OK, so we love The Egg and I locations in our hometown of Las Vegas, so we were delighted to find one across the street from our hotel in Webster, Texas (suburb of Houston). We went in expecting the usual great food and great service, but we were in for a surprise.
We arrived (Friday morning, 11/15/13) and waited for a hostess, who eventually arrived and put our names on the waiting list. We took a seat in the very small lobby opposite the cashier to wait our turn. Diners ahead of us were served ahead of us. So far, so good.
Another diner arrived, solo, and was immediately taken to a table for four. We waited. A party of three arrived and were immediately seated at a table for four. We waited.
Finally another party arrived and were about to be seated when my wife stepped to the cashier, and asked when we would get our turn, as we had signed in some time ago. The reply was, “Who did you talk to?”
Well, nobody there wears name tags, so we had no idea of the person’s name. Besides, to quote Hillary Clinton, “What does it matter.” All you have to do is use the sign-in sheet and people get served in the order they arrived. First come, first served. Simple.
We did get seated next, and soon thereafter met our very personable and capable waiter, John, who did a fine job. We ordered our favorites from the menu at our Las Vegas locations, and waited with high hopes. In the meantime we asked to speak to the manager, so we could make him/her aware of the snafu at reception, and recommend two easy fixes.
We were introduced to a temporary manager, Dianne, on loan from another Houston location, who promised to pass our feedback and suggestions on to the real manager in a few days when she returned.
Our food arrived in due time, and although the menu description was identical to the ones in Vegas, the dishes looked a bit different. The taste was also different, as were the textures. My favorite, the Eggs Ranchero, had familiar looking ingredients, but turned out to be very short on cheese and sauce, and thus had a very dry nature.
I then recalled what Dianne had told us, that Egg & I was a franchise, every location owned by different people. We had assumed it was the same “chain” as in Vegas, but learned that an Egg & I is not necessarily an Egg & I. It’s obvious that the recipes are not identical, the presentations are not identical, the quality of the staff training is certainly not identical, the “systems” are not identical.
In short, Egg & I lacks standardization across locations, you get different experiences depending on who owns the location you pick.
All other franchise companies I frequent (McDonalds, Salt Grass Steakhouse, IHOP, Outback) have standards which they communicate and enforce. That’s how you know you’ll get an equivalent experience anywhere in the country.
The Egg & I locations in Las Vegas are “The Gold Standard” and should be copied throughout the franchise network. The Webster, TX, location has much to learn.
Next trip to Webster, it's back to the IHOP for us.