My wife and her parents and I were looking forward to our visit to Pomodoro Saturday evening, since the place had been so highly recommended.
We arrived on time for our 6:30 reservation. I went in to give the host our name. He told me they were running late and that it would be twenty-five minutes. I thought, no big deal; these things happen. I used to be in the restaurant biz and I know how it is. The guy asked for my cell phone number and said he would call when our table was ready. I watched him write it down so I know he had it correct.
We had a pleasant half an hour, strolling around the neighborhood and ducking into Café Graffiti for a drink to pass the time.
After thirty minutes with no word, my mother-in-law went to check. She came back shortly and told us that the dude told her that he had called and gotten no answer. I checked my phone—no indication of a missed call.
The guy told my mother-in-law that it would be five or ten minutes, so we paid the check at Café Graffiti and walked the short distance back to Pomodoro. As I was opening door, the guy yelled at me not to go in, that our table wasn’t ready. He was standing on the sidewalk, explaining to other diners about how their table wasn’t ready either.
He was rude. We stood around another five minutes, noticing through the windows that all the seats were filled and that no one looked like they were about to leave. We soon discovered that he had just seated the party whose reservations were for 6:00—ours had been for 6:30—and it was then about 7:15. We tried to talk to him again, to see if we could get a sense of when we actually might have a table, but he cut us off with a lecture—I am not making this up—about how “patience is a virtue.” Well, so is seating customers reasonably close to their reservation time.
We huddled and decided that we should go somewhere else, that even if we got seated we were not going to enjoy dinner with this jerk.
Our problem was, of course, that at 7:30 on a Saturday evening in the North End, the waits for the good places are quite long. Two of us set off to see what we could find. A few blocks to the north, the host at Ristorante Lucia told us that he could seat us in ten to fifteen minutes. We said great, put our name down, and we hoofed it back to get the womenfolk. As we were leaving, the Pomodoro guy came over to us. I told him that we were going somewhere else. He said, “Okay, good.” I’m not kidding.
At no point did he apologize or make any effort to make us feel better. When I was a restaurateur, I always tried to make the customer happy when there was a screwup—and there were screwups. It’s inevitable. But if you’re a smart manager, or even just a decent person, you tell the guest that you’re sorry. Maybe you offer them a glass of wine or something on the house. You certainly don’t give them a lecture about the virtues of patience. Sheesh. What a cretin.