Monday, June 24, 2013

Retarded Business Practice: A Review of Joe's Crab Shack

Joe's Crab Shack, Riverhead NY - Opened on Thursday, June 20, 2013.

The line on opening day was out the door, as they were offering free crab for a year to the first 150 customers. Tried again on Saturday, but the wait was an hour and 45 minutes. Finally got in this Sunday for lunch with my bro, Tom.

VERY expensive. Two sodas, a cup of NE Clam chowder, two appetizers (crab nachos, mozzarella sticks), malibu shrimp entree, queen crab bucket, and two desserts came to $87, before tax and tip. They have a thing for buckets; bucket for crab shells, bucket for utensils, buckets for food. Portions were decent, even generous, especially desserts. (They make a chocolate s'mores cake with toasted graham crackers, marshmallows, and a melted Hershey Bar that was easily shareable, and incredibly rich, and the slice of Key Lime Pie was easily twice (if not three times) the size of an average dessert slice at any other establishment.

Service was mostly good, our crab nachos came out after a somewhat lengthy delay (AND after our entrees), but Skye was attentive and kept our glasses from being empty, and the glitches can be chalked up to opening weekend snafus.

There was one major glaring problem. Joe's Crab Shack apparently has a "no empty hands" kitchen door policy; there was a kitchen staffer standing by the door, and whenever a server walked towards the kitchen, he would say "you can't come into the kitchen without a dirty dish in your hands," and steer servers away until they had bussed something. One of the servers was our waitress, and as we were seated right next to the kitchen, we ended up volunteering available dishes to any waitress who happened to get turned away.

Hey, I get what the managers were TRYING to accomplish; to get servers into the frame of mind that they should keep the dining room clear of dirty dishes as much as possible. But the problem here is some of the waitresses were trying to put in the orders that they took from customers who had been waiting for seats, and explained that to him, but he wouldn't yield. And some of the customers (like us) had their servers turned away to scavenge for dishes while they were waiting for their food to come out.

I finally turned around and told the staffer "I just want to let you know that if I were waiting for my order and I found out that it was delayed because my waitress couldn't get into the kitchen without a dirty dish, I'd leave, never come back, and make sure that all my friends knew about it.

He assured me that he was just following orders (because that's always worked out throughout world history, right?) and that he disliked the policy himself. I once again told him that if I knew my order hadn't been placed because someone was "following orders" that they knew were stupid and arbitrary, it would create a very big customer service black eye. The next batch of waitresses that approached the kitchen were then told "just go, go," and there was a mini-rush on the kitchen.

Simply ridiculous. If I were a server there, this would not encourage me to clean. It would encourage me to stash a small supply of dirty dishes in a discreet location and only retrieve them when I needed to go into the kitchen.