So many issues here for a large, family group of 12:
1) Poor bar service. While waiting to be seated (we were told there would be a 30 minute wait), we waited in the bar area. For over 15 minutes, the bar staff did not make eye contact nor approach us for service. I had to speak across the bar (20 feet or so) and request service. When the staff approached us, there was still very little eye contact and our group felt that the staff really didn't feel comfortable serving its patrons.
2) Fixed, immovable tables. The restaurant has limited space for seating large, vacationing groups (we had 12) since half of its tables seems to be bolted to the floor and immovable. All of these immovable tables were outside where the spectacular Lake Lure views could be enjoyed. We requested seating outside and waited for this seating for over 45 minutes. When we were called to be seated, we were told that we would have to sit at three separate four top tables. The hostess did not let us know this when we checked in; nor did she tell us this when we called earlier in the afternoon to announce our group and ask for reservations for our large group (they don't take reservations for large groups, somewhat odd for a family vacation destination that attracts large groups!). When we expressed displeasure, our only option expressed by the hostess was to go back into the queue for an inside table setup (yes, another 45 minute wait!)
2) Split meals policy. The restaurant charges for splitting meals, but didn't actuallly split the meal--the "policy" is that the patron is responsible for splitting the meal.
3) Group gratuity, but the group didn't dine together. This "policy" was to assign a gratuity (17%) to large groups. This would have been fine if the large group had dined together--since we were not able to sit together (note #1 above with the immovable four top tables) we shouldn't have been assigned a fixed gratuity for large groups.
4) Argumentative manager. One of our group asked to see the manager about these issues and he did visit with us. Astoundingly, he defended his policies and maintained a defensive tone, adding disappointment to the experience.
Our extended family has been visiting the Lake Lure area for the past 10 years during most summers and has had more pleasant experiences at La Strada in the past. We don't intend to visit again, nor recommend any other large group visit.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
July 10, 2013
Our policies are in place for the safety of our guests and staff as well as the efficient operation of our business. After debating policy with the hostess, this guest chose to summon a manager to his table in the middle of the holiday weekend dinner rush with over 200 guests seated to debate policies (this was in the middle of eating his own dinner) He complained that we did not take reservations which, as in many high volume restaurants with multiple table turns, are not accepted because they are not effective. He complained that he had to wait 45 minutes to be seated however, acknowledged himself that it was a holiday weekend after all. (It was the guest's own choice to arrive at 6:30 (peak dinner time) with a large group on a holiday weekend. If he was concerned about a wait, possibly planning an earlier arrival would have been more prudent). We received no other complaints regarding the wait even with groups larger than his own. He then complained about a 'split dinner" charge, and said the entree should have been in separate plates. We don't split individual entrees as it makes for a messy presentation and we cannot guarantee that the components of each dinner (shrimp, scallops, sauce, etc.) will be evenly distributed. We encourage guests who wish to share an individual entree to order an extra salad, soup or appetizer and there will not be a "share" plate charge. The guest did this and because he was not charged a share plate charge, there was no validity in this argument. He was asked if there was anything else that we could do and he said " yes, you can take half off our bill". He was told that couldn't be done, (based on his disagreement with our policies and because he had to wait for a table?).
Report response as inappropriate
The one server who attended to his entire group, and the recipient of the gratuity, was taken out of rotation from receiving other tables so she could provide efficient service. The group was served together. His argument is inaccurate and invalid on this issue as well. It is common restaurant policy to add gratuity on behalf of the server for larger parties and this is clearly stated on the menu. We often have larger groups than his, that are seated together in the same area however, not at the same table, and have never had to argue the gratuity policy. Apparently, the guest in this case was pleased with his service as he left the server more than the 17%.
Apparently, he was also pleased with the food as well, as I'm sure he would have included any displeasure in his review along with his other inaccurate and unreasonable remarks.
Although we strive to make every guest's experience positive and memorable, we know that there will always be those that just cannot be pleased.
You can see from other reviews that our guest's experiences are overwhelmingly positive and this represents just a small fraction of our over 50,000 guests per year. We invite you visit us and decide for yourself!
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.