Last weekend I booked a table at a new restaurant and got there early so that I could check out the bar. I asked for the cocktail menu and ordered a Rusty Nail from the bartender. He happily took my order, then took another woman's order and got her beer (hey, it happens, no big deal) before he moved on to make my drink. But a few minutes later, he returned to tell me that the bar wasn't completely stocked yet and he couldn't make the drink I'd ordered.
Hey, it happens.
I asked for another drink, which the bartender was unable to make because it was a hot drink and the bar didn't yet have its espresso maker. So I went with a backup choice, a house marg, and it was undrinkable. Not only undrinkable, but it tasted like vomit.
Turns out, no one responsible for the bar had actually tried this house marg.
Although the restaurant had opened its doors eleven days earlier, the bartender then explained that it was in the midst of a soft opening and wasn't really "open open" -- but softly open. We weren't paying soft prices, though. And I'd made my dinner reservation on OpenTable -- which would seem a pretty good clue that a restaurant is open.
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It wasn't long before the GM came to the bar to talk to me. I asked if he'd tasted the barfalicious drink the bar was featuring; neither he nor the bartender had. To me, this was inexcusable, no matter what level of open a place is claiming. Fortunately, they replaced my drink with a glass of wine (I didn't trust anything being mixed behind the bar).
I then explained that I would not be dining there that evening, and would not be back for dinner as long as the place was still softly open. How long would that be? "One month," the GM replied.
Clearly, this place was not ready for prime time. So my question is this: When a restaurant is on OpenTable, should it be open open for business -- or can it subject customers to a dress rehearsal?