We enjoy an occasional meal at a Hungry Horse pub/restaurant and have visited our local branch (The Star, Gillingham) several times. So when we decided to pop out for an evening, we headed there again.
On entering the bar it appeared quite empty, but as we wandered round in search of a table, it became apparent that all the empty ones were displaying ‘reserved’ signs.
Speaking to a member of staff about the possibility of a table, we were met with a most unhelpful response – in fact, his attitude indicated that he couldn’t really be bothered and didn’t actually want to speak to us! In answer to the question, “Is there a table available?” he shrugged, “ You just have to look.”
However, we were observed by an off-duty member of staff, who gave the impression of being the only person who actually wanted to help us, but who was sadly not supported by his colleagues. He reasoned that some of the reservations were for later in the evening, meaning that we could use one for an early meal. Unfortunately this suggestion was thwarted by a waitress who maintained that all the many reserved tables were booked for exactly the same time. That was a bit hard to believe.
Feeling very unwelcome and a bit dejected, we decided to head to the next nearest branch (Poacher’s Pocket, Chatham), which we had never visited before.
On arrival we were met by a much busier scene, with most tables actually in use and only a couple of empty table marked as ‘reserved’. We were thinking of giving up and going home, when a cheery waitress greeted us and asked how many we needed a table for. To our answer of ‘three’, she located a couple of small tables and put them together to accommodate us. It appeared that the level of helpfulness at this branch was 100% better than we’d received at The Star.
And so the evening continued. All the staff were cheerful and helpful, checking on us regularly and making us feel welcome. The food was lovely and what had actually looked like being a disastrous evening, ended up being thoroughly enjoyable.
It’s worth remembering that whilst all the branches of any one pub/restaurant chain may offer the same menu, the quality of food and the level of service received can vary enormously.
No prizes for guessing which Hungry Horse will be our restaurant of choice from now on!
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