There are so many advantages to buying local. So, whenever I visit a local establishment or attend a local event, I'm writing an article for it in the back of my mind. Unfortunately, the last two potential reviews have been... less than flattering. Twice now I've hit the town with the goal of having a fun, relaxing time, but instead got aggravation and stress.
I've decided to post my reviews anyway. Commence rant.
River City Winery
First was a visit to River City Winery. The beautiful building just beckons passers-by to wander inside, where the decor promises casual elegance. And if it weren't for that dag-blasted flat-screen television above the bar sullying the ambiance, it would almost feel like you've stepped into a place that exists outside of time and space.
So, my husband and I went there for a nice dinner. We walked in and stood there a minute. We weren't greeted or acknowledged, and there was no hostess stand or sign, so we figured it was a seat-yourself establishment. We took a seat. And waited.
Finally someone came by. Someone who turned out to be a rather absent waiter (surprised?). We each had a wine sampler, which was fun. We eventually had to snag our waiter to TELL him we wanted to order food. He never asked. Then we waited.
Finally, my lobster ravioli came out - before my husband's salad had even arrived. Alas, the ravioli wasn't even remotely hot, and our waiter was once again absent. I was hungry, so I took a bite.
It was surprisingly quite delicious. Fabulous, actually. After one taste, you couldn't have pried that lukewarm ravioli out of my hands without consenting to a throwdown. Eventually my husband's salad and pizza came. The salad was okay. The pizza was another trip to fantasy food wonderland. Once it finally arrived, that is.
Saving grace? Other than the mostly-great decor, fabulous food and tasty wine, the chef himself came to my table and inquired about my ravioli. He had been worried that it was sitting out on the counter for a very long time, and might have gotten cold.
That was really thoughtful of him, and did wonders to improve my opinion of the place. Also, an informal analysis of my fellow diners indicated that we just got stuck with a bad waiter. Other people didn't seem to have any problems getting service.
Strandz & Threadz
But maybe it's something about me. Because a mere week later, I decided to hit up Strandz & Threadz. I had been to the Looking Glass before, and had an excellent experience. However, I liked that Srrandz & Threadz had the Cuts for a Cure event. So I thought I'd give them a shot. It was my kid's birthday, and I wanted to treat her to a haircut and her very first manicure.
On the scheduled day, we showed up just before our appointment time...
Or so we thought.
The person I placed the appointment with had changed our appointment time without telling me. So we had 15 minutes to kill.
Or so we thought.
The lady at the desk invited us to look around at the boutique while we waited. And waited.
My daughter was thirsty, so I went in search of water. All the time I was thinking, at Looking Glass, there was a nice cozy waiting room that I barely got to enjoy before getting called in for my appointment. They offered me an assortment of beverages to sip and magazines to read. I did not have to seek out water, and I was not compelled at every turn to shop while waiting (even the tables in the front not-quite-waiting-area were covered with things to buy).
So 25 minutes after when I was told our appointment was, and 10 minutes after the time it was changed to without my knowledge, we finally got called on. The only acknowledgement of our lengthy wait was twice, and both times it felt more like they were trying to figure out if it was somehow my error, rather than an attempt to compensate for the mix-up.
However, someone at the desk did eventually apologize... as we were paying and heading out the door, which really doesn't help alleviate the frustration DURING what was supposed to be a fun mother-daughter event.
The stylist who gave my daughter a manicure and cut was quite competent in her work. My daughter's hair and nails look excellent. However, I had to ask for a seat while she was getting her nails, and I had to ask her to explain to my daughter what she was doing rather than quietly just do her work. And my daughter still had to ask how to get her hair like the stylist did it, at which point she merely said "use a straightening iron like I did." Oh, well is that all?
So she wasn't exactly welcoming or conversational. And maybe that was a reaction to us, who were both rather upset at that point. But why were we upset? Because the service so far had been lousy. And nobody was trying to make up for that fact.
On a Positive Note
I've also had some great experiences at other places in New Albany. The Looking Glass is one - they worked to make me feel right at ease. When told it was my first time there, they immediately arranged a tour of the facilities. It is a relaxing and welcoming place that will now be my go-to place for my salon and spa needs.
Also, the folks at Patticakes & Pies have always made my visits pleasant. The Bank Street Brewhouse always has great service. The people at Destinations Booksellers are quite helpful, and the last time I went in, the guy behind the counter actually remembered what coffee I like to order.
New Albany has a wonderful array of local businesses. I feel very fortunate to live in a town that has such flair. The trick is to seek out the establishments that have it all: style, quality, and good service