Give me the Lunch Special!

It’s nothing major, but it just changes a pleasant experience to a mildly unpleasant one.

Red Lobster has several lunch specials for $7.99. The one I like is the Bar Harbor Salad, with chicken. You get a goodly portion of chicken and assorted salad toppings (nuts, dried blueberries & cranberries, blue cheese, tomatoes) and lettuce. There is a dinner size to this, with more of everything, and it is $9.99 (I think.). I usually go to Red Lobster once a week for either the salad or blackened catfish, and I’ve been going there for quite some time.

At some point early on, I realized that I was being charged more than the lunch special price and I asked about it. That is when I found that there was a lunch & dinner price. So, I almost always make a point that I want the “lunch” special. That’s what I did today.

I entered the parking lot and noted that there were many more empty spaces than usual. I walked inside and there were hardly any customers. The hostess, whom I know by sight, but not by name came up and sat me up front. I sat there a few minutes and a soldier walked by and was seated in the corner booth. I waited a little longer, but it dawned on me that someone should have come to my table already so I pulled out my phone and started the timer. It took about another 2 minutes until my waitress came to the table. She asked what I wanted to drink and I said, “water.” Would I like lemon. I hesitated but said, “no.” She hurried away. *I could have ordered if I had stopped her.

About a minute and a half later she returned with my water, and a slice of lemon in it. *No problem. I think I really wanted lemon, even though I said no lemon. She also brought a basket with four biscuits. I don’t think these come out until after the meal is ordered, at least that seems to be the routine I am normally use to. I ordered the Bar Harbor Salad, the Lunch Special, even tapping the placard with my finger as I pointed to the $7.99 special. I asked for oil and vinegar dressing, and a small bowl with yellow mustard. She nodded in understanding and left the table.

I pulled out several packets of sweetner and made lemonade. I don’t recall exactly when the waitress asked, but she asked if I wanted the blue cheese crumbles, to which I replied in the affirmative… and said the dried fruit and nuts also. The soldier started to wave and his lunch date walked past my booth and they stood to greet one another.

The waitress brought my salad, with the vinegar and oil dressing. It was a large, well made salad with plenty of nuts, fruit, cheese crumbles and croutons. I caught her before she left and asked for the yellow mustard. I waited, but devoured most of the croutons before she returned shortly. She returned with a small bowl filled with yellow mustard.

I dipped out most of the mustard and put it on one edge of my salad. I then poured in some vinegar and some oil and added sweetner from a couple of packets, mixed it up and poured it over the chicken and salad items. I did this again to make sure I had enough dressing, and started to eat. The food was good, but I realized that this was too much salad to finish and still adhere to my current mantra, “Eat Less.” I picked out many of the dried fruit, and the nuts and cheese and most of the salad tomatoes. I finished the chicken. I was thinking that she had been so generous with the salad that I would tip her $3. *Maybe not a lot for some, but I normally leave about a two dollars tip.

The waitress brought me my bill and left. I fished out my credit card and looked at the bill. I immediately saw that the total price was over $10. I looked up and saw that the charge for the salad was $9.99. Not the Lunch Special price. She came and took my bill and card to get it authorized, and returned quickly for my signature. She walked away after giving me her pen.

I ended up giving her a $1.00 tip, which was less than 15%. My logic was that if I had been charged $7.99 and given her a $3.00 tip, or charged $9.99 and given her a $1.00 tip, it was the same. Pay attention to what I say, and act accordingly. It’s not like this was the first or second time visiting Red Lobster for lunch.

ADDENDUM:  I returned yesterday (7/7/14) for lunch and happened to have the same waitress as above.  I asked for water, said I didn’t want any bread, and was ready to order… blackened catfish, steamed broccoli and honey-mustard dressing with my salad.  The waitress went away quickly.  She returned with my water and shortly after that, my salad with honey-mustard dressing.  I was about 2/3rds of the way through my house salad when the manager brought my blackened catfish and broccoli.

The catfish was moist underneath the crusty black seasoning and the broccoli warm and slightly buttery.  I finished all rather quickly.

I got out my credit card and shortly my waitress came with my bill, taking my card and then returning in a short time with the receipt for me to sign.  I gave her a $3 tip and wrote on the back of the receipt, “Excellent service!”… and then left.