We have eaten at the Herr Tavern about 4-6 times a year since we moved to the area in 2000. We have always had a good experience until 8/31/05. My wife and I had reservations and looked forward to a great evening (like usual). We were going to buy a gift certificate for our son and daughter-in-law for their anniversary. We were to be very disappointed. It took a while (5 minutes or so) for a waitress to see us, although we did get water fairly promptly. Unfortunately, that was the last time the water glasses were filled without asking...and for the last 20 minutes or so we were there, they were not filled even though we asked. The food was fabulous--even better than usual...but our service was poor. The biggest problem was the inattention of the wait staff. Besides the empty water glass, there was the emplty wine glass...and no one checking to see if either needed refreshing (not to mention that I had asked that the water glass be filled.) Perhaps our waitress was too busy elsewhere...but then we should not have been given a reservation. She asked if our main course was OK and that was the last we saw her until we were done (even though I asked for water). We even had to wait a while after we were done our main courses for the waitress to come and see if we needed anything else. All this waiting and the associated inattention disappointed us greatly, and, to make the point, I left a paltry tip (I usually do 20-25%). We did not try to purchase a gift certificate. I had intended to write a letter to the owners the next day to voice my concerns. I was surprised, but happy to see that someone (not our waitress) had called and left a message at my office after we left. I thought- "good, I can tell him what happened and save the trouble of writing a letter." His message said that the poor tip was noticed and that he wanted to know if we always tip this way or if this was reflective of the service. He said that this was important to him and the business. I called him right away, and was in for a shock. After I told him of our poor service and our normal tipping habits, he proceeded to tell me that he had checked, and the food was served promptly, and that he had no other complaints that evening...and other customers had left good tips. He further informed me that I should have complained while we were there. I tried to tell him what had happened (and not happened) and he kept lecturing me on how he thought I should have handled it. I suppose I should have got up and hunted around the restaurant for someone to complain to in the middle of my meal when I wanted some more wine and water. I told him I would have written a letter, but was doing him the courtesy of returning his call...and he kept defending himself and the service. I suppose that, in his book, serving the food promptly is deserving of a 20%+ tip regardless of what else happens, or doesn't. He said he apologized, but kept defending and arguing just the same. I told him that I was responding to his call, but that I did not want to argue, and I hung up.
One time bad service would normally, in my case, result in a comment to management to help them improve their business. Bad service plus a manager calling me to defend it results in a public review.
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