We have been to TJ's twice. The place is very inviting as you drive by, enticing you to pull into the too small parking lot. The outside of the building is well kept. There is a large front porch for dining and everything inside is clean, with pleasant lighting.
Both times we have been to TJ's we sat at the bar. You can see over the serving counter into the kitchen from the bar. Because of this view, maybe if we had chosen to sit outside or in the main dining area we would have had a better experience.
The owner, TJ is a tyrant who does most of the cooking, along with a very frightened "chef" and other kitchen help. We could see through the serving window that the guy assisting TJ was so afraid of doing something wrong that he had soaked through his shirt with nervous perspiring. TJ was constantly yelling orders at staff and acting as though the place was packed, even though there weren't 10 customers at that time.
The wait staff, too numerous for a place twice this size, mostly stands around waiting for customers to arrive. The bartender, for some unknown reason, flies around the place with her hair on fire, unable to stay behind the bar because the front room needs waiting on??, even though there are 4 or 5 other girls standing around with nothing to do. So whoever sits at the bar is constantly waiting for service.
The first night we were there, the tense and confused environment, created by the owner, caused us to leave after a few drinks without ordering food...even though what food we saw all looked excellent.
After a month went by we decided to try it again. We again chose the bar, because that is where we like to sit in any place we try...and again we got the same experience.
The first thing we heard was TJ yelling out from the kitchen that they were out of some item, which was their special that night on the appetizer menu. This was at 5PM. There were at least 4 girls standing behind the bar with nothing to do. I would have expected TJ to yell out, "One of you run to the grocery store, (that is less than 5 minutes away) and get whatever we are out of...since it's early and we have plenty of time before the rush and most of you are standing around anyway".
This visit we were determined to forge ahead and try the food, after we first had a few drinks. Having a few drinks first, apparently confused the numerous wait staff because when we told them we only wanted to have a few drinks before eating, they wandered off without taking a drink order at all.
Eventually we got our drinks and then sat and watched the show. The overwhelming impression you get is that you could run this place so much better than it's being run now, even with no experience running a restaurant. You have to suppress the impulse to shout out the obvious. I also wanted to shout out to the assistant cook that he doesn't have to take the treatment he is receiving from the owner.
We did finally place an order for food. Our order arrived in a timely manner and it was excellent. But I don't think we will be back unless we get the urge to sit outside on the front porch and avoid seeing how the place is run.
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