Home SF Bay Area Pasta Primavera Ruined Our “Oh So Precious” Date Night

Pasta Primavera Ruined Our “Oh So Precious” Date Night

by TerriAnn

It started off great . . .

My daughter went to sleep over at my sister’s house for two days. All of a sudden it dawned on me that my DH and I could finally spend some time together! We’ve been so busy and so tired that even our eleventh anniversary earlier in the month was spent with our DD doing errands. We were long overdue for a ‘date’ as it had been months!

Now it was time for a peaceful dinner out. We knew many of our friends had eaten at Pasta Primavera in San Mateo, CA but had not yet had a chance to try it ourselves. We knew the prices were a bit higher but our Entertainment Book had an offer for 50% off a second entree. We decided to take the plunge since it was kind of a belated anniversary.

I asked the hostess about using our Entertainment card and she said to just include it with our credit/debit card when we got the bill. My DH decided to order the Manicotti and pointed to it on the menu of Chef’s Specials. The waiter asked if he wanted soup or salad. We said, “Is it included?” He said that it was included in all the meals so my DH ordered a salad.We thought that it was such a great deal to get a salad and a full entree all for only $9.95 – great Chef’s Special deal! Plus, I liked that there were petite portions as well.

The waiter brought us two salads each with Italian dressing. We both ordered Ranch. With no apology the waiter switched out our salads. This was a prelude to much more.

The food came and it was pretty good. My husband got three large stuffed Manicotti that he could not even finish and we were surprised that it was under $10. I ordered the tortellini. While the food was not ‘to die for’ it was tasty and did not leave a heavy feeling that many rich food usually do. Then we got the bill.

Instead of the advertised $9.99, they charged $15.95. We called over the waiter and told him we saw a different price listed on the menu. He brought the menu and we discovered that they gave us the lunch version the Chef’s Specials menu instead (though it is not stated anywhere on the menu that it was for lunch). He said that they served us the ‘dinner’ portion instead of the ‘lunch’ portion so we had to pay the full price. We kept going back and forth, even restating that my husband actually pointed directly to it as he (the waiter) acknowledged the menu item and wrote the order. He didn’t budge and kept a stern face. He was rude and we asked for the manager.

The manager finally came and he just said, “Yes?” We asked if he was the manager and he said, “No, I’m not the manager, I’m the one in charge.” Duh, that is what a manager is! We explained the situation though the waiter just did moments earlier. He left, grilled the hostess for giving us the wrong menu as she flatly denied it it. He came back telling us that the lunch portion is usually smaller and since my DH ate it he had to pay the dinner price. We clearly stated that we ordered (and pointed to it on the menu) a meal for $9.99 and, not knowing it was the ‘dinner’ portion since it was our first time there, should not have been charged more for their employees’ mistakes. The ‘manager’ was totally unapologetic but said, “Okay, I can put the price down just this one time but you’ll have to pay for the salad since it doesn’t come with the ‘lunch’ portion.”

What?! The waiter clearly told us it was included so my DH ate it. Now they want to charge for it?! Was this person totally clueless or just plain stubborn? Of course, we said that was ridiculous and that we shouldn’t have to pay for it. Now it wasn’t the price alone that was the problem. The problem was we ordered one thing, they gave us something else, and told us it was our fault for eating it. That was just wrong!

He left and the entire staff was gathered in the back of the restaurant around the telephone, giving us dirty looks. Assuming he called the owner, he finally came back with an adjusted bill. The waiter, by the way, basically avoided us completely.

We put our payment in the bill along with the Entertainment card. The manager quickly told us he could not honor it since he already discounted our meal. We said that the reason the price was adjusted was because of their mistake and should not affect the Entertainment Book discount. At this point we were extremely frustrated.

Manager: “I can’t do that. The computer won’t let me add another discount.”

Us: “Yes, you can. Just cancel this transaction and ring up a new bill. When that is done, apply the discount.”

Manager: “Well, I’ll see.”

Now my DH is usually very calm but he was getting riled up by now. He said he wanted an apology for ruining our evening as the entire staff refused to even show the slighted bit of sympathy or even being sorry about their mistake. He told the manager that he was definitely going to Yelp about our experience and how disappointing it was. The manager paused and then, again, he ran to the back and got on the phone.

Now everyone in the restaurant is looking at us as the manager painted us as some cheap dinner guests that were trying to gouge them to give us two cents off our bill. What a horrid feeling! I had finally gotten the energy to put some make-up on and some nice clothes. Plus, my DH and I were enjoying our company together so much. But now I was flustered and almost ready to cry. “Why did this have to happen on our precious date night?!” I wondered. Nothing was even our fault!

The manager came back and dropped the bill on our table. He said a cold, “Sorry this happened” that sounded completely perfunctory. We paid but were not about to leave a tip. I solemnly got up and my DH put his arm around me as he slowly walked with me out of the restaurant. I felt like our special evening was ruined. The hostess did say sorry but the rest of the staff, including the manager, ignored us as we walked to the back entrance to the parking lot.

This was, by far, the worst restaurant experience ever!

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Lisa from Life with Lisa April 26, 2011 - 12:46 pm

I’m so sorry that happened to you. I will NEVER EVER eat there. I cannot support a restaurant that doesn’t put their customer first. How rude of them. I hope you guys have a great date night next time.

Cookies & Clogs April 26, 2011 - 1:48 pm

Thank you, sweetie. It was such a silly thing to blow up over and could have been so easily avoided 🙁

James April 26, 2011 - 3:21 pm

Sorry for your experience, I never have liked that place. I have always found the service and food to be mediocre at best. Kudos for getting dressed up and actually going out on a date though!

Cookies & Clogs April 26, 2011 - 3:28 pm

Well it’s on our ‘do not eat’ list now 🙂 It was so nice to spend some time with just the DH though!

Kristen April 26, 2011 - 4:52 pm

oooh reading that got me steaming! Have never been there…won’t bother now.

Cookies & Clogs April 27, 2011 - 1:52 pm

Save yourself a headache or order takeout 🙂

Jen-Eighty MPH Mom April 26, 2011 - 5:02 pm

OMG that is horrible!! And to make you feel like a low-life…wth is wrong with them? I hope your husband did write about them on Yelp! Jerks…

Cookies & Clogs April 27, 2011 - 1:56 pm

He did and it’s a good one: http://www.yelp.com/biz/pasta-primavera-restaurant-and-bar-san-mateo# (under Frans v.)

Suzi April 26, 2011 - 11:57 pm

ARGH! I’ve been to that restaurant once and can totally imagine the service you encountered. Let’s just say that I’ve never been back. It’s so sad, especially when you want to frequent the local restaurants, but with service like this, forget it! Sorry your anniversary was ruined! Next time you want date night, there are lots of other places in San Mateo that are nice with better service!

Cookies & Clogs April 27, 2011 - 1:57 pm

I’m always open to suggestions! It seems food quality and service have gone down in so many of our ex-faves!

Sam April 27, 2011 - 5:12 am

Wow, that’s awful! There is one restaurant I will be sure not to visit!

Cookies & Clogs April 27, 2011 - 2:01 pm

It’s not that I want to bash the restaurant. I just think it’s sad businesses think they can treat customers this way, especially in such an economy when going out to eat is a luxury.

Sonia April 27, 2011 - 9:24 am

This was the place on 3rd, right next to Jamba Juice, right? Well, we’re never going there now! That manager just cost himself a large clientele! Too bad for him he didn’t know that you write a blog and now all your readers know about this!

Cookies & Clogs April 27, 2011 - 2:03 pm

Yep, that’s the one. Either that guy learns how to be a good manager or the owner needs to pick his staff better . . . Let’s scout out a new Italian fave – Macaroni Grill or Old Spaghetti Factory anyone?

Jen-Eighty MPH Mom April 27, 2011 - 4:11 pm

Wow I just read the other reviews on Yelp too – and it looks like the manager has gotten plenty of people mad!

Cookies & Clogs April 28, 2011 - 11:51 am

Yep, and he’s still there . . .

Hungrigyrl May 8, 2011 - 2:31 pm

Hope you still Yelped about it!

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