A concept which was fresh in mid-1980's, a 50's era Diner offering Burgers, Milk Shakes, and the like served by Fun, Sassy Servers, unfortunately has not aged gracefully.
A Chicago local, I have over the past 30 years taken numerous out-of-town visitors here, not because I have found it ever to be that great, but because it was a reasonably fun, different place to visit once a year, and my guests had heard of it, and wanted to go there. Such was the case last week when friends were in from out-of-town.
We showed up reasonably early (6 PM) for a mid-week dinner, and while half-way full, were seated fairly promptly (that is once I could get the attention of the indifferent hostess), and from there, things went downhill rapidly.
The food (Burgers, Chicken Sandwich) was disappointing, not a terribly good value, and took over 30 minutes to arrive once we were able to finally put an order in. One or our orders was delivered completely wrong, and when we were finally able to track down the server, no apologies or other accommodations were offered. The correct sandwich finally arrived 20 mins later.
But that wasn't the most disappointing aspect of our evening. The service in one word, was horrible; Management non-existent. We were sat at a table without the basics (placemats, napkins, silverware), and only got those, because we got up and got them ourselves (note: our server had visited twice, and clearly wasn't going to do anything about it). Numerous orders were being screwed up by the kitchen, including both our table, and one adjacent to us. Even worse, was the table adjacent to us on the other side, who though seated before us, had their order completely "lost" by the kitchen. Our order that was 100% the wrong sandwich, would have never been fixed, if we hadn't gotten up, walked across the restaurant and tracked down our server, who was too involved elsewhere to even see if we had gotten what we had ordered.
And while everyone likes a little sass now and then, it doesn't give the server a right to make younger children feel uncomfortable (to our two 8-year olds, "who ordered the baby meals"), nor to call something "stupid", to the table adjacent to us, who were also a family. And if you are going to do "cast" song numbers with your servers, if you can't find any who are going to embrace the concept, either fire them or drop it all together.
There are many, many, solid family choices in Chicago, this is not one of them.
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