Tuesday, June 21, 2011


One of our favorite restaurants to go to for lunch after church used to be Chipotle. When we lived in Fresno we would go frequently with the Portelas. Obviously we missed this restaurant when we moved to SC, so we were thrilled when one of our favorites opened on Harbison Blvd.

We've been several times, however I've noticed a trend that I don't care for. Every time I wait in line to get my food I watch as the people in front of me give their order, and when things don't look just right, the food is thrown away and the server starts over.

Last time we went, the waste was extraordinary. First of all, the lady in front of me asked for three steak tacos. Apparently the server thought she meant three orders of steak tacos. There are three tacos in an order, so the server began steaming tortillas for nine total. The customer quickly realized the miscommunication and explained it to the server, who promptly threw the extra six tortillas in the garbage. Then the customer asked for one with rice and beans. The server thought she meant one with beans, and another with rice, but no. The customer wanted one with rice AND beans, and the others with none. This resulted in adding beans to the one with rice, and throwing yet another tortilla (this one with steak too) in the garbage.

Then we began our order. My mother in law said that she wanted black beans, the server added pinto. Another burrito in the trash. I asked for two burrito bowls. The server steamed two tortillas, and then upon realizing her own mistake, threw both tortillas in the trash.

But the real clincher was with the kids' orders. I ordered quesadillas for the kids, with Emily's being a full kid's meal, complete with a side of both rice and beans. I watched as the server wasn't pleased with cheese the oozed out of the foil during the heating process (she threw these away) and then when adding the rice and beans to the kids plate, she didn't like the way the beans overflowed in to the next compartment of the disposable tray, so she threw the entire thing away and started again.

Now I realize that in the restaurant business you give the customer what they want and yearn for complete satisfaction and yada yada yada. But really? I was shocked at the waste.

Scott's class went on this awesome trip to a camp north of here. There are many things that he shared he loved about this camp, but one of the big things was the kids are taught not to waste anything. The camp emphasizes making meals without waste and the kids are expected to take only what they will eat, and the group strives to complete a meal without waste.

I could only wonder what these kids would have said in this situation. I wish I could have known what an appropriate thing would be to say, however I sat their silent. Bummer.


Adam said...

I'd send your story to the corporate office. They won't like that sort of waste one bit. Clearly some more training needs to be done at that location.

Meesh Hays said...

Yeah, I hate that. When one of our special order children gets a sandwich out in public that they won't eat due to contaminating toppings, I am always hesitant to give it back to the people because they throw it away before making another one like I ordered it to start with. UGH. Why can't I keep the "bad" one and get the replacement, too? At least someone will have eaten it...

I think this speaks, also, to our society's failure to communicate, to listen carefully to each other, to ask for clarification. I wonder if the Chipotle person had just said, "Wow, this quesadilla is a mess, would you like for me to make you another one?" if things might have been different. What if they had asked the lady, "Do you mean three tacos or three orders of three tacos?" Or couldn't they have offered you or the next person in lone some free tortillas they inadvertently prepared? That's the sort of thing that would send me back to a restaurant!

Emily Whitecotton said...

What an interesting lens choice. If its okay with you, I might borrow it for a while and see what I find. I was thinking today about how much I recycle and how much I throw away. Even though I recycle some, it still does not compare to what I throw away in a given week. I would really like to see what the corporate office says about this. If this really is policy (to throw away anything that looks even remotely sketch), then they are losing a great deal of money. I wonder how this compares to other restaurants... Last week I was out with friends and a pizza got sent back because it did not look completely cooked. A totally new pizza came back and they covered our whole order. The entire table's food was free. At the time, I thought it was wonderful. Now that I know that pizza was probably tossed, I'm realizing that that is a lot of money wasted too.