Wednesday 11 April 2001
(Note: The normal Tinotopia restaurant review guidelines do not apply here: read on to find out why.)
On 11 April 2001, we again decided to try Fuddruckers for lunch. Very few of our experiences there in the past had been horrible, and the fries are very tasty.
When we got in the door, there were about 25 people waiting in line. Because the place had — for the first time I’ve ever seen — all three cash registers open, we decided to wait.
The wait was a long one, at least 15 minutes. There are two critical problems: first, Fuddruckers uses dial terminals for credit card authentication. This causes each transaction to take a minimum of ten seconds longer than it would with more modern means. Figure 20 transactions x 10 seconds = 200 seconds, or about 1/5 of our total wait time. Second, about half of the people don’t seem to have any idea what they want when they get up to the counter. The menu is very poorly-designed and -placed. Burgers are listed together, but if it’s a turkey burger or a garden burger you want, they’re listed under "sandwiches". Side dishes are listed on two supplemental posters, one cleverly hidden against a side wall.
I notice all of this about the menu because I am a vegetarian, and I always check to make sure that they haven’t stopped offering the Gardenburger. Fuddruckers’ concept revolves around large portions of ground beef, which means that as a vegetarian my options there are somewhat limited (I don’t like any of the few other veggie things). The Gardenburger was still listed on the menu.
Anyway, when we finally made it to the cash register to place orders, I was told that they were out of Gardenburgers. I asked to speak to the manager, and she informed me that this was normal, and that restaurants ran out of things all the time, and that I should just eat something else.
That’s right, after spending 20 minutes in line waiting to pay $7.00 for something that you can buy at the grocery store — at, as it happens, a grocery store just next door to this Fuddrucker’s — for about $1.00, I was told that I couldn’t have it. No signs pointed out that they were out of Gardenburgers; if there had been, I would not have wasted 20 minutes of my life in that horrible place. If they’d cared enough to go next door and buy some Gardenburger patties at retail — they get only a 700% markup on the cost of materials that way, but they’d avoid pissing off customers — I would never have noticed that there was a problem. If they’d bothered to reorder the things before they ran out, there would never have been a problem in the first place.
I’m done with Fuddruckers. I expect bad customer service these days, and I expect to be treated as an unwelcome burden by the people to whom I am giving money. But I refuse to take it from this particular restaurant any more. I advise all of you to do the same.
Fuddruckers — and particularly this one, in Herndon, VA — does not care about its customers or its reputation. The restaurant is dirty, the wait is long, the value is poor, the staff don’t care, and there’s no particular guarantee that the food you want will actually be available. Chain restaurants sell convenience and consistency. The Fuddruckers chain fails to deliver either of these.Posted by tino at 10:08 11.04.01