One Minute Per Guy
If you made it all the way through yesterday’s post, you would know that today I am going to tell you a story. Specifically a story about how I promised the area regional manager that I would return to Five Guys Famous Burgers and Fries.
It’s surprising, I know, since I love Five Guys. Why would I be talking to the regional manager? Why would I need to promise to return?
Despite my fussiness, I rarely complain – that’s a whole separate story. But it is because I love them so that I felt compelled to submit a complaint online after a bad experience in the Schenectady location [insert snide comment about Schenectady here].
Maybe it’s because I’m watching too much Fringe or Sarah Connor Chronicles on Hulu, but I see a war coming – off in the distance. A battle of burgers that will pit the eastern Five Guys against the beloved western In-N-Out. And I want to see Five Guys come out on top. But for them to win, they must be prepared.
As the chain expands at breakneck speed, I fear for its future. So what started off as a note turned into more of a letter. Just because I know some of you will be curious, I have appended the text of the letter at the end of this post.
Because this post isn’t really about my bad experience. It is really about the restaurant’s reaction.
First, I sent a picture of some mangled fries to the company’s Twitter feed. Then, I submitted my note on the company’s website. I hit send at 9:40 pm on a Wednesday. At 9:45 pm the phone rings. I joke to Mrs. Fussy that it’s probably Five Guys calling me up.
Well, it was.
And I had it wrong. It wasn’t the regional manager, it was the director of operations, a fellow by the name of Bill Rabbitt, who would seem to be the hardest-working man in quick service restaurants.
I have no idea how they pulled off this impressive trick. Presumably it has something to do with the internets and Blackberries.
Mr. Rabbitt was very apologetic on the phone, thanked me for my input, and wanted to find a way to get me to go back to their restaurants. To be clear, I never threatened to leave the fold. But I was so surprised to be hearing from him directly, that I didn’t ask for what I really wanted – an update as to when the problems I reported in Schenectady were resolved.
Instead, he sent me a letter that is good for three burgers, three large fries and three drinks the next time I go to one of the six restaurants within his region.
Well, I can’t eat all those burgers and fries. So who wants to come along?
If you are interested, submit a comment as to why you want to eat burgers with the Profussor, and I’ll find some way of coming up with two winners. Maybe Mrs. Fussy will get to pick. We will make every attempt to come up with a burger time that works for both winners. But no guarantees.
And for those of you who want to read what I wrote to Five Guys that resulted in such largesse on their part, here you go. The following is unedited, and appears exactly as I entered it in the comment field of the Five Guys website:
I love 5 Guys, and have written very positively about the chain on my blog. Until today, I thought you would be able to bury In-N-Out burger should there ever be a western expansion.
This was my first visit to the Schenectady store. I should have known immediately that this location was not up to par, because the dining room smelled strongly of bathroom tablets. It was very unappetizing. But I had promised the kid we would eat here.
We ordered. And we waited. And we waited. It was not busy. There was only one order ahead of ours. But orders behind ours kept on being filled. And we waited.
So I checked on our food, and it was not there. The staff gave our food to some other customer, but did not take responsibility for doing so. The staffer insisted that someone had “taken” our food by mistake.
In my past experience with the restaurant, food is not there for the taking. Bags are given to customers who are holding the correctly numbered ticket.
They remake our order. So obviously we have to wait more. It was a school night, and the kid was already tired and hungry. When the fries came out, they were not up to the usual standards.
It appears as if their fry cutting machine is broken, because there was a high proportion of steak fries (double the width of regular fries). http://bit.ly/5GuysSteakFries
Ultimately they were apologetic and delivered a $5 gift card to the table. It was a nice gesture.
But this experience was very upsetting for me. Ultimately what keeps In-N-Out burger on top is its tight control of all its stores. Your food is better.
Do not let lagging stores slip through the cracks and tarnish your sterling brand. This experience was completely unacceptable. If this is how the restaurant performs when things are slow, I shudder to think what its like when it’s busy.
On the matter of food quality, has the restaurant changed its rolls in the past year? The ones today seemed a lot breadier and not as rich and dense as I remember. Or could there be variation in those from store to store?
Honestly, no store in Schenectady would be better than this store. At least as it was tonight.
I really thought you should know.