Before getting into real estate, I was a retail and restaurant manager for a few years after I graduated. My first job out of college was as a rental car manager, then I worked at a local soup and salad restaurant for about two years, then at CompUSA as the customer service manager. As a real estate agent and broker for the past twelve years, I have seen and solved MANY service issues.
Tonight, I experienced what I believe to be the worst service on record at a restaurant just a few minutes from my home. My children were frightened, and my wife and I were irate at being treated so badly.
Camino Real Mexican Restaurant and Cantina on Highway 685 in Pflugerville has been officially removed from the Crouch family dining choices forever. There is only one other local restaurant that I will not frequent, and that is the Applebee’s at La Frontera in Round Rock.
So, I’m sure you are wondering what could possibly have happened to cause such a strong and visceral reaction. I am happy to share this with you.
We had eaten there a couple on a couple of other occasions, and we liked the carne guisada and some of the other food as well. In fact, my wife and I had mentioned that we were happy to have a decent Mexican restaurant just minutes away.
Tonight, all of that changed.
My carne guisada was tough for some reason, so I didn’t really finish all of it. My wife’s enchilada contained Velveeta (which I only found out about later – you will see why soon). My son took ONE bite of his quesadilla and spit it out, stating that he had lost his appetite and that it tasted “weird”. My wife tried a bite of it, and she said it tasted “kinda like perfume”.
We immediately informed the waitress, who seemed alarmed that we were attempting to return the food. I asked if we could get the chicken tenders instead, since we had confirmed that there was something amiss with the food.
She disappeared, then another waitress came to the table and confronted my son with the quesadilla in hand. WHAT!?!?!?!? You are going to stare down a nine-year old boy and force him to explain what was wrong with his food? I have never heard of anything like this in my life, but then again, I have probably only eaten out a few thousand times.
I asked if she was the manager, and she said, “No.” I asked if the manager was there, and again she said, “No”. Really?
She told us that we could have the chicken tenders, but that we would be paying for the quesadilla as well. I told her in no uncertain terms that we would most certainly NOT be paying for the quesadilla, and that we didn’t need any additional food.
THEN, the apparent manager came to the table, scowling and speaking Spanish. In Spanish, she said (verbatim), “The cheese is good. If he doesn’t like it, it’s not my problem.” She seemed surprised when I answered her in Spanish, stating that “No, it’s not good”. I again informed all three of them that we were not going to pay for the quesadilla.
You won’t believe what happened next.
She threatened to call the POLICE on us for not paying for this bad food, which cost $4.25. The patrons at the table next to us seemed extremely surprised and they agreed wholeheartedly that this was ridiculous behavior. I told the waitress to tell the manager that we were happy to pay for all of the other food and tip, just not the quesadilla, as I was thinking that maybe there was a communication problem?
Instead, the manager brandished the phone, as if she were ready to call 9-1-1 to report theft of food.
I told the waitress to inform the manager that this was going to get ample publicity, as my wife and I both write restaurant reviews for a number of local sites. Additionally, I told them that I would be speaking with the local newspaper (and I will). The waitress apologized profusely for what she clearly knew was wrong. I tipped her 20% and told her that it was not her fault, but that the manager had just made a big mistake. I also recommended that she look for a new place to work. Yes, really.
My wife was far more stubborn than I at that point – “Let them call the police. I would love for the police to come and sort this out. Are they going to put our kids in jail? I am not going anywhere.”
The manager finally relented somewhat and offered to charge me 1/2 price for my son’s food (which made it TWO DOLLARS) and we paid and quickly left, vowing never to return. I couldn’t help but inform the people walking toward the front door from the parking lot about what we had just experienced. Frankly, I still can’t believe I paid for this type of treatment.
As a 13-year resident of Pflugerville, twelve of which I have spent selling homes, I know a LOT of people and I help a LOT of people who are moving to the area. As such, I can easily influence those new residents on their restaurant choices. I also often take my clients to local places for lunch when we are looking at homes.
Simply put, the manager of Camino Real chose the wrong person to threaten tonight.
I found another review online for Camino Real in Pflugerville which is titled “Nasty, rude, and slow“: http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g56451-d983006-r13269113-Camino_Real-Pflugerville_Texas.html. Apparently, these people were also threatened with police action.
Unfortunately, you reap what you sow, and they are apparently sowing seeds of anger in their customers. I predict that they will be out of business within six to twelve months, especially since people have less discretionary income and they are more choosy about where to eat, in my opinion.
To sum up, tonight we experienced the following at Camino Real Pflugerville:
RUDE AND SCARY MANAGER THREATENING TO CALL THE POLICE IN FRONT OF OUR CHILDREN
FORCED TO PAY $2.00 FOR UNEATEN QUESADILLA THAT TASTED “LIKE PERFUME”
TOUGH MEAT FOR MY FOOD and VELVEETA IN THE ENCHILADAS for my wife’s food
DO NOT waste your hard-earned money on this establishment. They are more interested in collecting every dime for the food than about your actual dining experience. They are also not above scaring your children in the process. Please understand that at no point did I curse or yell at them – I just didn’t think it was fair to pay for food that was inedible and that made my son lose his appetite.
I also find it telling that it is their modus operandi to threaten to call the cops if you try to avoid paying for nasty food. The other reviewer that I linked to above mentioned that the beans smelled like cigarettes.
If I can prevent one single customer from dealing with this nonsense at the hands of an unreasonable and angry manager, this post was a success in my mind.