The Bar Louie Debacle [Updated Once]

Aug 19 2009 Published by under Archive

I figured at this point I’d have something nice and meaningful to post about, such as the fact that I’ve completed the first two of five days of MBA orientation at UNLV. But Bar Louie has stolen the show, folks. And it wasn’t pretty.

Last night, Laura texted me to meet her and Julia at Bar Louie at 9:30 after I got out of orientation. So I headed on over there and we sauntered on in to the place once they got out of a movie at Rave they were watching.

At first, the hostess wasn’t sure where we would be sitting. She offered a booth and we accepted, but had to back out and ask if a table was ok. Not sure what was up with the whole booth thing. So anyway, we went and sat down at our table. All three of us pretty hungry. I hadn’t eaten since 11:30, so by the time we sat at the table at 9:25, it’d been 10 hours since my last meal. I had a couple of snacks during that time frame, but nothing substitutes for a full meal.

Very soon after we came in, a group of five ladies dressed for a night on the town (or, perhaps, a night at Town Square, which is where Bar Louie is) were seated at a table next to us. A couple was seated at another table on our other side.

Laura, Julia and I had sporadic conversation about various things to spend the time waiting to get our order in. Julia and I checked our iPhones for various reasons. I glanced at the TV a few times because they were talking about the ludicrous return of Brett Favre to the NFL.

Soon we realized it was 9:40 and we’d been sitting at our table for a full 15 minutes with absolutely no communication from any of the staff. We began to get more and more irritated and upset at the ignorance being thrust in our direction. By this time, one waiter had already spent a great deal of time at what we’ll call “the ladies table.”

We were speculating on whether or not we would just leave and go someplace else to eat, which in retrospect would have been a wise choice. Right as Julia and I were about to get up to walk out, Laura wanted to try to stay there since we were there for dollar burger night… A very, very cheap way to eat in Town Square if you’re there on a Tuesday anytime after 5pm.  A buck a burger and then added charges for whatever you put on it beyond the bun, patty and lettuce.

Laura got up and looked around for a server, waiter, bartender… Anybody. She didn’t end up traveling very far, because the waiter that was still at the ladies table had finally gotten up to go do something else. He started walking by ignoring us, but Laura got his attention and let him know that we’d been sitting for 20 minutes without anybody having done something so simple as take our drink order.

Very quickly, a different waiter came by our table, who’d also been working some of the other tables in the vicinity. Interestingly enough, he’d also been to the ladies table a couple of times. According to Julia, both of the two waiters that visited their table had flirted with them the majority of the time they were there. I can’t verify that because I wasn’t close enough to that table, but I 100% believe that. They were there for too long.

So he took our drink order and said he’d be back to take our dollar burger order soon. Laura and I are usually forgiving when it comes to bad service, so long as they appear to be striving for good service, so we both were giving him another shot to redeem himself. Although it didn’t help that we really didn’t get an apology from him when he came by. He said, mostly rushed and pretty quietly, “sorry, I must have not seen you walk in.”

And then we sat some more. For another 15 minutes we waited with just our drinks while our waiter tended to nearly every table but us. All we needed was for him to take the 10 seconds or less it would require to pick up our crayon-marked dollar burger orders. But no. He spent the majority of his time at the ladies table.

Now you might notice that I mentioned a couple being seated to the other side of our table from the ladies table. Well, pretty soon after we got our drinks and started waiting another 15 minutes for our food order to get picked up, the man at that table went up to the hostess and complained about the lack of service as well. I have no idea what he said, but he was obviously complaining, as they had been in Bar Louie a few minutes shorter than us and still hadn’t been seen the first time.

So 15 minutes later our waiter finally picks up our food order and we’re left to await the food. By this point, we’re expecting them to take another hour to prepare and deliver our food for consumption, or something close to that time frame. Really pissed off.

The food actually came quicker than we were expecting. Unfortunately, it was not without an issue. See, there were 2 add-ons in the burger menu that related to blue cheese. One was dressing, the other crumbles. I ordered dressing, which is 25 cents, as opposed to crumbles that were 50 cents. Yeah, they mixed it up. Because of the terrible service we’d had to that point, I did and at the same time, did not want to send it back. Who knows how long that could have taken to fix, let alone what they might have done to my burger in the meantime. Oh well, it was close enough to what I wanted.

We were pretty much ignored the rest of the time we were eating. Our drinks had all expired for quite some time by the time he came by to drop off the bill and asked if we wanted more to drink. By that point, none of us did. We just wanted to pay and get the hell out of there. He did continue to spend inordinately large amounts of time at the ladies table. He also visited the couple seated next to us about as often as he visited us.

The food wasn’t even that great. The burger wasn’t, at least. Since that was the only time I’ve been there, I’ve never had any other food. It might be better. For $1.50, my burger was worth the money, but it wasn’t anywhere near worth how pissed off I got over the whole situation. Average food, I’d dare say a little below the quality I was expecting from a place like that.

Laura and I are by nature good tippers, at least I think we are. We tend to tip in the 18-20% area if the service was good. If there was shaky service, we still tip around 15%. If the service left a lot to be desired, we end up in the 10%-15% area.

Last night, we left a 7% tip. That’s the lowest tip we’ve ever left on a bill. Julia left no tip at all. Laura also complained to the hostess about the issue. Looking back, we should have asked for a manager, because maybe then we would have gotten somewhere, but… What can you do.

I’ve had better service at Buffalo Wild Wings. BW3 is my prime example of a place that I always get bad service at. Well, not necessarily bad service, but severely lacking. We expect it and get it, save for the few times recently where they’ve picked things up a bit. Maybe they’ve noticed a deficiency and are taking steps to correct it. But the service issues at BW3 aren’t so bad that they can’t be overcome.

Bar Louie is completely dead to me. I will never eat there again. I know that many of you have had good experiences there, but maybe boycott them for awhile in my memory. Maybe someone from Bar Louie will contact me and profusely apologize, and actually be able to convince me that they’re sincere. Then we’ll consider them again in the future. But based on our experience last night… Never again. It was the single worst dining experience in my life.

Even worse than the time a waitress constantly reminded my table to tip her. At least she paid attention to us.

[Update]

I’ve gotten in touch with John Polizzi, who left his contact information here on my blog (which was removed in the publicly-posted comment). He’s offered to bring the three of us back in when it’s convenient for us so he can “show us what Bar Louie is all about.” So I’ll keep you all updated as things progress.

13 responses so far

  • Pj Perez says:

    I’ve found that most of the trendy joints at Town Square — including Blue Martini and Yardhouse — aren’t worth the trouble. You guys should have tried Anthony’s, the new coal-fired pizza joint there. We went on Saturday. The pizza is awesome.

    But I guess if you were looking for $1 burgers, you got what you paid for. ;)

  • Anne says:

    Dude…Are you on Yelp? You should post this on there.

  • John says:

    As you probably know, we go to Bar Louie on Thursday nights for Beer n Blog. On those nights they typically assign a waitress to us. So, on those nights, our service has been pretty darn good. But, this past Saturday we went in for lunch with some friends. More than once we found ourselves having to basically hunt down our waitress to order more drinks. I was pretty underwhelmed with the service that day.

    I’ll also say that I have had the $1 burgers and they are definitely NOT the best menu choice. If you are out drinking and just want a quick snack, they’ll do, but I would never go there with the intention of that being my meal. They do have several other menu items that are pretty darn yummy. Not that I expect you’ll ever be back. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t return if I had the same experience my first time there.

    When I hear stories like this it reminds me of an article I read many years ago about a guy who wrote a letter to the head of some national restaurant chain. He explained how he went in to one of their restaurants and received service similar to your experience. The difference being that he left before ordering. In his letter he explained how the company is spending millions of dollars on their advertising efforts to get people in the door, but then once they get them there, they are basically ignoring them. Less money on advertising and more time training staff on how you want your customers to be treated would go a long, long way.

  • Jerry says:

    Hey Robert,
    Glad I read your post here. Laurie & I must have just missed you guys that night (and after reading this, I’m glad we did :)

    We usually grab something to eat after a movie at Rave and have often considered giving Bar Louie a try. Probably won’t now unless we hear a lot of favorable comments. I can vouch for Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza. We ate there the same night you were at BL’s, probably about the same time since we got out of our movie about 9:00. It was the first time we had tried Anthony’s. We loved the pizza and service was good.

  • John Polizzi says:

    Guys I am so sorry that you did not dont get the service you should have……….. You are right we dropped the ball 100%… i would liike to Make it up to you and your guest and show what the true Bar Louie service is……….. [phone number removed for privacy reasons] ……… this is my first blog sorry if it not the way it should be done

  • Julia says:

    mmmm…never going back there. And like you said, I think we should have complained to a manager.

  • Robert says:

    Figured I’d let everybody know that I’m going to give John a call as soon as I get a chance. This being MBA Orientation week hasn’t given me much of an opportunity to do anything outside of work and orientation…

  • Jeff Lloyd says:

    Robert (and everyone else that posted here),

    My name is Jeff Lloyd. I’m the Director of Operations for Bar Louie. I’m actually on a pseudo vacation right now in Hamburg, Germany….but couldn’t help myself from posting an apology.

    Robert, you have my sincere apologies for what happened. There is no excuse. What makes this so frustrating is that Bar Loiue is at heart a neighborhood tavern and grill. We started in the neighborhoods of Chicago where the only way you succeed is if you exceed each guests’ expectation on every visit.

    We failed you on this and I apologize.

    I want you to know that your business is valued. We are working very hard to become a great alternative for some of the other entertainment in Las Vegas and build our niche there as that neighborhood tavern and grill. The only way for us to do that is through great food, great drink, a clean restaurant and great service. That is what you and our other guests deserve.

    I very much hope that you will give us another opportunity to show you true Bar Louie hospitality and come back in as our guest.

    You can reach me via our website or contact John Polizzi at the store.

    Again, my sincere apologies for your poor experience.

    Sincerely,

    Jeff Lloyd

  • Jerry says:

    That seems the right thing to do. As anyone who’s managed/supervised others knows, you can’t be everywhere and see everything that staff are doing. Now that John is aware of the situation, it sounds like he is stepping up and wants to correct things.

  • M says:

    A large group of us go in every Thursday, and the service is always spot on, and I really enjoy the food. I’ve never had the burgers, and I can’t say I’ve ever been on a night that they didn’t expect our large group to be there, so I can’t comment on a different night unfortunately. I’ve recommended Bar Louie to many people based on my Thursday experience, and I hope that every night would be the same. Please do reach out to John. I know he would make every effort to make things right.

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