Time to go to the island! Hanlan’s Point on the island to be specific. It’s such a great place to shed the layers and soak up the sun. When I first moved to Toronto in 2005, I would head over to the island several times throughout the Summer months but schedules being what they are, I usually get one trip at best. It’s an inexpensive day. The ferry only costing around six bucks and you don’t need to take much with you. In fact this sunny cove doesn’t require anything at all.
People come from all over the globe to this lovely nook of Toronto to shed their inhabitations and their clothing! Clothing optional beaches are rare in these parts so I feel supporting it with my annual visit, my Torontonian duty! Plus who needs those dreaded tan lines? Look out! I’m about to “Free Willy!” After spending a fabulous day under that dangerously gorgeous sun and great camaraderie with my mates, it’s time to find the next hot spot. This time to fulfill another basic need, consumption.
We decided to stop by one of our favourite pubs “The Church Mouse and Firkin” on Church St. The three of us now fully clothed made our way onto the outdoor patio. There wasn’t a sign, wait to be seated, so we headed to an empty spot. What better way to show off our fabulous sun kissed glow? Collectively, we have been coming here for over thirty years. Wow, how the time fly’s.
A really nice hostess asked us if we could wait at the front so she could wipe off the available tables. Of course we didn’t mind and back to our starting position we went. We were expecting a fourth anyway so we waited for him there. In moments he had arrived and we were off to a table. The hostess said for us to help ourselves, so we did.
We chose a table right at the front. We love watching the street side view. Unfortunately there were only two table choices. A two seater and a spot with three chairs. We asked the guest beside us if he needed his second chair and he graciously gave us the seat.
As we settled in as our newly arrived fourth began to share his latest date details with us. I needed to get to the more pressing questions so I asked “Did you do it?” he ignored me with a smile and the other guys giggled along with me.
Then it happened! “The next time you want to add a chair to your table get permission!” The scolding voice came from overhead. The four of us looked up, shocked. “This table is for three people only.” “You are not allowed to sit here!” She sneered.
Her tone was angry and uninviting. Still shocked we began to explain that we were told by the hostess to help ourselves. She cut us off and said “Get permission next time. You are not allowed to sit here.” She spoke to us like bad little children. We were looking at one another and feeling embarrassed and humiliated. Not to mention the other guests were noticeably bothered or enjoying the show. “What do you want to drink?” She continued.
I whispered to my partner who was one guest at the table. “I’m not sure I want to drink now after being scolded like a child.”
She glared at me and said “You don’t have to be rude!”
I wasn’t being rude. I was stating how I felt. Which didn’t seem to make any difference to her so I replied. “I’m not speaking to you and you have no right to speak to any of us this way. It was an honest mistake and the hostess told us to come over here and help ourselves.” I then ordered a Ceaser. The others followed suit and gave the server their drink orders.
Wow that was horrific! The worst moment in a restaurant, ever. People were looking at us and our choice for front and center table was now a grievous mistake. We decided to put the moment behind us and get on with discussing our friends date and waiting for our drinks… and wait and wait and wait. About fifteen minutes had passed when….
“Is there a problem gentlemen?” Said another voice from above. It was a young man dressed in a suit. We all sort of replied no and smiled and tried to continue our conversation. “This is not what I was told.” He continued. We waited for him to explain but nothing.
Rob, good friend of mine also at the table began to explain what had happened and how the server handled us and the situation. He didn’t care at all. He interrupted my friend, who is not your confrontational kind of guy. He, in fact, avoids awkward situations like this at all costs. For him to speak up and try to explain the situation must have meant he was also feeling humiliated.
“You have made the server uncomfortable and she will not be serving you tonight.” He continued.
We were shocked but we were happy to know we would be getting served by someone, hopefully, that handled themselves with professionalism.
“You don’t understand. There is no one here to serve you tonight.” He explained.
My friend spoke up as we all looked in shocked at one another. “I have been coming here for over twenty years and never have I or guests that I have brought ever been treated like this. I would like to speak to the manager.” He was so upset.
“I am the manager.” These are the last four words anyone wants to hear when you are experiencing the most humiliating treatment of your life. “You will have to leave.” He stated.
We were beside ourselves in shock. Our fourth simply looked at us all and said “Well I guess we better go.” It was truly unbelievable that this was happening to us. It was as though we had sat down naked at the table and got refused service. My partner commented, that it was amazing that in an economy such as the one we are living to kick out perfectly good paying patrons like us was absurd. I had to agree. I could not imagine this situation ever needing to happen. We sat in the wrong spot. We responded to ignorant service. Waited for drinks and then got kicked out! I still can’t get my head around what happened.
My friend Rob continued to speak to the manager as we made our way off the patio. Everyone looking at us. It was horrifically humiliating. We decided to go across the street to O’Grady’s where we had attended an Oscar party earlier in the year. We told our server what had happened and he could not believe it. We received stellar service there.
Never in all my life have I experienced this type of treatment in any restaurant I have been to. The whole situation could have been avoided and the options to fix up a simple seating misunderstanding were endless. Why the server spoke to us this way I will never understand. Why the manager refused to hear our side of things will always leave me wondering why but one thing is for sure, we will never spend another dime at the Church mouse and Firkin on Church St. again.
Church Mouse and Firkin
0 kisses out of 5
PS: Since this humiliating experience my friend has written to the CEO of The Firkin to share his experience of that evening. To date he has not received a response from his letter.
Bruce in the City!