Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Dark Side of Local

Yesterday, we went to the Phoenix Zoo, which was a good time and perfect for two little ones to burn some energy.  We didn't see everything, which is normal for parents who insist on bringing their kids.
After two hours in the sun, we were hungry, and we headed out to lunch.  While I wasn't able to think of a local place before we left, as we were driving (and detoured, thanks to an event at Tempe Town Lake that I had totally forgotten about), I saw one restaurant that we love - Chompie's.
I turned in, and we went inside to wait for a seat (it was PACKED).  And wait.  And wait.  HRH went "potty" twice.  The girls danced and jumped to the amusement of many.  And we continued to wait.  Finally, we inquired at the hostess desk as to the wait, and we were met with with a rather snotty reply.  Then we watched a party of a similar number, which came in after we did, get seated.  That was it.  We left.  As we did, I asked the same hostess to please take our name off the list.  Her response - "Yes, ma'am," but without any tinge of politeness that one might expect with such words.
Yes, I realize that the place was busy.  I mean hopping - all the tables were full.  But I was, quite honestly, mortified that the local choice I made (and had actually talked up the other day) was such a terrible example of hospitality.
We ended up at a national chain at Tempe Marketplace, where we were greeted with a smile by every staff with whom we came in contact.
While we didn't stick around long enough for me to take the issue up with the manager (after about 45 minutes, we needed to get something in the girls' tummies before a meltdown was imminent), I did send an email to Chompie's, and if I hear nothing by tomorrow, I will be making a call.
I do plan to continue buying local, but it is to be noted that the one good thing about national chain consistency standards is that the standards are generally high (not a hard and fast rule, but generally).  I do hope that Chompie's will make a note of this, as there were clearly other unhappy people in the waiting area, and make some changes.  Until they do, though, I will be avoiding it; there are, after all, several other great local places that will offer their clientele a pleasant experience.
Please note - my intent is not to speak poorly of Chompie's.  However, I think that it's vital for both those large, locally-based companies who urge Arizonans to support them over companies headquartered outside of the state as well as those smaller Arizona-only places such as this one who do the same to ensure that those people whom they court have as fantastic an experience as possible, in a similar manner to the experiences I have had at Run AZ and Wildflower Bread Company.  If my simple (and long-winded) plaint can help local companies, then perhaps I've made a positive out of a negative.

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