One of my favorite episodes of Seinfeld involves the gang trying to get a table at a Chinese restaurant.  They put their name on A list and, after being informed a table would open up in “Five, ten minutes”, they proceed to wait – and wait…and wait. At one point, a guy breezes in, walks right past them and, after exchanging pleasantries with the manager, is immediately seated.  This prompts the following exchange –

Jerry: Excuse me… we’ve been waiting here. Now, I KNOW we were ahead of that guy, he just came in.

Bruce: Oh no, Mr. Cohen always here.

Well, pretty much the same thing happened to Akemi and I today at Bar Buca in Toronto.   We arrived a little before noon and the place was hopping.  There was no manager in sight, so we took up position at the front and waited.  About ten to twelve minutes go by when a family walked in – mother, father, and young son. Suddenly, the hitherto M.I.A. manager magically appeared to warmly greet the woman who stepped in front of us to announce her presence.  The manager informed her the wait wouldn’t be long and that a table would open up shortly.  As the family shuffled off to the side, the manager stepped up and informed me it would be a 30 to 40 minute wait.  I couldn’t help but point out that we were there first to which he replied the woman had put her name down first – this despite the fact that he greeted her like a long lost friend he hadn’t seen in ages.  And, no, she couldn’t have called ahead because that would be contrary to the restaurant’s “walk-ins only” policy clearly mentioned on their website.

Rather than argue, we left and I’ve scratched Bar Buca off my go-to list.  I’ll never go back.  At the end of the day, there are dozens of other brunch places in Toronto (and I’ll happily recommend some better ones if you’re ever in town).  Their “favorites to the front of the line” behavior also ensures I’ll never again set foot in their big sister Buca, formerly my go-to place whenever I’d host out of town guests and, up until this morning, my choice for our season 3 cast dinner.

Time to expand my culinary horizons!

20 thoughts on “October 23, 2016: Bar Buca pulls the old “Those people who came in AFTER you were actually here BEFORE you”!

  1. Hi Joe
    That’s horrible. I hope the see this and what they’re going to be missing out on.


  2. Screw them. I hate that sort of crap. Even worse is when they *don’t* appear to know the people and serve them first even though they clearly arrived after you. I don’t even get that.

    They obviously don’t want or need your business (in their mind), so why bother?

  3. Glad you walked out and are spreading the word so others don’t encounter the same.

  4. well done, it’s great to see people taking a stand against bad customer service

  5. :O looking at the list of Rogue Star Award winners, and I see my friend’s name in the Best Short Story section – an I don’t recall her telling me that!! In fairness, she is living at the other end of the country and working very hard. Off to send a congratulatory email.

  6. Glad you walked out. But perhaps next time you should try a different waiting strategy.

    “…so we took up position at the front and waited.”

    Next time you have to wait, casually do so in the most obtrusive, obnoxious, and obstructing way. You want to clog up the comings and goings at the front door, or be in a physical position to hamper their normal system. Lean or lay on their podium. Rifle through their menus or anything in sight. Make them want to seat you quickly. Make them want to get you out of their hair and out of the way. If you get moved to the side, slowly wander back. I mean, come on! If your car breaks down, you don’t move it to the side of the road out of the way. Stop in a lane and block traffic. You’ll get more attention that way. 😆

  7. Good for you Joe. That’s was just poor customer service. If that were me, I’d be somewhere on the internet posting a restaurant review, on their FB page if they have one and Tweeting up a storm.

  8. Ouch, another unsuspecting business falls to Joe’s finely honed sense of justice. And revenge. Heh heh.

  9. Where did you eventually end up eating? Hate that you had such a negative experience.

  10. Definitely like @Kabra’s suggestion. Sorry you had such a terrible time.

    Today we remembered our sweet Maddie girl — 3 years ago today that we had to put her to sleep.

    I changed my “Maddie” album on FB to Public if you guys want to see her. There aren’t many pictures uploaded but I haven’t had time to scan them all in.

    Then there is the blog post on my business page for her: But don’t read it — it will make you cry. Just look through the pictures because there are some more there. Miss that girl so much.

    And some videos:

    Popcorn & Maddie:

    Maddie & the pool:

    Maddie & her noises:

    Maddie & Patrick coming home: (Wait until about 34 seconds in):

    And my best achievement in dog training yet although you hear Jeff & I snipping at each other because Jeff needs his apple pie fix:

    Start with 1 vacuum-sealed container of tennis balls. Take 4 shirts with Jeff’s scent on them. Four same-sized boxes. Identical wrapping paper. The one that has the tennis balls in them–one of the t-shirts of Jeff’s was wrapped around the tennis balls before putting them in the box.

  11. I think you did the right thing Joe.

    As Gary said, If they obviously don’t value your patronage and consider you just as important as that other customer, then why bother.

    Just walk away and realize there are a ton of other restaurants to choose from.. Treat it as you would any relationship no matter if it be personal or professional.

    I know, it stings a little when you invest in, are generous & supportive to those who might seem authentic/sincere at first but then dont actually invest in you right back or worse, begin to treat you like an after thought and falsely believe that somehow you need them more than they need you.

    But take heart
    – Karma has a way of boomeranging on those with this kind of overly egocentric and otherwise self-absorbed attitude.
    Which means they will either eventually learn their lesson
    or their attitude and actions will cause enough folks to walk away until they go under and there is no one left around to save them when they drown.

    In the meantime – just go enjoy Piiano Piano more often and get out there to explore more often till you find a new top fav restaurant that values you as much as you value them and won’t take your kind extremely generous nature for granted.

    I’m fairly sure that no one likes being treated in a disrespectful or inconsiderate manner, as if they dont really matter, or simply are not valued, So Buca probably just lost alot of potential new customers via the many lurkers who read this entry of your experience.

  12. @PBMom Loved that tennis ball gift you made.

    Maddie was definitely adorable and so smart too.
    Thanks for sharing such wonderful memories with us. xo

  13. Damn straight, Joe. I would have done the same exact thing, and in fact, I have, many times. I have a number of restaurants and stores that are on my “black list”, as it were, because of those very same reasons. A couple of them I actually gave a second chance, but most were one and done. Some have been on there for over 10 years and you know what? It feels great to have never stepped foot in those places for so long! It’s refreshing, and a load off my shoulders. I’ll spend my time and money where they still view the customer as something more than just an ATM. Sadly, good customer service is on a steady decline in the world today. Not that customers need to be coddled or catered to like they’re royalty, but to just be treated with common courtesy, consideration, and manners is a lost art it seems.

    How’s Lulu doing with the stitches being out? Are those outfits keeping her from scratching her incision decently enough? How’s her movement? Any improvements?

    -Mike A.

  14. I once had an air duct cleaning guy flake out on two appointments; when I called him on it, he rudely informed me he was the only guy in the valley who did air duct cleaning. Oh really? You may be the only one at that crappy company, but there are a dozen other choices. Fuck off, buddy. And P.S., yes I will complain to your boss. Freaking stoners, man, so not professional.

    So yes, screw places without good customer service, there are plenty of great alternative options.

  15. Nothing is worse than bad service, and to me a long wait just means that when you finally get seated they’ll be out of everything good on the menu anyway.

    I’m obsessed with Westworld and frustrated week by week; when will the mayhem ensue? Cuando? Donde? Meanwhile DM was trending on Netflix this weekend, very cool.

  16. Ooh Bad idea to piss you off. You can do damage. Right on. I’m sure you will find another establishment worth your time and patronage…and taste buds. 🙂

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