Monday, September 14, 2009

Drinks With a Monkey

So last Wednesday I got a text from NylonThread informing me that DCist was having its 5th birthday party at the H St Country Club and invited me to come on down. I ended up being able to make it down there and, trying to make the best of a short night out, I immediately pounded a Jim Beam & Coke. For whatever reason, I wasn't finding the mixed drink satisfying so on my next round I asked for a shot of Beam and a beer. As I'm picking up my drink, I see something floating in it and it turns out there about a half dozen fruit flies in my shot. I inform the bartender, she immediately cracks open a fresh bottle and replaces the shot.

Not too long after that, Guns & Roses starts playing on the juke box and I take that as my cue to take Monkeyrotica, NylonThread, and IMGoph down to Little Miss Whiskey's Golden Dollar (Sorry Mark). I get my check and I'm flabbergasted to find that I was charged for the shot with the flies in it. I ask the bartender about it and she says, "Well I gave you a new shot" as if somehow that excuses her from serving me a drink with bugs in it.

Now I worked in a few bars and restaurants back in the day and the solemn promise I made to myself when I left that behind was that I was never going to be one of those assholes that talked a bunch of smack about working in the industry and proceeded to tip %15 or be an obnoxious douche who felt the need to correct every waiter and bartender on the finer points of service. So when this dipshit bartender acted like she was doing me a favor by replacing an insect-laden drink I let the shit ride, gave her a %20 tip and headed downstairs.

Problem was I couldn't let the shit go, so while I'm waiting for everyone else to get ready to break out, I quickly outlined the story to the guy working the door and asked him his opinion. He seemed to agree with me, but he called a manager over. So I tell her the story too. At this point I'm paid up, I don't want another drink and I don't even want my money back; I just want to get the fuck out there and go to a place that appreciates my patronage a little bit more. Well this fuckstick manager gives me a bunch of nut roll about how "in the industry" if a mistake is made and they make it right it's perfectly OK to charge the customer and she was actually correct about that. It is OK to charge a customer for a corrected mistake, but doing so doesn't usually win you any loyal customers.

I actually wasn't going to write about this incident. It's a little too close to a "I'm a blogger, fear my poison pen" tantrum for my liking, but the shit didn't sit well with me. The bartender and manager's reactions tell me that the folks staffing the place don't have a good grasp on what their job is or how to do it. I received only the most perfunctory apology and neither the bartender nor the manager made any mention of appreciating my business or hoping that I would come back so they could knock my socks off next time.

I dunno if it's just that the places I bartended I had more autonomy or what, but I would have NEVER charged someone for a mistake like that and depending on the surrounding situation may have just comped the whole check. While discussing this with Monkey and the crew down the street, he made the point that margins are thin on H St. and HSCC is generally populated by douches trucking in from 'burbs in a futile attempt to be edgy and cool. In that context it actually makes sense to hold the line on giving out free drinks. The last thing you want is for the word on the street to be that you're an easy mark for a couple of free drinks for some Tucker Max wannabes from Arlington.


Scenic Artisan said...

it wouldnt sit well with me either.

"perfectly OK". i guess if a place wants to be OK, then they got that down. i prefer more than "ok" too.

IMGoph said...

here's the thing (in defense of the place—i'm not doing this because i feel any great affinity for h street country club. it was my first time there, and it was ok, nothing fantastic, certainly a unique theme)—in order to get these places to be more the way we want them to be, do we have to patronize them more, to keep the bridge and tunnel crowd out? or are they specifically marketing to that demographic, making it pointless for us to try to make it a more neighborhoody place?

does any of that make sense?

Hill Rat said...


The places that are trying to draw a neighborhood crowd make no secret of it, like the Argonaut. I think HSCC is shooting for the "bridge & tunnel" crowd which, IMHO, is a good thing. I want people from MD/VA to come spend their money in my neighborhood, I like that. It's also striving to be a destination restaurant and you can't build a business like that with just neighborhood folks. I can afford a weekly $40 trip to the Argonaut, but donking off $150 on dinner is more of a special occasion thing.

Hopefully HSCC will keep the douches (from all over the DMV) out places like JVLHC and the Pug.

Scenic Artisan said...

i agree with who the HSCC is aiming toward.

its a destination kinda place.

npm said...

Sorry, I'm confused: Were you charged for both the one with the bugs (that you didn't drink) AND the replacement? Or did they just charge for the replacement, and your problem is that they didn't give you a freebie as an apology? If the latter, I agree that's a little cheesy, but not something I'd get upset about.

Hill Rat said...


The latter. Like I said, the bartender and manager didn't actually do anything WRONG, but IMHO they didn't do the right thing either.

I guess my objection is that I was treated as a customer, rather than as a guest. It's a subtle distinction that I was taught early on in my experience in the service industry and one that stays with me to this day.

Like I said in my post, I was slightly hesitant about writing about this incident so I don't know if I would count myself as being "upset." As annoyed as I was, I still tipped appropriately and I didn't make any grand declarations about how I would never go to HSCC again. Still, it seems kind of stupid if you know you have a bar full of bloggers to not handle that situation a little better. Is putting another $6 in the till really worth the potential headache?

Tom A. said...

Oh no wonder I haven't been able to sell my H street area house to one of these people!

I expected them to be dying to live close to H street for a nice house cheaper than any crappy condo in NW.

Aluminum said...

Man, much ado about nothing if you ask me.

Hill Rat said...


Thanks for weighing in. It's always important to me hear from people who don't see things the same way I do. I look forward to your next comment.



Madame Meow said...

I'm mixed on this. Some places would have charged you for the bug-filled drink; some would have charged you for nothing. I think I agree with the fact that H St. (a place I've never been to, btw) is probably trying to go for the broader clientele.

Still-- bugs in my drink = ew = probably not going back, unless I get proper acknowledgment.

Brokey McPoverty said...

you are better than i. i would have:

1 - caused a scene.
2 - wrote some letters to my senator and all local newspapers
3 - staged a one woman protest outside the club for 3 consecutive weekends.

im also borrowing the phrase 'fuckstick' from you. its too awesome.

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