crisis.
2 - Train your staff for consistency. Front of the house and back of the house. People are spending a lot of money in this restaurant, and they're coming back because they liked the way things were the last time they were in. Keep consistent hours, menus, and the like. Keep the patio in good shape instead of it looking like it's half set up.
3 - Attention to detail. Make sure the chefs are putting out food that's consistent in quality and recipe, and also make sure they are not putting out anything they wouldn't put in front of their family or that they wouldn't want served to themselves. Make sure when tables are cleared and bussed, that they are also *washed*. Look across the table at an angle to pick up any sticky stuff that may have been missed. Wash the chairs too.
Bottom line, follow these three suggestions and don't be afraid to spend a little money for the first year. The restaurant business is cutthroat, but this diamond in the rough has the chance to be a Star.
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