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Food

LAist's Bottom of the Barrel: Vapid Hostess Who Should Get Fired Edition

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We've all had negative experiences in various types of businesses that were horrendous to the point of putting us in a unique brand of foul and livid mood. This temperament then requires mustering every ounce of restraint to stop ourselves from spreading the bad mojo around. However, perspective makes us understand that these types of service snafus hardly rank high among greater injustices in the world, but they leave us in need of somewhere to turn and vent. LAist has mentioned such episodes in previous posts.

In this installment of LAist's Bottom of the Barrel, we’re pleased to provide this service to a reader who sent in the following story of having been very wronged by someone who should really find a way to make a living other than hostessing at Axe in Venice.

I have had over 15 years of experience with Los Angeles' restaurants. I have eaten at holes in the wall, and I have dined at the chic chic frou frou swanky joints. I have had great service. I have had bad service. But I have never, ever had as bad a service experience I had at Axe on Abbot Kinney this past Friday.

Friday night, we were all set to have dinner at Axe. Which, while it looks like it's pronounced like the tool you use to chop wood, actually is pronounced so that it rhymes with sashay. Kinda.

Now, I've heard of bad experiences at Axe before. A friend once made a birthday party reservation for 10 there at 7. She was told that they would need the table by 8:30, which she said was fine. The only problem was that they did not deliver my friend's group their entrees until 8:10.

But I figured, surely, this must be hyperbole.

Guess what? Not hyperbole.

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We had made a reservation on Wednesday. They called us on Friday. We called them back to confirm. We were all set. The reservation was for 7:30. We had asked for seats in the back patio area -- which is a beautiful part of the restaurant, unlike the inside area which suffers from minimalist sterility (read: uncomfortable chairs) and they told us that they couldn't reserve specifically for a specific area, but they'd see what we could do.

I then arrived at 7:20. There were two hostesses there. A short woman with glasses, and a tall woman with a glassy look to her eyes. I check in with Short Hostess.

As I'm the first to arrive, she suggests I sit to the side and I can order a drink or whatever while I wait for my dining partner Wendy (names changed to protect the egregiously mistreated by a culinary establishment) to arrive (the res is in Wendy's name). I ask if we can get a table in the back patio; she says that'll be no problem. I sit, wait, chat with a nice guy who works there named Dan, mustache and glasses. If you go to Axe, pray that he's your server, because he's probably singlehandedly propping that restaurant up from falling into a canyon of bad karma.

My friend Wendy gets there by 7:40, 7:45. Not a big deal. Not egregious tardiness by any stretch of the imagination. Now, mind you: there are empty tables in the restaurant. As well as several seats at the very uncomfortable looking counter.

I tell the Tall Hostess that we're all set. She blinks, with her mouth open. This is a woman who looks like she has followed the "Repeat if necessary" instructions on her shampoo bottle a few too many times, washing away about 15-20 IQ points in the process.

"What's your name again?" I tell her we're under Wendy's name. She walks over, squints at her book, and comes back. And with the worst attitude of anyone I've met in the service industry:

"We've got a situation."

Uh oh. "What kind of situation?"

"You hadn't checked in with me, so I erased your name from the book."

Wait a second. I point to the short hostess. "But I checked in. With her."

Short Hostess at this point comes up to us. "They checked in with me. They've been waiting."

Tall Hostess looks like she can't understand this. Displaying all the intellectual acumen of a supporting character on Saved By the Bell: The College Years, she turns to me. "Look, I don't know what I can tell you. It's a mistake, it happened, but we erased your name from the book."

Her attitude smacks of a "Shit happens, just deal with it" quality.

Me: "Well, then how long do we have to wait for a table in the back?"

Tall Hostess: "An hour."

Me: "So what are our options?"

Tall Hostess: "You can sit at the counter."

Keep in mind, there are THREE EMPTY TABLES IN THE REST OF THE RESTAURANT.

I point this out. The woman blinks, amazed that I am so inconveniencing her.

Wendy then points out that we had CONFIRMED the reservation that afternoon and I had CHECKED IN at the restaurant. Tall Hostess just blinks.

Tall Hostess: "AlL I can offer you is the counter." I point out that it's a Friday night, we made a reservation, we're not going to be able to find another place to eat. She continues with her entire "Shit happens" attitude.

"Look, I don't know what I can tell you," she says. Because it somehow must be our fault that she erased our name ten minutes after I checked in, after we had called to confirm the reservation earlier that day, when she wasn't offering us the empty tables.

This might also be a good part, in case you were wondering, to say that we didn't walk in wearing Birkenstocks and cut-offs. So no, that wasn't the reason that Tall Hostess was acting like an enormous jackass.

This wasn't a situation just of incompetence. Incompetence, we'd be willing to sit at the counter with the incredibly uncomfortable chairs and get free wine. If the Tall Hostess was merely incompetent, but at least sweet and trying to make amends, we'd pity her and feel affection for her, like a baby panda at the zoo.

But she wasn't apologetic. Or, if she was, they had all the earnest sincerity of a McSweenys book party.

This was incompetence making a deadly intersection with hostility. No way we were going to give Axe any of our money that night. So we sashayed out of Axe. We were sad we didn't get their bread pudding, but really, was bland pork loin that crucial to our happiness?

The happy ending to this story is that the good people at Joe's fit us in and we had a lovely night there.

I'll never go to Axe again. But I can't imagine the manager and owner wants someone like Tall Hostess alienating further customers. It's one thing to have incompetent employees, but hostile ones?

I posted this all on Chowhound, but someone took it down -- apparently, as seen in the Cynthia's situation of a few months ago, Chowhound doesn't let people post about service experiences, which seems nuts to me.

When people go out on a Friday night, they don't want their reservations erased after they check in, and they don't want to be told shit happens. In the service industry, when shit happens, you clean it up and make the customer happy.

At least at Cynthia's, you get some inspired lunacy to share with people.

And Tall Hostess: one more thing. I hope you get fired.

I hope you are stuck working at the Olive Garden in Marina Del Rey, or some awful Sunset Strip restaurant with horrible food, where you accidentally go home with one of your medallion-wearing customers one night and he gives you a wicked case of the clap.