This was my first experience at Ice & Fuel and I doubt that I will go back. A group of us from our neighborhood decided to eat out once a month; a chance to spend a little time together and catch up, while at the same time finding great places in our community that have good food, reasonably priced and sometimes maybe even a great bargain. At our January night out we decided to go to the Ice & Fuel in Kirkwood on February 1, 2006.
It so happened that a coupon for the Ice & Fuel in Kirkwood had come out in a mailer the next day. Even better! We all clipped one and had enough! A coupon to sweeten the deal; buy one entrée or/appetizer and get the second one free. The offer could not be used in combination with another offer but there was nothing obvious regarding limits on coupon use. The other restaurants offered coupons for specific amounts off of the total dollar amount spent.
1) When we got to Ice and Fuel we found three of our group sitting at two tables pulled together-it was cramped. The server said we could not get separate checks and then she told us we could only use one coupon. When I objected based on what I (the group) had interpreted the coupon to mean she said she would have the manager speak to me. She asked if I wanted to order in the meantime (I wish now that I had said “no”).
2) Eventually the manager came out. He pointed out the phrase “other restrictions apply” on the coupon. Frankly, none of us had noticed that “catch all” phrase which enabled the establishment to change the rules to fit the situation. He said he could not possibly list all of the restrictions. When I told him what the other restaurant coupons in that same circular offered he stated that he only began offering coupons in October and was still learning the verbiage. It will be interesting to see if there is a change on the next coupon given the “notes” he was writing on the current coupon. He did not give any other concession, but was very confident that their food was very good and that I would really like the “Fuel Burger”. (What’s in a name?)
3) He did say we could have had separate checks but that the server would have had to add on a gratuity and it was possible that we would not get served at the same time. It wasn’t that busy, so what?
4) I really like a good hamburger; my favorite thing to eat. The “Fuel Burger” was mediocre at best. No flavor. I didn’t find the dill pickle until it was too late. It was buried under the uneaten fries. I did not like the “old freezer” taste of the soft, pale colored fries and left most of them (my first time there and the server didn’t mention the alternative choices which I noticed on the menu after she left).
5) I did not actually see the bill. I was told it was $54.00 and that was after the one $6.00 off coupon! There were six adults. Most everything on the menu is between $6.00 to just under $8.00. My total order before the coupon was $6.00 plus however much coffee was, but my portion still ended up being $9.00. All of our orders were similar. Normally I would not be so resentful but my expectation of the Ice and Fuel was far from met. The server took my order but that was it. She never came near me again (she served the rest of the group); I resent being forced to tip people like that. The manager brought my order and someone else refilled my coffee (but only once and I had to ask). Not to mention the bus boy who asked us to hand him the plates and to hand him the plate of the person we were sitting next to. It may have been some extra time and effort on his part, but he could have picked up everyone’s plate by walking around the table.
6) As for the coupon, it’s the principle; Ice and Fuel don’t put out a coupon that you don’t intend to honor; say what you mean and mean what you say. The coupon is essentially a bate’n switch. Our group represents 6 different households and we all read and understood the coupon the same way. People are lured in and then the rules change. Much to the chagrin of my group, I spoke up but for what? I found the manager condescending; he basically just patted me on the head. I wasn’t expecting high class food or service, or to get something for nothing but [my] service was poor and the food wasn’t that good. I am not hard to please, I am not stupid, I am not “cheap” and I found the whole experience at Ice and Fuel in Kirkwood to be unsatisfactory.
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