As my friends, family and dare I say 5 readers know, I’m a very patient person. In fact, I would go as far to say that most things don’t bother me. When I read restaurant reviews that complain that service was bad or slow, I do not pay attention to them because I normally do not have any problems with that. Jason and I are the kinds of customers most restaurants would love to have. We rarely – if ever – complain about the food and are extremely nice to everybody in the establishment from busboys to bartenders.

However, on a particular Saturday night, I had one of the worst dining experiences of my life. I’m going to share with you my letter to management at Cipollini (2110 Northern Blvd., Manhasset, NY 11030) since they have not only failed to respond, but because I’m still not done venting. I took some liberties and added a few things I thought of after I sent this letter that I wished I had said. Plus Jason wanted to get in his two cents. You needn’t read this, but if you’d like here it is:

I rarely, if ever, contact restaurants when I have a poor experience. Having worked in restaurants for several years and eaten at them for many many more, I know a great place can have an off night. However, I feel compelled to write regarding the service we received from a maitre d’ at your restaurant the night of Saturday, March 15th. His attitude goes beyond a rectifiable mishap, but falls into a poor job in customer service training.

We were a group of 11 (all adults with one 12 year old growing boy) and knowing we were a large crowd, I called earlier in the day to see when would be an appropriate time to come (if at all). The reservationist told me 8:30 would be fine so we arrived at 8:20 and were told by the maitre d’ that we would have to wait, which was fine since we were 10 minutes early. Fast forward to 9:00 and my entire party of 11 is still waiting for a table and have not been approached by the maitre d’ at all to indicate how much longer our wait will be while many other people get seated before us. Not even an acknowledgement that we’re now 30 minutes past our reserved time.

Therefore, I approached your maitre d’ and asked how much longer it would be but instead of being given a finite time guesstimate, I was instead told that I should have expected this because it is Saturday night. That is a totally inappropriate response – we weren’t walk-ins. Yes, I understand you are overcrowded on Saturday night, which is why I called to make the reservation in the first place. If you were unable to accommodate per prior experience, then I should have been told on the phone that it was impossible and I never would have ventured to Cipollini in the first place.

We waited an additional 15 minutes and at 9:15, I approached the maitre d’, obviously agitated. Had we been told an approximate wait time we might not have been so frustrated. The maitre d’ told us repeatedly he had no idea how much longer it would be. I was then told to calm down and asked why I wanted to “ruin my evening.” He then went on to say that he was trying to “do us a favor” already by finding us as table and chastised my husband for “being impatient” while laughing about the situation with the other maitre d’. I think waiting 45 minutes past a reservation without throwing the clipboard at him is patient. Especially after we saw party of 4 after party of 4 be seated. Seriously though, is a restaurant honoring the reservations of paying customers a FAVOR? I am appalled that that this may be the attitude you foster in your maitre d’s.

At this point, we were ready to leave but apparently the boisterous conversation that my husband was having miraculously freed up two tables, though no patrons had left. Tables were in fact open and we weren’t seated until we made a scene after waiting nearly an hour.

As we sat, our waiter was apparently told that we were very unhappy and he did he best to improve the situation by providing fantastic service. Though the food is overpriced, preying on the wallets of the affluent neighborhood in which you are located, I will concede that it was good. Thus, I will not complain about either of those aspects of your restaurant. However, for a large party whose bill ended up being nearly a thousand dollars, I am disgusted at the door service we received and the first impression we were given.

I hope this was a one off situation but I highly doubt I’ll visit your restaurant again. I’m also doubtful that one customer is a huge loss for your establishment, but I’m sure I won’t be the last customer you lose if my experiences prove to be commonplace. I will definitely be letting my experience known to any friends and family who should ask my opinion of Cipollini.

And there you have it. I feel a bit better and I hope a few more people hear about this awful experience. You know the worst part? They never even apologized. I assure you that the customer is not always right, but in this case we obviously were.

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