Cookeville restaurant is no worse than anywhere else, but the steaks are less than what they say
By Consumer XCOOKEVILLE, Tenn. [Jan. 10, 2000] - Folks in Putnam County, Tenn., like to minimize the degree of political corruption locally by pointing out that "it's no worse here than anyplace else."
of The Putnam Pit staff
The onslaught of corporate ethics and techniques in the food and lodging industries have given us ample examples of how reduced expectations have moved from the political arena to the food and lodging industries, where the profit motive has replaced a sense of value in the Bible Belt. And this is because folks here are too polite -- or too scared -- to demand what they have coming. Maybe they're waiting for Judgment Day to get back what they've overpaid.
Putnam Pit Systems Editor Mike Hodges and I stopped for dinner last night at Chili's Grill & Bar, 1428 Interstate Dr., Cookeville, TN 38501-4123.
We both ordered a flame grilled ribeye steak. The menu says "12 oz. ribeye steak seasoned w/herbs."
Hodges and I ordered the same meal, both prepared medium rare. But when they arrived his was bigger than mine and they were both small. Where I come from, 12 ounces is the same no matter whose plate it's on, but clearly one of these steaks was bigger than the other, yet neither was 12 ounces.
Only one way to resolve this - call for a scale, which we did.
Jeff, one of the managing partners at the Cookeville restaurant, promptly provided us with a scale, and lo and behold, my steak weighed only 8.5 ounces. That's like asking for change for a dollar and getting 70 cents. He explained that meat loses weight when it is cooked. By that standard, when you order a bowl of rice you should get two, and a glass of Coca Cola should be measured before the ice is put in. Imagine ordering a glass of beer, getting half foam and being told that's what happens when it's poured. Jeff was quick to offer to take off $6 - more than half the price of the steak, but he missed the point.
We were happy to pay for what we ate, but we also thought the establishment should serve everyone what they expected when they ordered.
But what about Hodges' steak? Doesn't he get half off his? And what about the others who paid for 12 ounces but only got 8.5? Would they get a refund, too? Would Chili's start either serving 12 full ounces or printing the actual weight of the meat when it is served?
No, of course not. He ended up picking up our entire tab, but that still was not the issue. Maybe he thinks he only has to act correctly when he's challenged, much like Cookeville government violates first amendment rights until they are sued. With restaurants, like government, they give you what you'll settle for.
I recently ate at the Sheraton Music City when a similar rip-off occurred.
I ordered a 14-ounce steak and a small salad, which should have cost about $23. But the steak weighed only 10.5 ounces, according to their own scale. It was supposed to be a ribeye but they grilled a very thin prime rib. I had my dog waiting in my room and could not wait for them to cook a new steak. I agreed to have them send the new steak to my room.
It came 20 minutes later, with a bill for about $39 - the price of a steak from the room service menu, a charge of $9 for my $3 salad, plus room delivery charge, tax and gratuity. Not only was I cheated with a undersized steak the first time, I was overcharged and penalized when the establishment sought to "make it good."
At the Sheraton, where a year ago they removed and lost some clothing from Pit editor Geoff Davidian's room, they don't attempt to please you. They've decided that since they simply cannot provide adequate service they ask Davidian to not return. Now that's a brilliant response. The manager said he hoped Davidian had better luck with his competition. He can rest assured that the Sheraton Music City is no worse than Chili's or Comfort Suites.
But what he seems to be saying is: If you want four quarters for your dollar, get your change somewhere else.