C-Flo Tackles Earls.67

My wife and I decided to try the new concept known as Earls.67. I used to work for Earls, including at the original Bankers Hall location in this same spot. I used to train the servers, so I thought I’d see how things have changed (because they always do).

When we walked in, there was no one at the hostess stand, so we wandered around for a while and sat ourselves in the lounge. I later noticed that there were at least three hostesses on duty, they had just been busy chatting and giggling off to the side.

We sat there not feeling noticed, as tons of employees whizzed by. It was only a few minutes, but Earls used to train servers to greet every table within a minute. Maybe I’m too old school? A random server came by and asked if we’d been helped. She said she’d grab us our server and some waters. She never brought the waters, but since we hadn’t asked for them it wasn’t a big deal.

I found the whole experience of Earls.67 to be jarring. I think that’s the best word to describe it, and it’s the last word that should be used to describe a night out at a nice restaurant. It was great that a random server came up to check on us, but there has to be a system in place to avoid guests being missed.

Even the lighting is jarring. There is too much cool white light, when it should be warm tones. If you think I’m being ridiculous, imagine if you went to a nightclub and the dance floor was lit by bright white fluorescent tubes. It doesn’t exactly set the mood.

Our server eventually showed up and seemed distracted all night. I don’t think she’s really cut out to be a server. She was nice enough, I guess, but wasn’t attentive and would fly away from the table as quickly as she could. Every course of food or drinks we ordered was brought by a different server, which was again jarring. My wife’s latte was cold, too. Lattes should never come out cold, that’s just bizarre.

The calamari was very good, but had too much garlic. I don’t think I’ve ever said anything had too much garlic before, I love garlic. But in this case it obliterated my palate. The dynamite rolls were flawless though, I could eat those all day, every day. Great job on those, highly recommended!

At the end of the night we waited forever to get our bill. We took turns killing time by using the washrooms, but eventually I just stood beside the table with my jacket on. When that didn’t work I wandered around to try to find our server. When we finally got her, she awkwardly tried to make small talk after not engaging us in a similar way at any other point in the night. Again, she’s not really cut out for this profession. Most of the servers felt really cold, in fact. We saw about a half dozen of them throughout the night, and only one of them had a genuine smile.

Why was our server nowhere to be found most of the night? If she doesn’t even need to monitor or run any of our orders, what is she doing?

I will say the manager was great. He came over twice to see how we were doing. I appreciate managers who try to watch what’s happening in the trenches, instead of just feeling important.

I wouldn’t go back to Earls.67. I hope they don’t try to make all Earls locations into this. I sincerely appreciate trying something new, but it didn’t work for me. Mandatory tipping did seem to kill the incentive of caring and giving good service, as it should in theory. The music was way too loud and the ambiance was extremely disappointing. The experience was repeatedly jarring from every angle and it appeared to be a definite step down from the old Earls Bankers Hall back in the day. I’ll still frequent Earls, primarily the one in Kelowna, mostly because of the amazing patio overlooking the harbour.

Theories, concepts, renovations and mission statements are all great on paper. But in the end there’s no substitute for hiring caring, hard-working people and training them properly. In restaurant parlance, Earls.67 should be eighty-sixed.

For my thoughts on tipping, click here: http://powertackler.com/index.php/2016/08/07/tipping/


C-Flo Tackles Tipping

“Ever notice that former restaurant workers tend to be generous tippers?”

–Jacqueline Burt

I often hear people, especially older generations, complain about tipping. It’s too much extra money, it’s unnecessary, the wine was overpriced (seriously). So let’s talk this out.

If you ever complain about tipping being expensive, don’t expect any sympathy from me.

Look, if you’re going out in a part of the world where tipping is customary, prepare to pony up. Going out is expensive. The cost of libations and nosh has increased at a much faster rate than wages have. This is the reality. Whining about normal tipping percentages, or ludicrous margins on alcohol, is stupid. There are tons of options available. Vote with your feet. And if you live somewhere without a ton of options, why do you live there? You must love it there and not care about restaurant variety, or you wouldn’t have taken pride in your slower pace, and getting away from it all, and being off the grid. Right? Otherwise, vote with your U-Haul.

When it comes to tipping: This is the cost of going out. By bringing in a large party, you take up all or most of a server’s time, and large groups are notorious for undertipping or underestimating what each person owes. Automatic 15-18%+ gratuities on large parties are necessary to combat the selfish and the cheap. Think about how and why the system works, rather than trying to slip through the cracks unnoticed.

Additionally, servers tip out to the bartenders, waitresses, doormen, bussers, and kitchen. These tip outs are usually based on sales, not tips, as they should be. To illustrate what this means, if a server were to not be tipped on their only table, a large party, they would still tip out. This would come out of their minimum wage, and they would have worked that shift for an illegal wage, or in some cases, nothing. It’s all about incentivizing good service.

If we moved to a non-tipping system, food, drink and especially alcohol would see increased prices to pay for the increased wages. Furthermore, there would be no incentive to give good service, as a quick stop by a typical crack staff of motivated non-commission individuals can show you.

I’m not in the gastronomical service industry anymore. But I think it’s important to have perspective and look into why things are done, instead of resorting to knee-jerk solipsistic victim complexes. Grow up and stop being cheap if you’re going to go out in public. I haven’t eaten Kraft Dinner since 1984, so there’s plenty left for you to buy.