Monday, September 10, 2012

IHOP Doesn't Hop To - Delivers Cold Food Slowly

 By Ned Barnett (c) 2012
Feel Free to Use with Credit

International House of Pancakes isn't Morton's or Ruth's Chris, but for a 24-hour breakfast short-order operation, I've been a fan for years. However, recently, I've noticed the quality of their service has been sliding, and tonight it came to a head.

I dropped in to the location at 352 North Nellis in Las Vegas (at the corner with Stewart Ave.) about 8 p.m. to grab a quick breakfast - the "Senior Two-Two-Two" (two pancakes, two eggs, two strips of bacon), one of the few items on the breakfast menu that doesn't include too-tasty, too-tempting and too-cholesterol-ish hash browns.  I'd rather not order them than test my will-power.

At 8 p.m. on a week-night, the place is not busy - I had my choice of tables, and the hostess was quick on the draw getting me a beverage.  The waiter took a few minutes, but not excessively so, and I placed my order.  Two eggs, scrambled, two strips of bacon and two pancakes - extra butter, please (yeah, all of it loaded with cholesterol, I know ...).  I opened my book, planned to wait just a few minutes (they weren't busy, remember) and settled back to read.

When I was on my second glass of iced tea, I realized that the meal was taking a lot longer than I'd expected.  After all, how long does it take for a place geared up for this kind of food to scramble a couple of eggs, grill a couple of pancakes, and scoop a couple of strips of bacon out of their holding tray?

At about the time when I was ready to ask where it was, my food arrived.  No extra butter, but that's a small thing, quickly rectified.  Then I dug into my eggs and ... cold.  They'd been sitting around a while.  So I flagged down the waiter, asked for some fresh (hot) eggs, and buttered my pancakes.  One bite and ... cold.  So I flagged the waiter again, told him that apparently everything was cold.  He said he'd get them working right away on a fresh meal.

Perhaps I'm unreasonable (always a possibility, especially after the day I'd had), but I don't think so in this instance.  The hostess - who I presume was the shift manager - knew about the problem, as she was talking to the grill-man when the re-order came in.  It would have been nice for her to come over, apologize, perhaps offer something to make amends.  Instead, nothing.

I sat for a few minutes, and realized that instead of a relaxing late-evening breakfast, I was going to be dealing with my growing anger, not to mention stomach acid and the possibility that the cook might give me a "gift" along with my re-do.  But mostly, I was angry that nobody seemed at all upset that I'd gotten a cold meal at a time when there was no business worth mentioning to justify it.

Rather than "enjoy" a meal I was in no way going to be able to enjoy, I got up, informed the waiter and the shift manager (who were still gossiping with the grill manager at the serving window) that any chance of my enjoying my meal was gone, and so was I.  The shift manager wished me a "nice day," that was it.  No apology, no "can we make this right," nothing but "have a nice day."

Conclusion:  Somebody is asleep at the switch at IHOP.  The facility is immediately adjacent to a 24-hour Denny's Diner, which also serves breakfast 24/7, and it's a half-mile from a Blueberry Hill, another specialize-in-breakfast short order restaurant.  I can only assume that the waiter was the one who'd been asleep at the switch - typically that's the case when food arrives cold.  But the shift manager (who knows me as a "regular" and is always pleasant) isn't running a taught ship, nor is she focused on "making a bad situation right."  With all the choices you have for 24 hour breakfasts - especially in Las Vegas, where all the casinos also have "graveyard shift" breakfast specials, there's not much reason to patronize IHOP.  At least not the one on Nellis at Stewart.

Update:  The manager called today, asked what happened, apologized, asked me to come back for two free meals, and asked that I come when she'll be there as she'd like to meet me (said the shift manager recognized me as a "regular").  We'll see how it goes, but this is a good sign, and a proper response.

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