By Jonathan Shikes
By Alex Brown
By Cafe Society
By Samantha Alviani
By Lori Midson
By Mark Antonation
By Loren Lorenzo
By Nate Hemmert
Whatever happened to customer service? Bars don't have Guinness on tap. I get soggy fries at McDonald's. If I'm out eating with five other people, the restaurant assumes that group-think has ruined our math skills and tacks a 15 percent tip on the tab even though we probably would have tipped at least 20 percent. And if Taco Bell lets me drive off again without my drink after ordering $8 worth of food (which equates to ten pounds of grease) because I'm hung over and oblivious and still too drunk to drive, I'm going to scream.
The problem isn't limited to restaurants. At any store in any mall, you wait fifteen minutes before a clerk will grant you the privilege of spending a couple hundred dollars in that store. And that doesn't include the time it takes to flag down someone who can point you to where they keep the $100-and-over jeans locked under glass so an idiot like yourself doesn't spill coffee on them, because you obviously eat with your toes and live in a "manufactured" home if those are the clothes you have the audacity to wear in public. When they finally ring up your purchase, they look at you like you're handing them a rotten meatloaf to wrap up, instead of clothes that must be made of spun gold to cost as much as they do.
The exception to the rule: Mel's Restaurant and Bar (235 Fillmore Street). Not only does Mel's believe in customer service, but it believes in sometimes serving the customer way later than its posted hours. A few days ago, our group was going through Cuba Libres at a rate of ten per minute, and Mel's was nice enough to stay open so that we could power through a few dozen more. Not that Mel's had any reason to accommodate us. We'd started our day at a respectable hour -- 7 a.m. -- on the golf course and indulged in a Breakfast of Champions that included all the basic food groups: tomato juice, Worcestershire, horseradish sauce and house vodka. By the turn, the new Institute of Drinking Studies' Researcher Who Joins Us as Often as Family and Conscience Allow was shrieking at the top of his lungs at a gentleman who accused him of doing exactly what he was doing in the bushes. Divot size obviously increased throughout the day.
By evening, we were ready to head to a nice, low-key establishment -- quiet enough that you can have a conversation at your table or even with the table three down from you without having to raise your voice above a bellow -- and Mel's was the obvious destination. Mel's is usually a pre-lubrication-phase bar: It's Cherry Creek neighborly and subdued and serves good food for people who haven't been drinking all day (the chef's talents would have been wasted on us this night). In the friendly front bar area, there's a wall display that's the envy of every aspiring alcoholic who wishes someday to have a bar in his basement with even half the bottles that Mel's has stacked there.
We did our best to empty them all. And in a nod to public safety, Mel's recognized that it was better to keep our overserved group in one place than to let us run wild in the streets. Or it may have been that we had at least two $400 tabs running. In either case, we were having a good time, were still mostly clothed, were spending a ton of money and remaining polite despite all odds, so Mel's stayed open for us -- earning our definite return business and unending gratitude. (Except that mine only lasted until Saturday morning, when I woke up and put my hand down the garbage disposal in the hope of making something hurt worse than my head.)
Mel's, we salute your emphasis on customer service. We should encourage this sort of business behavior wherever we spend our money, however frivolously.