Monday, April 14, 2008

pancake madness

My sister came damn near close to getting arrested at IHOP this weekend, all over an order of cheese blintzes.

This has been an ongoing struggle for my family, as we fell in love with IHOP's cheese blintzes back when the restaurants still made them correctly. Over the past few years, they seem to have gradually transitioned from serving these thin pancakes filled with a delicious mixture of cheese with preserves to fresh fruit--a key factor. Although the preserves, our topping of choice, are still listed on the menu, servers often stare in confusion when we request them, usually replying, "Uh...let me see if the kitchen can do that," as if we're making some outlandish request for an ingredient not on their menu.

So of course, when Shannon visited our local IHOP in the wee hours of Sunday morning, she was annoyed, but not at all surprised, when her cheese blintzes were served with fresh strawberries, despite her request for preserves. She reminded the waitress of her order, who replied that she didn't think they had any, but she'd check if Shannon insisted. She did insist.

Instead of the waitress returning to the table, however, the manager arrived to inform Shannon that they did not have any preserves. Shannon politely reminded that manager that the preserves are, in fact, listed on the menu, and that perhaps if they do not plan to keep them on stock, perhaps they should consider removing them from the menu. Imagine her surprise when the manager responded by instructing Shannon to leave.

She did not say, "I'm sorry, is there something else I can get for you?" or even, "If you don't like it you can leave." This was a command. "We don't have any preserves and you need to leave. Your friends are welcome to stay and finish their food"

Shannon, stunned, sat for a moment after the manager walked away, considering the exchange which had just occurred. "Did she really just order me to leave?" she thought. Staring at a plate of food she did not want, and dashed of any hopes that the restaurant would replace it with another dish, she got up from her seat. As she walked toward the door, she heard the Restaurant Manager From Hell screaming across the restaurant, "STOP HER! She's trying to leave without paying!"

WTF?

The off-duty police officer hired to work security detail, likely thrilled to finally have something to do besides sit all night staring at pancakes, rushed out the door after her, and promptly declared that he had every intention of arresting her.

Somewhere between Shannon crying in frustration and her boyfriend throwing the receipt at the manager after paying the bill, the cop decided to let her go. The bill was, after all, paid, although I disagree that she should have been forced under threat of arrest to pay for a meal she did not want and did not eat.

She's now embarked on a personal mission to have that manager fired, calling everyone from the store manager to the area supervisor until she gets her way. I suggested that she instead request free pancakes for life, but apparently IHOP has lost its appeal to her.

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