When Loyalty Doesn’t Matter

Key West is a funny place. In the winter, tourists abound and restaurants and hotels are making tons of money – always busy and we always need reservations. In the summer, however, you can walk into any restaurant on the island and get a table. It is during the summer that restaurants start offering discounts to locals and are generally pleased that people actually live here. We have been to Ambrosia a hundred times – from their digs on Packer Street to the newer, fancier digs in the Santa Maria Suites, all the while enjoying the Super Atomic Roll with the Pepper’s Black Widow sauce.  Last night I made a reservation at Ambrosia for 8:45 PM, after a movie (we saw Conviction; it was great). We arrived a few minutes early and were told that it would be “just a couple of minutes” despite the open tables for two. After fifteen minutes I thought maybe I should see where we stood. The hostess looked at me dumbfounded “What is your name again?” I was not optimistic. After twenty minutes we were told we could have a high top at the bar (which had been vacated and reset for well over ten minutes) or a lovely table for two in between two parties of eight or more. No thanks. We opt for the high top in the bar, and waited.

Yep, we were still waiting ten minutes later when nobody bothered to acknowledge that we were there. I told the “hostess” (I am using it quotes because she really is useless) and the owner – at the same time –  that we would be leaving because we feel we have been ignored and that they really care more about the one-time tourists than the customers who have supported you all summer long when we were one of three tables taken. The owner’s response? “Oh, I will send someone over now.” Seriously? Are you kidding?

I understand that everyone has off nights. I have off weeks. However, it is all in how you handle the situation. A very simple “Oh, you know we are having a bad night, can we get you a glass of wine while you wait?” Even a simple “Oh, we are sorry,” would go a long way.

The food at Ambrosia is very good. The front of house behavior – especially by an owner – in inexcusable. Sorry, Ambrosia, you are off the list. Fortunately, FKGuy came up with a genius plan to save the Birthday Eve. More on that next week.