Friday, June 17, 2011

Jersey's Cafe - Not Worth the Wait

Jersey’s Café – Not Worth the Wait
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
June 17, 2011

As a native of New Jersey, if you are thinking of dining out at Jersey’s Café in Carmel, I say, “fugetabout it.”

Hearing high praise about the small restaurant on North Meridian Street, I went last weekend for a slice of the Garden State and opted for take-out. While cognizant of the hour-plus wait for food, according to a sign on the door, there was no sign indicating one needn’t wait in line to place a to-go order. With only two groups of four in front of me, it was still a half hour before reaching the counter.

Upon reaching the counter, I had a menu-related question and the person to whom I was addressing walked away in mid-question, as did the next person. The reputation of the lousy Jersey attitude is most pervasive in this establishment and a good reason why I no longer live in NJ.

I eventually placed an order for a meatball sub and requested in simple, plain English that there not be any peppers in my meal. I was informed my wait time would be an hour and fifteen minutes.

I returned a few minutes prior to my food being ready so it wouldn’t sit waiting for me. Getting home in roughly 10 minutes, I opened my container to find three meatballs surrounded by sauce chock full of peppers atop the soggiest bread possible. The three meatballs were hard as rocks and dry as a bone, sauce notwithstanding – a virtually inedible meal.

Too tired to return that night, two days later, with receipt in tow, I spoke with Donna, a manager and explained my miserable experience. I specifically asked to speak with her away from the counter so our conversation would not be overheard. Donna took a defensive posture, telling me there have never been any complaints about the food or the service. ( has at least eight complaint stories lodged since April alone.)

Donna then said she wished there were something she could do for me. I said, there is, but you have chosen not to. As a manager, she could have done virtually anything to satisfy an unhappy customer – refund my money, offer me a fresh sandwich gratis, offer me a coupon/gift card for a future visit, etc.

She then said something that made me laugh – that she hoped I would come back again.

Not only will I not return to Jersey’s Café, but I hope this column will forewarn unsuspecting restaurant patrons to steer clear of an establishment that does not believe in customer service, does not believe the customer is right, cannot get orders correct or provide decent food.

Jersey’s Café is playing on their reputation that was enhanced by Guy Fieri on his Food Network program Diner, Drive-ins & Dives. To paraphrase Andy Warhol, for Jersey’s Café, their 15 minutes is over.  

Sanford D. Horn is an educator and writer living in Westfield, IN.

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