I was initially attracted to Faustina for a couple of reasons. 1-It had been a while since dining there, 2- I was very interested to see how the “Everything on the lunch menu is $12″ played out. Their gimmick worked on me!
I arrived at Faustina and love that they do have accessible off street parking on the southeast side off the building. However, that was the speediest thing about the experience: finding parking.
We arrived at the hostess stand and were not greeted for over 5 minutes. 5 minutes is an eternity in restaurant minutes. No “hi”, no “We’ll be right with you” or NOTHING. I did, however, have time to observe the unfolded napkins on the bar and the general pre-shift “mess” left by the servers for all guests to see. Really? Who is asleep at that wheel? Finally, a server came out, with a look of surprise that we were there, and said they would be right with us. Almost 7 plus minutes later, we were properly greeted and taken to a table.
Close to another five minutes later, a different server approached us to take our drink order. Although he was friendly, no explanation of the menu or attempts to point out menu highlights were made. Although not a huge downer for me, I’m sure the owner/operators would have been less than thrilled. The drinks took far too long and then the food order finally went in. During lunch, what is the proper turn around time from the time you get an order in to the time it is at your table? I know dinner time, kitchens generally have 20 minute “ticket times”, however lunch? 20 minute ticket times are far too long with people on crunch times with limited time to spend dining out.
When the food finally arrived, it was tasty! I had the grilled vegetable panini containing vegetables (obvious), an aioli, provolone cheese and served on a wheat berry bread. Although the aioli was a little strong (very ‘garlicky’), everything tied pretty well together. I dare say it was worth the wait. I ordered my entrée with a sweet potato chips side. They were tasty but WAY TOO GREASY. Yes, I do realize chips are greasy, but these *glistened*. I will definitely be ordering the side salad instead in the future.
Although I loved my sandwich, the server or establishment never knew it. I was never asked how my meal was or had a refill on either my water or my diet coke. I even noticed a table of 4 ladies get up and grab their own water refills. I was embarrassed for Faustina. The couple next to me looked irritated that their meal was taking so long. The same couple had their water when I sat down and no menus. That leads me to believe their order was in. However, their food arrived after mine. They had every right and reason to be irritated if this was true.
I truly believe that bad service will lose business faster than bad food. People have a very low tolerance for poor service, whether it be directly the servers’ fault or the establishment’s. In this case, it may have been a healthy combination of both. Faustina needs to staff better, no excuses. A hostess during lunch and an extra server are imperative. Both hostess’ and servers are, generally, paid minimum, if not less, as they are also running on tips. Therefore, I do not understand the excuse of not being properly staffed in restaurants in the LEAST. What could the servers have done to make the experience better even when challenged? More eye contact and simple greetings. Do not avoid your disgruntled guests. Simple recognition of their existence goes a long way. The more you walk right by them, the more pissed they will be. Explain your situation, “Hi folks, welcome to Faustina. We are a little understaffed at the moment but I will be with you as soon as possible. The Vegetable Panini is one of my favorites and comes with either sweet potato chips or salad. I will be right back (said with a smile).” You would be amazed how far this goes and how it takes seconds to disarm a guest and take them from disgruntled and mad to sympathetic and understanding.
A plus is that the lunches include dessert for the $12 price tag. However, I was afraid it would extend my already daunting, long lunch experience into the realm of tortuously long. Therefore I turned it down.
Food: Great flavors and great balance overall, sweet potatoe chips WAY TO GREASY. Dessert? Don’t know, I chose not to stay.
Service: Slow, SLOW, SLOW…did I mention slow? No attention to detail. Do you really even care how your customer’s experience was? I’m sure you do, but today it did not show.
Will I go back? Yes, but only to try the food at a time when I think they should be slow enough to offer mediocre service, at the very least.
Only dine here if you’re not in a hurry. That is one certainty.