O'Charleys started handing out cards at the beginning of the summer that would get stamped with each entree purchase. After a fourth stamp, the card can be redeemed for a free one; the trick is that the card is worthless after August. To increase our count, my brother and I went to the local restaurant a week ago last Saturday. The restaurant wasn't too crowded and we were seated quickly; that was about the only expedient order of business. My beverage remained empty for a majority of the service (it was emptied shortly after our order was placed and not refilled until after our food arrived. Well after our food arrived. My burger, ordered medium-well, had come back blackened beyond edibility and I was hoping for a second drink as well as a meal that wouldn't be mistaken for charcoal. To give you an idea of how long it took for the server to come back, my brother had nearly finished eating by the time I was able to send mine back. At that point I just asked for the replacement in a to-go container as to keep my brother, who had just finished his meal, waiting on my behalf. It took a little while to get the new one, but the manager at least took it off the check. I did a quick check of the meat and it looked passable. Of course, when I got home and didn't have foil blocking the view, the charred mess on the bottom was hard to miss. At least it was free and I did get a stamp out of it.
The story doesn't end there. Hoping to keep a positive O'C experience in mind, we went there again this past Sunday. Different table, different server...all too familiar experience. This time, though, there was a family of four that was seated at a table across from us some 10-15 minutes after we were, same server, whose service we were able to compare to our own. It was a bad sign when my first glass of soda, Diet Mountain Dew as O'C is the only place that has it on their fountain, tasted funny. I had to deal with Diet Pepsi for the remainder of the meal. Not only did our drinks remain empty for the greater portion of the dinner, but two different managers had to step in to fill in the gap left by our server and get our drinks replenished. The table across the way didn't need wait. My burger (a different one, for the record) was once again overcooked to point that it tasted of the grill. It seemed that the flame was set too high as suspected last time. As with last time, it took quite some time to get the server over so we could send it back, him claiming that charred was how medium-well was supposed to look (for the record, you can do well-done without charring the meat). As an added bonus, he didn't bother to notice my drink glass was empty. Several minutes later, a burger came out, but it was the wrong one. It took a while longer for the new one to come out with a manager (second of three that would attend to our table by meal's end) to make sure that it was right. Luckily, it was close enough (more well than I'd like, but I was hungry and my brother had already finished). While I was finishing a third representative of management came by to ask about our experience. She agreed that it sounded like the flame was too high on the grill and that she would talk to the cooks about that. It's nice to know that at least someone there still cares. She also got me a refill as our server was once again scarce.
But even with that, all was still not well. Our server was so busy trying to get us out of the door that he didn't bother to check if we needed anything else when delivering our bill. There were in fact four things needed: 1) I needed a new knife as my first was taken back to the kitchen with my original burger and not replaced, 2) we needed refills (of course), 3) we wanted the check split, and 4) we wanted dessert as we passed last time and, by gum, we were getting our dessert. I'll add a note here that the server didn't give the table across the way their bill until after asking them for a dessert order and refills on their drinks.
We did make it out of there with our desserts (to go) and the last stamp needed for a free entree. We certainly aren't going back again this coming weekend; we'll give them some time to get their act together. It wasn't just the lousy service we got, but the disparity, as the table next to us had a completely different dining experience, brought even more attention to all of the problems we faced. I wasn't compensated this time, either, at least not more than that final stamp, but I did get to have a word with a person in charge who may help turn the place around for the better. If we work up the courage to go back, we'll find out...and at least the entree (provided it's less than $12) will be free.
**Now cut for friends-page friendliness**