Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?
These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.
Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...
...seems to be working so far
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Three Free Deserts? Why, Yes, That Will Make Everything All Better
Restaurants are one of those somethings. Spouses would be another, and probably a more important one, but at the risk of divorce, I want to concentrate on restaurants today.
I have been a Piccadilly Pub devotee ever since I settled in town. The chain was devoted to its customers, it's quality of service, and food.
Then, in 2009, the chain was sold to Repechage Investments Ltd., owner of the Elephant & Castle family of pubs. After thirty five years under one ownership, it was sold. John Luvison, the new Brand Manager for Piccadilly Pubs commented, “Repechage is very excited to be expanding its overall operations in Massachusetts from one Elephant & Castle in Boston to now include 13 Piccadilly Pubs. The Piccadilly Pubs chain is known for its friendly staff and New England charm and we intend to build on these qualities.”
Well, Mr. Luvison, ya blew it.
Over the past year, or so the changes at "The Pic" have been small, but consistent. No longer are whole belly clams on the menu, a sign that the chain no longer wants to spend the money on them. Clam strips are now promoted vigorously. Clam strips in New England, may be fine for folks traveling through, but not for those of us that live here. Now the Sea food platters have only two seafood's on them, the daily specials are bland, unimaginative, and as one waitress told me last night, they are being phased out.
In fact, the entire menu is bland, unimaginative, and lifeless.
Last night six of us went to the Piccadilly Pub, and ordered six meals. We waited a very long time to order once our drinks were ordered. No problem. It happens. There was a bunch of help on, but things can happen.
When we did order, the food eventually arrived not as ordered, or as represented in the text of the new menus. Soup was cold, wrong dressings, no salads, and a Fisherman's Combo was like a Happy Meal gone bad with tiny, fried fish bits and scallops. The fish did not have the taste I expected it to have, or the shape.
There was a time when I would accept things, not complain or raise a ruckus. This was not one of those times, and I did complain. My brother-in-law, a chef, went to find the manager. He explained the situation to the manager.
The manager was not impressed.
They fixed the fish by changing it to fish and chips, no scallops though. My brother-in-law opted to not re-order his meal, and eventually the salad arrived for another guest.
The manager came to the table and asked how things were. He did not apologize, or offer to make to better beyond what had been done already. Keep in mind we are once a month patrons for ten years. He did tell us that we should expect off days. A little while later he sent a waitress over to tell us that we could have three deserts for free to make things up to us.
So we paid our check, and headed out. We won't be going back until there are significant changes, but there won't be. In Sturbridge there are as many restaurants as residents. We won't be hard pressed to find a nice place to dine.
I do feel that the company that bought the Pic did so solely as an investment, not to be restaurateurs, either that, or the manager doesn't have the companies best interest in mind. I do understand that anyplace can have an off night, and multiple things can go wrong, and affect the same table.
It could happen. Yeah, it could happen.
What I don't understand is management not being able to pull one iota of customer service out of his pocket. He should have, at the very least, comped the entire check. Period.
Three free deserts. I don't think so.
They had a gold mine in 2009, they don't have anything close to the same thing today.
I am not a restaurant critic, I write about my experiences, and this was one of them. I hope yours will be different. Since I am not a critic I won't advise anyone not to visit "The Pic", you should judge for yourself.
Maybe the stars were just not in their favor last night, and as a result they certainly aren't tonight.
Sources: Repechage Investments Limited, owner of Elephant & Castle, announces acquisition of Piccadilly Pubs by its Massachusetts Pub Group subsidiaries