Sunday, May 14, 2017

one more time

"I wish I knew how to quit you." — Jack Twist, Brokeback Mountain

Some people just don't know when to give up. I suppose my wife and I fall into that category, because Sunday night we found ourselves, once again, at Movie Tavern.

You remember our first encounter at Movie Tavern, the innovative, long-overdue concept theater that offers full restaurant service while you watch a first-run movie. Our initial experience was stellar and we anxiously anticipated our our next visit. Things went so smoothly, so flawlessly, that we could not imagine going to the movies any where else. 

That is, until our second visit. A few weeks after our phenomenal experience, Mrs. Pincus and I ventured back to Movie Tavern. This time, we were exposed to the real Movie Tavern, an unorganized, understaffed, chaotic system of mismanaged perpetual trainees. That evening ran like a textbook example of Murphy's law. Our dessert came out first. We got multiple entrees and appetizers that we did not order and, to cap things off, we were overcharged. A subsequent visit revealed that this was the norm and our first experience was the fluke.

We purposely steered clear of Movie Tavern for nearly a year. But, just this week, Mrs. P received a free pass from Movie Tavern for her May birthday. So, we went. Begrudgingly, but we went.

When I'm calling you...
With the entire movie-going population rushing to see the highly-anticipated sequel to Guardians of the Galaxy (a film I did not care for), my spouse and I opted instead for the live-action musical Beauty and the Beast. We purchased a single admission and surrendered Movie Tavern's birthday voucher for the other. Once ticketed, we entered the theater. A server greeted us almost immediately, although I could not understand a single word he said. He smiled, however, he mumbled his entire "welcome" spiel. We chose the "2 for $30" special that includes an appetizer, two entrees from a selected menu and two cookies for dessert. My wife and I follow the laws of kashrut and our house is strictly kosher. Out in the world, we eat as vegetarians. Actually, I am a vegetarian (a fish-eating pescetarian, if you want to get technical), but my still-carnivorous "better half" will not consume meat in restaurants. We selected the delicious-sounding deep-fried artichoke hearts. (Coincidentally, we just had these at another restaurant last weekend and, indeed, they were delicious.) Our entree choices were limited to only two that were vegetarian-friendly. We decided on portobello mushroom sandwiches, but were quickly informed by our server that they were not available this evening. Mrs. P expressed her disappointment. The server mumbled and pointed to the menu. I deciphered "pizza" from his muttering. We resigned to the flatbread pizza and again, we were told they, too, were unavailable. The server kept pushing the regular pizza, but we resisted. Losing patience, I decided to forgo the "special" and just get fish and chips. Surprise! Fish and chips were not available either. Our non-meat options were narrowing at the same pace as my patience. We settled on side salads and an order of meatless nachos to split. At this point, our server had disappeared. I pressed the convenient "call button" with which each seat is outfitted. The blue lights gleamed to tell me that my request for a server had been sent. We waited. And waited. And waited. And waited some more. Soon, a different member of the waitstaff arrived and apologized, cryptically, saying that our server was "otherwise occupied." Was he watching another movie? Was he getting a lesson in diction? Was he ever coming back? Our back-up server took our salad-and-nachos order and explained that the reason so many items were unavailable was they are transitioning to a new menu and would no longer be carrying some current offerings. Wow! Someone took the time for a little customer service.

Our food arrived after the theater had darkened and the coming attractions had already commenced. Eating a salad in the dark was an unexpected challenge. I was forced to consume some components that I would normally relegate to the far side of my plate. But, eating by the light of a flickering screen twenty feet away from me, I'm sure I swallowed a few otherwise shunned tomato wedges. Nachos are another story. I would not recommend eating nachos in the dark. Nachos, when shared with someone with whom you are close, are usually a "finger food." But, without being able to see what you're reaching for, nachos become a sloppy, gooey heap of unidentifiable individual ingredients. While gingerly reaching for the triangular silhouette of a corn chip, I stuck my thumb into a wet mixture of refried beans and shredded lettuce. As I navigated the morsel towards my mouth, I could feel rivulets of pico de gallo running down my chin. We had to wait until a daylight scene (of which there are few) or brightly-lit segment (like the famous "ballroom" scene, which in this version, is not especially luminous) in order to see how close we were to emptying our plate.

Midway through the film and our meal, our server stealthily slunk by and dropped off our check. When the movie ended, I had to track him down to pay. And then, he vanished with my credit card. A few other servers, who were clearing dishes and gathering trash, asked if we needed help. I said I was waiting for my credit card to be returned. They all offered the same reply: "Oh sorry. No problem." Each one echoed the same apologetic sentiment like a chorus of confessors. Finally, our server returned to the theater and handed me my credit card, repeating the "Oh sorry. No Problem." refrain. I got the feeling that the staff at Movie Tavern get a lot of practice apologizing, as they do it quite often.

As my wife and I walked to our car, I imagined this would be the last time we would make this trip. But, Mrs. P told me that earlier in the evening she tweeted "Why do we continue to subject ourselves to Movie Tavern?" and tagged @MovieTavern.

Yesterday, they responded with a private message offering their patented apology and complementary admission and thirty dollars in food vouchers for a return visit. Hopefully, I won't get another blog post out of it,

1 comment:

  1. Maybe you should pack a picnic for your next trip?