I swore I wasn’t going to do this. I promised myself that I would try to be reasonable and calm. But every once in a while, I am driven to action. I become recklessly angry and unfortunately, the chips sometimes fall where they may.
I went out with a bunch of my coworkers last night. We have been having a rough week at the hotel and needed some beverages. There were around 15 of us. One of my friends said that he wanted to go to Midtown.
I will state a disclaimer right now that this review may be biased because, to be honest, I have never been a huge fan of the place. I feel like it’s very collegy and if you’re past your college years, for the most part, you avoid the bars frequented by drunk underage students like the proverbial plague. I would rather spend more money at a classier bar and get service like my hard earned dollars actually matter to the place.
All that being said, I can say with conviction that I have not, in recent memory, been treated so poorly by any establishment in Charleston. The female bartender actually gave myself and my friends an attitude when we asked her for drinks at the beginning of the night. That’s right, the beginning of the night. As in, we weren’t drunk, belligerent, loud, obnoxious, etc. We work in customer service, of course we know to be friendly to people in public, regardless of the situation. In my opinion, it would be in her best interest to at least be cordial to those of us that have the ability to pay her rent. This is how the conversation went:
Me: Hey, how are you?
Bartender: (blank stare) What can I get for you?
Me: Vodka tonic with lime, please.
Not the most polite person I’ve ever encountered but whatever, maybe she was having a bad night. I don’t know her life.
I took my drink back to the table and glanced over at the bar. She was actually laughing and buying shots for what looked to be her friends at the bar. The second one of my friends went up to order a drink, I noticed the bartender actually roll her eyes at her friends. Honey, I’ve got news for you: your entire job is dependent upon people asking you for drinks and then you making them. It’s not rocket science. You can do it without an attitude if you expect a tip.
Amidst all this, we managed to taste our drinks. My friends and I looked at one another and shook our heads. I swear, there must have been an eyedropper full of alcohol per drink. I figured “Ok that’s fine, I guess I just have to order a double next time.” So I did. She poured it into the same glass (which is kind of a faux pas as far as I’m concerned. If you’re going to make me pay double, at least give me a double and put it in a larger glass.) and put the exact same amount of alcohol into it. Then she practically sneered at me: “That’ll be $10.”
I have no problem paying $10 for a drink. I actually do it regularly when I go to places like The Gin Joint or The Belmont. However, I feel like I get my money’s worth because I’m getting a delicious, artisan cocktail in return. This was less than an ounce of alcohol served in a clear dixie cup garnished with a lime. If I had paid $5 for this drink I would have not been happy about it but I would have kept my mouth shut, finished it, and left. I paid her and begrudgingly left her $2 as a tip and went back to my seat rather angrily. Why was I so mad about it? I kept pondering the situation until I had come to a conclusion: I was so pissed because of the bartender’s attitude. Yes, I would have been not super pleased if I got a weak drink regardless but if she had been sweet and nice about it then I would have probably just said “Honey, would you mind topping me off a bit?” and snuck her a few extra dollars. But I could not just sit by when our entire group was being treated like we had done something wrong.
I went up to the bar with my drink about halfway gone and saw what appeared to be a manager. I wish I had gotten his name because this was really the icing on the cake. I smiled at him and asked if I could talk with him for a minute. He said “absolutely, what can I do for you?”
At least I can say that this started off pleasant.
Me: “What do you typically charge for doubles? As in a double vodka tonic.”
Me: “Don’t you think that’s a little high? I mean, I just got a double in this glass.” As I said this, I held up my plastic dixie cup.
Manager: “Well, I don’t know what to tell you. I don’t make the prices. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to drink here.”
Umm, what? If you don’t like it, you don’t have to drink here. I thought people only said that in movies to Drunk Patrons angling for more booze at 2 am.
Me: “Well you want to know what? I won’t. You just lost my business. We’re leaving.”
I promptly walked back to the table and told everyone what just happened. My one friend said “Wait, why are we still here? Let’s go.” So we did. All 15 of us. In summation, they lost the potential to make hundreds of dollars off myself and my friends on a dead Sunday night. We could have made that bartender’s night. We had money to burn and wanted to stay out and, potentially, drink copious amounts of alcohol. The fact that they would rather lose money than their pride is an absolutely baffling business decision.
What kills me is that this probably won’t even affect them at all. My writing about my horrid experience there is a spit in the ocean of their business of ripping off college kids. Nothing that I say on here will be read by anyone in their management and they will continue to squeak by with crappy service and an environment that inexplicably attracts hundreds of students (and their parents’ money) every single weekend. I can honestly say that I see no reason to ever return to a place that so brazenly values quantity over quality. My money is much better spent down the street at any other place on Upper King, where I will, most likely, get what I pay for.