.Of all the things to worry about in the world, I realize that the state of the bar scene in 2012 is a minor issue. I don’t really enjoy going to “clubs” anymore. I occasionally go to bars to hang out with friends or watch a football game. It’s a bar, not some twenty-something club where people who are trying to be something they are not pay huge cover charges to buy over-priced, watered-down liquor at the latest “in place.” Most of us outgrow that not too many years after we are old enough to drink.
So I am a bit baffled at the number of bars who think the marketing concept of “bottle sales” is good for business anywhere where repeat business is crucial to success. This whole concept of paying hundreds of dollars for an entire bottle or three of liquor just TO BE SEATED is ludicrous. If your club is a trendy tourist spot with new suckers shipped in every minute, in say Vegas or South Beach the “bottle service” concept may fly. Once. While on vacation.
Here in Atlanta, only the sorts of people who are label whores trying to prove they are wealthy (how tacky!) would ever agree to such a thing. Which brings me to the point of my rant. Peter Thomas opened a BAR with a RESTAURANT and decided that he would charge 15 dollars for a drink at the bar and require bottle service for every table in the place at night. Let’s see how that is working for him…
Recently on twitter I noticed that Peter, or Bar One or someone had posted a link to the House Rules of Bar One. The link takes you to their website where a list of TWENTY-THREE RULES are listed. I read them in my Big Momma voice. While most bars manage to list their house rules with the “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service” rule. Bar One has a veritable customer handbook. Here are some of the highlights:
- Reservations are strongly recommended. Parties of 10 or more may require catering. Call us directly to inquire about reservations and pricing 404.522.0999. No reservations are accepted after 930pm.
Am I the only one who thinks this is crazy? You have a restaurant with a “chef” but parties of 10 or more may have to be “catered”? Do you even know what catered means? We have to inquire about special pricing because there are ten people in our group? REALLY?
Don’t Get Too Comfortable
- ALL seated parties (reservations or wait-list) have a 2-hour (120 minute) time limit so that we can accommodate all guests. This limit may be waived at the sole discretion of management.
That’s right, you are allowed to spend precisely two hours at Bar One before you must shuffle off and find a place by the wall to stand or GTFO. Lovely. Let’s see how this is working for them at Bar One.
Bianca S. said on Yelp, “I would suggest taking food and a body guard when you visit “Bar One”.
The wait was endless and when we were finally seated and got our food…which tasted like something you pick of from “Sams Club” we were told by the “waitress” and I use the term loosely to “hurry up and eat, others are waiting to be seated” Seriously who the hell does that? What would make anyone think they could put a reputable establishment in the middle of crack town? I honestly thought my car may be stolen by one of the valet. FIRST, LAST and ONLY time I will make the mistake of going there.”
You May or May Not Get To Actually Eat
Steve T says. “Parking is $10? For what? And note to management, if you are going to have a TIME LIMIT on your guests sitting at their table try to not have them wait half that time for their meals.”
Freddie T, “My friend ordered food, but had to eat it standing up because her “time” on her table had run out (even though she didn’t get the food until 45 minutes after ordering). ”
Allison B. “The customer service i experienced at this restaurant was as bad as it gets. I went to bar ONE with a couple friends for a 7:30PM reservation. At 8:40PM before our food even arrived, we were told that we had to leave because there was a 1.5 hour maximum on each table and there was a 9PM reservation waiting for the table. So we left the restaurant hungry and very upset. I called the manager to make her aware of the situation and she explains how the restaurant has a time limit on the tables and they have to make money. In their efforts of trying to “make” money bar ONE is losing valuable, repeat customers. I will not be returning.
ABSOLUTELY NO separate dinner checks for parties of five or more. Please let your guests know this before they arrive so that you all can work it out before hand. Splitting the bill evenly always makes everyone’s life easier.
Are you kidding me here? You can’t make separate checks for parties of five or more? REALLY?
From an article in the local paper East Atlanta Patch, Sharon Hudson says:
He and his guest [It was her cousin’s birthday] arrived on time and were seated. I arrived a few minutes later and located him and was seated. Other guests — around 15 people total — filed in and our enjoyable night began. Justin was our server throughout.
Guests ordered their own individual food and drink items, and several of us had multiple drinks. People also ordered drinks specifically for my cousin in honor of his birthday. My cousin ordered food, drink, a bottle of wine and a round of Patron shots for his guests.
Sitting Down is Very Expensive!
Justin came over and started handing out individual checks. I took this as an affront, specifically asking Justin if we were being asked to leave for some reason. It was then he said that we were only allowed to stay for 2 hours and we had been there in excess of that time. I asked him if we were allowed to order more food and drink if we could stay, and he again reiterated the 2-hour time limit. It was at this point I asked to speak with a manager.
- After 10pm on weekends (F-Sun) bottle service is required for seating in the lounge.
Which brings us to this part of her story….
Justin came back to us and said that the manager said that was policy and that if we wanted to stay we had to buy a bottle of liquor. I inquired as to the cost and was told it was $275. I told him that I would appreciate the manager coming to talk to me personally, but whatever it took for the evening to not be further disrupted, I would accommodate.
All of the guests paid their individual bills at that time, including myself. We weren’t ready for the evening to end. Again it should be noted that we were not disruptive, ill behaved, rude or displaying any other behavior that would be considered inappropriate or worthy of removal from the establishment.
WE WILL NOT HESITATE TO THROW YOU OUT!
The manager finally came to me (I thought it odd she was escorted by what I can only assume to be security. I asked her why we were being asked to leave and to explain the policy she wanted Justin to explain. She told me that in order to accommodate all of the guests of the establishment, even those who walked in and didn’t make reservations, the tables had a 2-hour limit unless we agreed to purchase a bottle of liquor.
I asked her why that wasn’t explained to me when I called and why it wasn’t explained to my cousin when he called. The only choice I had was to purchase a bottle of liquor so that is what I did. From that point on, my evening was ruined, but I didn’t want it to be for the other people, especially the man celebrating his birthday. At this point the evening could have quickly turned to 15 disgruntled people rather than just one.
- TIP our servers and bartenders please. These young women and men work very hard providing you the best service possible whether it is a $10 check or $400 check, please tip accordingly.
- Like many establishments, we reserve the right to add automatic gratuity to parties dependent on size. bar ONE adds 15% gratuity to checks for parties of 3-10 and 18% to larger parties.
Sharon’s story continues, “Not to mention I was deeply disturbed that a gratuity was added on to the purchase of the bottle, for $49.50 bringing the combined total for one bottle of liquor to the exorbitant price of $324.50. Certainly none of this was Justin’s fault, I suppose he was just following policy. I pride myself in being a tipper – I reward good service wherever it is presented and I’ve always tipped at least the requisite 15 percent.
Because I am a “number’s cruncher,” I don’t need the assistance of my tip being added to my bill prior to payment. I do feel however that in this case, the tip was unwarranted, especially when the receipt itself indicated 1 seat. To me, this is further proof Bar One isn’t encouraging of my return, or any of my friends and family. You don’t feel as if we are intelligent enough to make wise decisions with our money and with our time and effort.
Or maybe you assumed that we would be too inebriated to be concerned with expense. Make no mistake; I only complied with the policy to make my cousin’s night enjoyable. His guests didn’t know of this conversation or of my feelings of great disappointment.”
EVEN FOR “FREE PARKING!”
That’s just a sampling of he complaints all over the Internet. Despite the “free valet parking” apparently one pays a $10 required tip to the valet. One has to wait for the valet at times. This wait is deducted from your table time even if you arrive on time for your reservation. The list goes on.
Suffice it to say, I don’t think Peter is making money on this latest enterprise. I imagine the whole place will be shut down within a year. Would you still go if you came to Atlanta just for the experience? There is a viewing party every Sunday night where, if you can get a table during the show, you can experience both overpriced liquor and poor service. In addition you are provided the entertainment of being in the same room with Peter and Cynthia while the TV shows the unsettling “reality” of their “marriage.” Are you in?