Here's a fish story involving a restaurant, some relatives and a disappointing meal.
It all started last weekend, when members of my family were getting together for a post-holiday lunch.
"Let's meet in the middle," my brother said. "How about Bonefish Grill? The food is good, and I have a couple of gift cards."
Fine with me. Although I'm not a chain-restaurant fan, Bonefish Grill is one of my favorites. There's a good reason the restaurants are always busy: As my brother says, the food is reliably fresh and delicious.
When we arrived at Bonefish Grill a few minutes before noon, my mother and husband and I were surprised we found a parking place right out front. In fact, the only other car in the lot was my brother's Mini Cooper. Perhaps the restaurant wasn't open yet?
But no, we walked right in, to find a completely empty dining room--except for my brother and sister-in-law, sitting at a table with cranky expressions on their faces.
"What's up?" I asked.
My brother picked up a small slip of paper: the menu. "This is disappointing," he said. "Bonefish is only serving brunch right now. And the choices are . . . weird."
We sat down and took a look. Weird indeed. The menu consisted of a couple of Eggs Benedict varieties, three omelets (one with crab) and a hamburger. Not a fish entre to be found.
Lucky for the restaurant, we were too lazy to find another place to eat. But we weren't happy. Our expectations were clear: We came for the fish. And even when the eggs arrived and they were fine (very good, even), we still had the bad taste of disappointment in our mouths.
Two interesting things: About four groups came in when we were there, sat down at tables, looked at the tiny menu and departed. And our check was substantially less than it would have been if Bonefish Grill had even offered a portion of its regular menu. So brunch seemed like a bad business decision for Bonefish.
Plus, not only did my sister in law (who is a devoted fan of the restaurant) vow to send the company a nasty gram, but I'm writing about the experience now.
Hey, Bonefish Grill, just want to remind you about rule 1 of effective service: Don't make your customers crabby.