Sunday, January 28, 2007

Mr. Greenjeans Goes South

Recently I was at the Eaton Centre in downtown Toronto with friends. The Eaton Centre is a great place to shop, hang out and people-watch. It is a classic tourist-trap – with lots of atmosphere from the hip and trendy Mac Store – to the scrumptious fattening (but ooooh so yummy) smells of Godiva’s Chocolates – to the well-to-do (and overpriced) high-end fashion stores.

There are two food courts in The Eaton Centre – which is Canada’s largest shopping mall. And there are even some restaurants in the mall – where you can enjoy a fine meal served with a smile.

Well, at least that’s how it used to be.

The Eaton Centre is very much like the CNTower – both are landmarks recognized the world over as being uniquely part of the Toronto landscape. And an up-beat fun restaurant in the Eaton Centre has also been a Toronto classic – Mr. Greenjeans.

I remember going to Mr. Greenjeans as a kid with my family. They had the best Buffalo Chips this side of the border, and they had a fun atmosphere. I remember the mini merry-go-rounds they had scattered throughout the restaurant – with their toy fire engine cars for seats. The image of the tall black hat, black cane, and white gloves floating on a background of a blue sky with perfectly placed clouds – an image they still use today in their menus and advertising – was always a reminder of the fun and enjoyment I had eating at Mr. Greenjeans restaurant.

Later in life, I’d go to the very same restaurant on dates, with friends from school, with co-workers from work – always enjoying a fun atmosphere, good food and a nice time out overall.

I even fell in love with some of their less manly beverages – they had a great selection of cocktails made with ice cream. My favorite was the Grasshopper – French Vanilla ice cream, crème de menthe, crème de coca and Kahlua. (Yeah I know – real men only drink beer, wine and shots – yeah right!) Recently, they changed their menu and got rid of all their ice cream cocktails. I was disappointed, but hey, they still had great food and a fun atmosphere.

That fun atmosphere was ruined last night – completely tossed out the window by the wonderful staff of Mr. Greenjeans. While at the Eaton Centre with friends, we decided to have dinner. We all decided to go to Mr. Greenjeans – we had gone many times in the past and really enjoyed it.

Often there are long line-ups to get in and you have to wait to be seated – not a problem, usually it is well worth the wait. However, tonight was different – although we had gone many times before, tonight we were made to feel very unwelcome.

We always ask for booths when we go out as a group – it is easier to talk with everyone and more comfortable and private. We’re even willing to wait most of the time for a booth, as it may take longer to get. The main thing is the host is friendly, polite and professional.

Well, we were told the wait for a booth could be quite long, so we said a table would be okay. We were seated almost instantly – the hostess came up to us and told us our table was ready.

We were led to a table right at the front of the restaurant – in fact it probably is the very first table in the restaurant – right by the entrance stairway. No one in our group wanted to sit in such a high-traffic area, so we asked if we could sit somewhere else.

Now, the customer may not always be right – but treat us with respect and we’ll wait for something better to turn up.

But our hostess immediately said: “Oh that’s all we have available, this is the only table left.”

We saw other tables that were empty and being cleared – they probably would be ready soon – and normally we’d be willing to wait. But this hostess was very pushy, insisting – no -- demanding – that this will be our table.

Maybe our lack of shopping bags indicated that we were low-class or something, because obviously this hostess didn’t care to allow us to wait for another table to open up. She wanted that specific table filled with our warm bodies.

We left the restaurant and saw that the bar section – with big lounge chairs – was quite empty. So, we went back up to the hostess and asked her if she could seat us there. She told us there was a waiting list and we’d have to wait – even though there clearly was quite a few open tables with more than enough room for our small group of somewhat regular customers.

Everyone in our group got the distinct impression that this hostess was giving us attitude – why we have no idea. Maybe in the rush to change the menu of a classic Toronto landmark, they lost more than just their ice cream cocktails.

So, we decided to go down to the other restaurant in The Eaton Centre – The City Grill. We asked how long it would be for a booth for our group – and were told there was no wait. We were taken in warmly right away!

Originally, we were seated at a booth in some distant corner near the kitchen. But the host immediately saw another opening, and suggested a funky round booth in front of the bar – complete with large-screen TV and a great view of all the beverages available. We happily took up our new seats and enjoyed amazingly warm and friendly service – something we used to get at Mr. Greenjeans. At the City Grill, our waiter was very friendly and prompt, and knew when to come and check on us and when to leave us be. It was an exceptionally good dinning experience.

But hey, no loss to Mr. Greenjeans – our bill at the end of the night was almost $200.00 – I guess Mr. Greenjeans can afford to lose our business after all? Though if Mr. Greenjeans staff continues to impress their somewhat regular customers like us – who knows, maybe all their business will go south too – and then that would be the end of a once great Toronto landmark.

It is always tragic to watch a piece of Toronto shrivel up and die – but even more tragic knowing it could have been prevented long before it happens.

At least there are still some restaurants in Toronto that still treat the customer right – to bad none of those are called Mr. Greenjeans.

1 comment:

  1. Mr. Greenjeans responds:

    Dear Jordon Green,

    On behalf of the entire management team at Mr. Greenjeans we were deeply concerned about the experience you had in our restaurant. We would like to thank you for bringing these issues to the attention of management as we cannot take action on issues that need to be addressed unless customers, such as yourself, take the time to tell us when we have failed to meet or exceed your expectations.

    I would really appreciate it if you could take a little more of your time and describe to me what the hostess who was so rude to you looked like so that I can further deal with this matter as quickly as possible! The exact date and time you visited would also be very helpful. I cannot stress how much I would like to deal with this matter quickly.

    We would love it if you would come visit us again and give us another try, so I would like to send you some Gift Certificates to be used any time over the next year. When you come to visit us again please feel free to ask for the General Manager, Mark Grant or myself, Erin Park, Customer Service Director. If you could please send me your mailing address so that I could get these to you as soon as possible, that would be great!

    Again, I extend our deepest apologies and look forward to exceeding your expectations in the future.

    Yours truly,

    Erin Park

    Director of Marketing

    And Customer Service