I’d like to start off with saying thank you to all the semolina followers on this forum. I read every post about the restaurant; in this chat as well as all the other mentions in the other threads. I really appreciate all the feedback, good and bad.
@paryzer I’m not going to get into an argument with you over your review; everyone is entitled to their opinion. However when my server with over 30 years of PROFESSIONAL restaurant experience, as well as working with me for over 5 years, pings someone within 5 minutes of sitting down that you are going to have some sort of problem; she is usually right. and come to find out the moment you left her exact words were “That may have been the worst customer, I have ever had to deal with in my life.” Take it as you will, but you’re very unprofessional review means nothing to me.
I know @sockster and a few other “HO’s” can back up Karen’s excellent and professional service, and her lovely attitude. Its the reason her and I have worked together for so long, as well as most of my staff. For the customers who have not tried Semolina yet, try it. Allow our servers, Karen included, to prove to you that they are professional and have a love for what they do. What really sets our service apart from other restaurants is the servers have the same love and passion for Semolina and what we do at the restaurant as myself.
Some people like our policies, some people don’t care about them, others don’t like them. They are set up the way to make the flow of dinner service as smooth as they can possibly be. And to provide the best guest experience we can possibly provide. We are a small restaurant of 15 tables and 45 seats. There’s not much wiggle room for really anything especially to allow 2 people to sit at a 4-top.(We obviously accommodate when we can as Mr. Paryzer experienced as well as another customer on this thread). Mr. Paryzer our 15 table restaurant turned over all of our tables twice last night. Other tables might not have been sat at, however they were reserved for the night and we do our best to honor each and every reservation for customers to be seated promptly.
Backtracking to some other comments about the restaurant, ie the noise, the waiting area, the size of the tables. We have been installing more sound tiles although it is hard with it being such a small “Box” space; but we are trying. It is also so hard being in a small space when all it takes is a bottle of wine and a girls night out at one table to be loud. To address the waiting area and tables we may potentially have an opportunity to expand our waiting area which will allow us to increase table size as well. We just need what we have in the works to be finalized. Which should be in the fall, So stay tuned.
Again Thank you “HO’s” for all your support. It is people like you who push me everyday to better the restaurant as well as the Semolina brand. And a big shout out to @sockster who has followed me and my career for a number of years now!
Chuck, thank you for reply. I have already apologized several times for my unprofessional rant. It was uncalled for, but I was so frustrated because we have never been treated with such disrespect in our lives. I guess your very professional server might have had an off day, or I might have upset her by politely asking for a 4 top at 4PM on a Sunday in an empty restaurant that was still empty when we left. We purposely dined at that ungodly hour, and took the one hour trip from North Jersey, so we wouldn’t be in the way when business usually picks up. She couldn’t get rid of us fast enough after that, even though we did nothing to warrant such treatment. I made it clear that we didn’t want our entree coming out immediately after our appetizers and she assured me it would be properly paced. After we finished our appetizer I asked her to please wait a few minutes to fire up the entree but she told me it was too late and made no effort to hold off. And as my wife went to the bathroom, after finishing our appetizers, her entree came out and sat under the fan making it cold by the time she came back. They could have at least attempted to cover it up. It was also unprofessional for the staff to be congregating by the hostess area (right next to our table) and whispering all night long by my wife. I guess if we were seated one table over it wouldn’t have been so bad.
Any way, you have an extremely talented and creative chef and the food is exceptional. I wish you only the best, and lets just chalk it up to an off day on both sides.
It seems to me that you were unnecessarily disrespectful of @paryzer. There was obviously some conflict between him and Karen. These things happen. But he did recommend that others patronize your restaurant, and he praised the food. I think that you owe him an apology.
'That may have been the worst customer, I have ever had to deal with in my life.” Take it as you will, but you’re very unprofessional review means nothing to me."
Let’s just chalk it up to the 100 degree weather and full moon.
Chuck, just so you know, this unprofessional review is the exception and not the norm with me. I am always very professional and polite and shower praise on the restaurants we go to. For a sample of my normal reviews, please see my recent review on newly opened restaurant Bloom in Verona, NJ. This restaurant barely seats 20 people and the servers couldn’t have been more friendlier and the Chef/owner came out several times to see how we were enjoying our meal. They gave us no problems when we requested a larger 4 top (even though that was probably 20% of their tables). This is how you treat your customers.
By the way, feel free to use my beautiful pictures of your outstanding food
Chuck, I’m really not sure what to say about your response. I know you have a popular and tiny spot, but I think there are better ways to handle a customer’s response. If nothing else, in spite of his/their experience, the diner STILL praised the food, posted some great photos, AND left a 20% tip. That right there should give you some idea of what kind of person he is, although he doesn’t need anyone on here to defend him. I have friends who are chefs and owners so I know just how hard it is to run a restaurant, but I think you might want to step back and look at the entire post.
Now, a question–and there’s no snark here…I’m curious to know if this is how your service always goes. “we got served 2 appetizers, a pasta dish, and 2 entrees in barely 45 minutes,” Was this simply because of the 90-minute window before the 5:30 reservations came in, or do you generally get people in/out that fast? I’m asking because I have some friends who would welcome that and others who would hate it.
Just so you know I am not going crazy, below are some excerpts of reviews on yelp that were conveniently hidden.
From Jackie V.: The older waitress rushed us 2 times to order our dessert & we were trying to enjoy our wine after dinner. She said there would be 2 other seating after ours which they should space out the next set of people out to give everyone a reasonable amount of time to eat - we were only there for 1 hour & 10 minutes tops. She brought us our check with our desserts to rush us a 3rd time. We definitely won’t be back.
From Nancy G.: My friend and I were still chatting a bit after I paid when much to my surprise and not a little horror the server approached our table and said “I’m sorry but I have to ask you to leave. We need the table.” I noted the time was 8:00.
In 50+ years of dining out I have NEVER been asked to leave a restaurant, for any reason. I can’t understand why their scheduling problem became MY problem. If the courses had arrived in a more timely fashion I suspect we would have been gone in the “time allotted.” However, I find this treatment totally unacceptable and although the food was good and I might have considered going back, I doubt I will. As I was leaving I had a respectful conversation with a server who happened to be at the front, and I asked her to pass on my experience to the owners. Since they had my phone number from my having made my reservation, the least they could have done was call me the next day to apologize. That did not happen.
By the way I do not intend to enter a review on yelp. I just kept it in this small food forum.
@paryzer like I said in my original post I’m not here to argue about your personal experience. I simply quoted what my server said about you upon arrival and upon departure. There’s two sides to every story and all this will be is a he said, she said scenario. The forum got your he said, and I stated what she said. And like I said because of your “unprofessional rant” It means nothing to me. If it was a negative review written with a little integrity and not directly bashing a staff member I would have taken something from it and potentially grown from it.
@CurlzNJ yes I get it, and like I said two sides to every story. There are also plenty people that Karen has given excellent service as posted above, however a direct attack was unnecessary and if his unnecessary rant was written a little more professionally, I would have responded differently. and Both @paryzer and I chalked it off as an off night from both parties. To answer your question. We allow 90 minutes for tables upto 4 and 2 hours for tables uptown 6. On Fridays and Saturdays we only have 1 table that seats 6 and during the rest of the week, if we can push tables together we will. Also with the 90 minutes we accommodate longer sit times during the week when we can.
Friends and NJ Neighbors, I’m sitting out on any comments since I have previously reviewed this restaurant. At this point we have read @paryzer unfortunate experience and we have also heard @semolinanj response.
I fail to see any benefit from pointing fingers or piling on one way or the other, we read what we read and we make our judgments from there. It just seems the conversation is getting away from the experience and moving into finger pointing, blaming or shaming. None of which is truly adding any value to the conversation.
I’m going to ask at this point we refrain from any more finger pointing or opinions about opinions. If you have something to add regarding your direct experiences or questions for @semolinanj please feel free to share. We encourage members of the community being owners, managers and chef’s to participate, let’s not contribute to an environment where they do not feel welcome.
Let’s try to get the conversation(s) back to experiences and away from judgments.
And I read every review and looked at every reservation and made notes both those reviewers showed up late for their reservation and were told how much time they had to eat and both agreed to sit down (like she did with you). We also extended Nancy G’s time to an hour and fifty minutes. Obviously there is only so much we can do, We told them how much time they had to sit down before the next reservation, they opted to sit. We made them aware it was their decision to sit and when the next table showed up for their reservation, we had to ask them to leave. They would have had the full 90 minutes to eat if they didn’t show up 20 minutes late and then beg us to sit because we typically don’t honor reservations after 15 minutes. We were threatened with a Yelp review upon there departure for both the reservations.
I look at all these sites and read every review and I can usually find exactly the table the review is from. I then speak with my staff get any information from them and make a decision on what to do. For example there is a recent review on TripAdvisor about being rushed and having a check on there table at 630pm. I looked up her reservation and she occupied the table until 720pm and he desserts didn’t go out of the kitchen until 7. And that is the kind of stuff as a restaurant owner we have to deal with. Its one of the few “bonuses” of being a such a small restaurant and the use of Opentable , it is easy for us to figure who is who and keep notes on guest experiences,
After waiting 10 or 15 minutes to clear the table and get our leftovers and check. I guess in your book the customer is always wrong, and the restaurant is always right. You seem to have an excuse for everything. Instead of relying on digital items, how about actually observing real behavior for a change?
I’m sorry. I was not going to reply any more. I thought we could just move on, but you continue to denigrate your customers and call them liars. Great way to run the hospitality business.
By the way, I had my delicious pork chop and chittara leftovers tonight, and was able to enjoy them even more without being rushed.
@paryzer that wasn’t intended to make or sound like anyone is right or wrong.
I read your review, you said you received your entrees in 45 minutes time, I answered a questioned and followed up with the time you left the restaurant? that would put you at 4:45. You left at 5:19 which it was 35 minutes after you received your pork chop and scallops? Im assuming the it took you about 20 - 25 minutes to eat dinner and if you sat another 10 - 15 that puts you at 35.
I mean am I missing something here? I answer someone’s question and I get a response that I’m never wrong?
I don’t think the time limit thing is at all strange. Here is a snippet from my upcoming reservation at Quintonil in Mexico City:
“TIME: The maximum stay time for reservation in the restaurant is 3 hours. We appreciate your understanding and support to free the table in the established time.”
Also, not to further pile on this situation but we have been to Semolina a few times and had no issues. They accommodated our request to move from a 2 top to a 4 top when we had our toddler without hesitation and the restaurant was busy at the time. We haven’t been back in months because she is way more active and there isn’t a place to have her walk around inside without fully being in the way. We did try to get in on Saturday but only open spots were at 5 PM or 9 something so we had to pass.
There is a quite a difference between a 90 minute time limit and a 3 hour time limit. I would not be at all bothered by a 3 hour time limit.
I don’t like when the mains appear the instant the app plates are cleared. (Or even worse before they are cleared)
If you want to enjoy a cocktail or glass of wine while you peruse the menu, order an app course and a
main course and then finish with coffee or dessert 90 minutes is too short, especially if you are out with friends. Dining out in a “nice” restaurant should not feel like you are running race against the clock. A set time limit that doesn’t differentiate between a table that orders multiple courses vs one that is just an entree and coffee makes no sense at all. The tables with apps, mains, and dessert are providing significantly more revenue and especially profit to the restaurant. Why do they have the same time limit as the marginally profitable table?
I understand the tough economics of restaurants and why they need to turn tables (especially a small restaurant without a liquor license). However, you need to have a business model that is a good and fair proposition for your customers to avoid being one of those places that is packed when it opens but doesn’t last long after the initial buzz dies away.