All Hostesses are Good-Looking, Incompetent and Can’t Do Anything Else in Life. Really?
By: Patrick Maguire
Book Chapter: Customer Hall of Shame
So wrong, on so many levels.
I started paying attention to the Phantom Gourmet after they asked me to appear on their TV show representing restaurant servers during a ‘food fight’ segment pitting servers against chefs. The morning after I agreed to appear, I sent an email to the senior producer (who booked me) asking if Phantom Gourmet had made a decision about their affiliation with The Upper Crust Pizzeria, a major sponsor embroiled in a controversy involving their exploitation of undocumented workers. Pending allegations against the owner of Upper Crust include a threat to kill a former veteran manager.
If Phantom Gourmet had plans to sever their relationship with Upper Crust, I was going to honor with my commitment. There was no response to my email so I left a voicemail and a second email the next day. No response. In all fairness, it was Christmas week, but I did not receive an auto-response email stating that the producer was on vacation, and his outgoing voicemail message didn’t state that he was out of the office.
The next day I watched the Phantom Gourmet TV program and confirmed that they were still running Upper Crust ads. A day later they unabashedly promoted Upper Crust on facebook. That endorsement solidified their position, and was enough for me to withdraw from the TV show via email. I never received a response from the producer.
For those of you unfamiliar with Phantom Gourmet, they are a Boston-based company that features weekly radio and TV shows devoted to food, restaurants and dining out. The company is owned by the Andelman brothers, Dan, Dave and Mike. Their mystique (shtick is more accurate) is centered around an anonymous restaurant critic (the Phantom) whose reviews appear on their program.
Their shows are largely infomercials for their sponsors laced with more inane banter than I can stomach. Though it is widely known that their singular ‘phantom’ critic is a myth (several people gather research), they have a widespread following of fawning ‘Phans’ (cringe) chugging their purple Kool-Aid. Ironically, they often mock and insult their own audience as well as the people who attend and work at their events.
Their motto: Food and Fun is all we serve.
Yeah, with a side of extra cheese…
I tuned in to a few of the Phantom Gourmet programs, only to see if they responded to the widespread media coverage surrounding the Upper Crust imbroglio. As far as I know, they have not publicly responded to any of the stories questioning their support of Upper Crust, including those published in the Boston Phoenix, Adam’s Hospitality & Tourism Blog, Universal HUB, Grub Street Boston, Yelp, Dave Copeland’s blog and this blog.
One exception was a facebook post by Dave Andelman quoted on Dave Copeland’s blog:
Dave Andelman: Some blogs and real media companies tried taking some unfair, untrue, and obviously coordinated shots at Phantom Gourmet last week. We immediately added 500 Facebook Phans and dominated the TV ratings. They never learn….
Dominated the TV ratings? Opposite what competition?
Copeland’s blog also quotes several comments from rabid Phantom ‘Phans’ followed by another flame-fanning (or is it ‘phanning’?), lame, cheerleading comment from Dave:
Dave Andelman: Purple power, people. Thanks ya’ll.
Purple power? Really? Lemming power is more like it.
Fast-forward to the Phantom Gourmet radio program on Saturday, 2/12. The infamous Phantom Gourmet radio program is one of the most painful media programs I have ever endured. The inane, vapid banter between the 3 brothers is punctuated by Dan Andelman’s incessant, maniacle, hyena-like laughter that is torture to tolerate.
Saturday’s program started with a story about Mike and Eddie Andelman going to dinner before the Celtics-Lakers game. Eddie, the sportscaster patriarch of the family, was filling in for Dave who was on vacation. Michael mentioned that they chose Grill 23 for dinner and arrived at 5:05.
When you ask Bostonians about the best steak houses in town, Grill 23 is often their number one choice. The food and service are consistently excellent.
The Grill 23 website states the following:
Monday-Thursday 5:30pm to 10:30pm
Bar opens daily at 4:30pm
For the record: There are 2 bars for customers to wait in before dinner service starts at 5:30. The first floor bar area has nineteen stools and the second floor bar has ten stools.
Mike and Eddie wanted to be seated in the dining room as soon as they arrived in order to get to the Celtics game on time at 8 o’clock. The hostess informed them that the bar was open, but the dining room didn’t open until 5:30. Apparently, there were no barstools open so Mike and Eddie suggested that they get a drink from the bar and sit at a table in the dining room and wait until 5:30 for dinner service. The hostess informed them that she couldn’t seat them until 5:30. That wasn’t good enough.
Here are some quotes from the radio program:
Mike Andelman: We walk in and the hostess who’s the typical hot woman, rude, cold- as-ice, never would talk to me in high school-type girl…So she goes, “Two?”, and I said yes, and she looks at us and says, “I’m sorry, we’re not open until 5:30, so there’s nothing I can do.”
Dan Andelman: And what time was this at?
Eddie Andelman: It was about 5:10.
Mike: She said the bar over there, you can stand at the bar and have a drink.
Eddie: There’s no seats.
Dan: At the bar?
Eddie: At the bar. It’s crowded.
Mike: There’s like 20 people standing at the bar. There’s no room at the bar.
Dan: Great bar there, potato chips and everything.
Mike: Great bar, but Eddie and I aren’t exactly going to saddle up to the bar and get hammered. We’re there for dinner. So she looks at us and says, “I can’t do anything for you,” and I said, Well can you just, and she turned her back on us and basically wouldn’t talk to us any more.
Dan: How did she look from the back?
Mike: And so Eddie and I said this is the most ridiculous, rude treatment we’ve ever gotten in a restaurant.
Eddie: Well I said to her, Is it all right if we sit down? There’s not one person. The tables are all set. Can we sit down there and have some drinks ‘till 5:30? And she said, “NO!”
Mike: Yeah, she says no, and so we basically, you know, under our breath say F-you, and we leave, and we walk across the street.
Dan: I don’t get it…, the restaurant was open, she just wouldn’t seat you?
Mike: No…, the dining room did not open until 5:30.
Eddie: They don’t serve until 5:30. We were willing to sit at a table and have some drinks until 5:30, even if we had to get some drinks from the bar and walk over to a table.
Dan: Yeah, but they weren’t open yet.
Michael: The restaurant was open. The bar was open. Every server was there. You think it was going to make a big deal if Eddie and I sat down…?
Dan: Michael, I’m being completely serious…They are not open until 5:30. What the hell…Why do you think you’re so special that you had to be seated?
Eddie: If there were seats at the bar we might have done it, but there’s tables 8 feet away from the bar that we could sit at.[The dining room tables are behind a half wall separating the bar from the dining room.]
Dan: Maybe the servers are all in their pre-meal meeting; maybe they’re eating; maybe they’re doing side work; maybe they’re cleaning, maybe they’re getting dressed…
Mike: Danny, the fact that you consistently take the side of the restaurateur or just a really stupid maître d’ or a hostess over your family time and time again, you just continually…(cut off).
Mike: The era is over of being able to treat customers like crap. It’s just over. I don’t understand.
Eddie: There’s 25 steakhouses in Boston.
Mike: And it’s not like this was 8pm on a Saturday night. It’s 5 o’clock, and guess what, if the owner of Grill 23 was standing next to this dumb hostess, this moronic hostess who was just getting her, uh, jollies off by sticking to the rules of her little brochure in a little binder, this little monkey, her only job is to look at this binder and say don’t let people in ‘till 5:30….
Dan: Although in her defense she was good-looking apparently. I’d like to see a picture. Was she wearing yoga pants? These are things I want to know. I have a thing for hostesses (laughing).
Mike: There’s not a hostess who’s not good-looking, because they’re incompetent and can’t do anything else in life. If you can’t model, when you’re good-looking enough and not tall enough to model, you stand behind a little box and say, How many?
(A few irrelevant comments have been omitted between quotes, including Eddie’s comment about not wearing underwear. Ouch.)
Saturday, 2/19 update: Please disregard everything from here down to “A few questions.” The audio has been removed from the 96.9 website. The fact that it was ever available after the show is mind-boggling. I have retained a recorded copy if anyone would like to hear it.
For context, the entire conversation from the broadcast (that I recorded for translation) can be heard here:
(The relevant content is the first 8 and a half minutes.)
Be patient, the site loads slowly.
Click on play to the right of: 2/12/11 Eddie and Mike go to a Celtics game.
I encourage everyone who will be commenting on this post to listen to the segment before commenting.
A few questions:
#1- How does a guy who makes his living around dining out and researching and discussing restaurants not understand why Grill 23 wouldn’t allow you to sit at a table before dinner service started?
Dan hit the nail on the head with his explanation. The dining room doesn’t open until 5:30. What if they let everyone who arrived early wander into the dining room and sit down? Once you make an exception or try to be flexible, people always want more. Before you know it, diners would start with, “Can we just look at a menu while we wait?”, “Is there any chance we could just get some bread?”, “Can we just get some water?” In other words, they’ll ask you to serve them before service starts.
And what happens when someone breaks a glass or spills their drink all over the table? More service is required when the service staff is busy learning the daily specials or working on a multitude of other tasks required to prepare the dining room for service.
Grill 23 has been in business since 1983. I’m sure they have experimented with their hours and policies over the years. On my list of 64 Suggestions for Restaurant Customers, number 23 reads, Respect the fact that restaurants have policies for specific reasons, despite the fact that they might not make sense to you.
Instead of thinking about that, you proceeded to leave the restaurant and then insult the hostess (and all hostesses), and trash the restaurant on your public radio program including the statement, “I will never spend another cent at Grill 23.” Your loss.
#2- How can the co-owner of Phantom Gourmet and VP of business development (you), rationalize the adjectives you used to describe the hostess at Grill 23? You referred to her as stupid, dumb, moronic and a monkey because you didn’t get your way.
#3- Did you ask to speak to a manager to explain their policy or to voice your concern about the rude service? No, but you didn’t hesitate to blast the restaurant on your radio show.
#4- How can you justify the sweeping generalization that you made about all hostesses when your business is all about promoting restaurants?
Referring to hostesses: “…they’re incompetent and can’t do anything else in life.” Really?
I’ll bet there are a few current and former hostesses who would take exception to that statement.
In a very entertaining and informative piece, one of Boston’s most knowledgeable food and drink writers, MC Slim JB, dubbed you (Mike) the “dumbest of the Dumb Brothers”. After listening to the first 10 minutes of Saturday’s program, you did nothing to prove MC wrong or to dispel that notion.
Current and Former Hostesses:
Please respond to Michael Andelman’s comments, and please forward this post to every current and former hostess you know.
Please feel free to clarify your policies and weigh in on all of the issues presented.
Restaurateurs and Restaurant Employees:
If you own or work at a fine-dining restaurant similar to Grill 23, please comment on the issue and policies of opening times of the bar and dining room.
What ‘shots’ were taken at Phantom Gourmet by blogs or ‘real media’ companies that were unfair or untrue?
Don’t feel obligated to respond. After all, this isn’t ‘real media’, it’s just a blog…
Please join the conversation. Despite the temptation, please keep the comments respectful and civil. As always, all comments will be moderated before they are posted.
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