Saturday, December 3, 2011

No Bravos for this Breakfast

Mel and I just returned from a Santa Breakfast; an annual ritual for us. This year, instead of our usual park district site, we opted to try Bravo restaurant in Glenview. The buffet breakfast was slated for 8:30-10:30 a.m. Mel made our reservations for 9:30 a.m.

Given, this was Bravo's first year staging this event. However, a restaurant would - I think - be well-versed in areas like customer flow, how to manage food preparation, food serving, seating/spacing and securing sufficient waitstaff. Sadly, Bravo performed dismally, making for a sour experience. As a server led us to a table, he warned us it was packed and space was pretty tight in the dining area. He wasn't kidding. An apt description of the scene is a word beginning with "cluster..."

Only one buffet serving area, for what turned out to be way too many people. We were seated next to the buffet: a mixed blessing. True, we were close and could get in line quickly. But we were also within inches of people lined up, awaiting refills of food. And once refilled, they ran out of food dishes almost immediately. Kitchen servers did their best trying to rush the food out, but simply couldn't keep up with the hungry hordes. (Doesn't this place regularly serve brunches and buffets?)

And there was only one very harried waiter assigned to our whole section. The girls wanted juice and the only apparent way to get some was to do what I did: corner the guy at a register and ask. I gestured to our table and said we'd all like some orange juice. He subsequently brought two goblets of OJ, for Mel and me. Where's the juice sippy cups for the kids?

Eventually we - more or less - got our fill of food. I actually ate some bacon waiting in the buffet line; bad manners on my part, but no more so than the people who took five slices of French toast. Mel spotted kids with gingerbread cookies, and asked our waiter about them. He brought the girls cookies, and told us of a cookie decorating station around the corner. (A nice touch, but I'd rethink the red and green gooey frosting in an event where pictures are taken).

The girls did get a picture with Santa, which was the one bright spot. There, however, was no coordinated effort for this... everyone just wandered over at will. Bravo may want to organize this part in the future.

The coup de grace? When I noticed a flyer for the breakfast, which included mention of a "Holiday Treat Bag." I brought it to a manager at the desk, who responded by handing me some coupons for a free kids meal. Yes, he seriously did. Alas, we won't be using them.

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