9/19/2012 11:37:00 AM

Restaurant Deal Breakers: 10 Things That Will Make You Never Come Back

There are things that will make you complain at a restaurant, and there are moments that will nearly ruin your meal. But there's a special category of mishap that will make you walk out and never come back. These are the restaurant deal breakers - something so bad that the eatery is lucky if you even make it to your check, never mind pay it. We've compiled a list of these epic fails in the slideshow below - as always, we've based some of them on your suggestions and want to hear more. Let us know your restaurant deal breakers in the comments below.

44 comments :

  1. You never mentioned outright rude and/or non-attentive service. That will make sure I never return quicker than noise.

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    1. No kidding. I recently walked out of a restaurant where NOBODY bothered to check on me within five minutes of sitting down. When I got up to leave, they were surprised. I told them I was insanely hungry, but I felt they didn't really care I was there. A manager cam out and apologized, invited me back in, but I declined. I did return a few weeks later, and everything was OK this time.

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    2. 5 minutes? Were you the only person there? Did you seat yourself? 5 minutes is an acceptable time to allow guests to get settled and look at a cocktail or appetizer menu. I would have assumed three menu was too expensive for you if you left that quickly.

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    3. No it is not. 5 minutes is way too long to sit and wait to at least be greeted. I had done the same thing at least once. Guests should be greeted within 2 minutes at most from the time they sit down. At least say, hi folks ill be with you in a minute. Even better, call the manager after you leave and tell them why you are now eating at their competitors restaurant.

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  2. How about never getting your food? This happened to us one evening at a French brasserie, and the manager compounded the problem by telling us not to worry. He would take it off our bill!

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  3. an alternative to argumentative management are those who during the polite complaint seem understanding, but you overhear them talking to each other on your way to the restroom and hear how they really feel - basically talking sh*t about you in more ways than one. and when caught, makes eye contact, looks away as if nothing happened. wow. not only did i never return, i let everyone who asked know what the mgt / owner does at that place.

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  4. We had two terrible experiences in the category of deal breakers. One Local Italian restaurant had a South American sea bass on the menu which two of us ordered. The fish was way over salted (probably to disguise the smell). About 2-3 hrs after ward both of the fish eaters got violently ill from the bad fish. The symptoms were diagnosed later on as probable toxic shock syndrome from eating the bad fish. The second episode occurred in a local "high-end" restaurant where we had brunch. My wife bit into her scone and there was an audible crunch I heard from across the table. She spit out the scone and we discovered shards of broken glass in the scone. We immediately got up and left.

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  5. I've had a lot of trouble lately with the servers putting their thumbs in my food. The last time this happened was at Cracker Barrel but I had the server put his thumb in my rice at Rasika. When that happened I called down the waiter about it and kept the dish only because I was with someone else and didn't want to delay the meal but I scraped off the offending rice.

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  6. The temperature! I recently had brunch at an extremely popular brunch place in New Orleans. While it was a balmy 90 degrees outside, it must have been 60 or colder inside. We shivered the entire time and I had to practically inhale my food just to eat it while it was hot. I didn't get to my grits in time and they were ice cold. We left with stomach aches from eating so quickly and shaking the whole time.
    The reason this is so offensive is that this is clearly the staff letting you know that their comfort is more important than yours. It ruined the entire meal and I will never go back.

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  7. Not listing all the ingredients on the menu that are in a dish will make me never return, mostly out of fear. I'm allergic to avocado, and it's really annoying to go to a sushi restaurant and order a supposedly avocado-free sushi roll -- according to the menu -- only to have it appear with avocado inside.

    Also, if I order something knowing it has avocado, and I ask for them to nix it, they'd better nix it. If the item comes out wrong, I won't be a happy customer. If they refuse to remake it correctly and they still charge me for it, I will never return.

    I once went to a sushi restaurant where I asked for the avocado to be excluded from my roll, and I was told I wasn't allowed to do that, as "the rolls are pre-made". Uhhh, yeah... sushi is supposed to be made fresh. That restaurant shut down shortly thereafter.

    Bottom line, not taking into account your customers' food allergies or other dietary restrictions is just plain rude, and possibly very dangerous. If a person dies from anaphylactic shock in your restaurant because the menu made no mention of, say, peanuts being in the dish, I wouldn't blame the customer's family for slapping you with a wrongful death suit.

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  8. Also, when it takes for-freaking-ever to get your check. Some of us are on a lunch HOUR, you know, not TWO hours.

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  9. I would have to say rude management and unexplained charges on the bill are the my top 2 reasons for never returning to a restaurant. Sadly, these happened in the same one - a little Italian place in Baltimore City. $60 worth of extra fees unexplained on the bill, and to top it off, the owner lecturing us about bringing too large of a party to her restaurant. I hope all restaurant managers read this and remember - your customers should always come first.

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  10. Hmmm..how about a place where they have not thought through the concept of wheelchair access? No accessible bathrooms and our restaurants is impossible to maneuver. That will make one not want to comeback.

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  11. When I was a little girl, I ate a roll and had to keep chewing and chewing. Finall had to spit it out. It was a cigarette filter. This was a long time ago, but there was NO compensation offered. Also, once a friend was eating a turkey sandwich at a deli. There were 4 of us. He spit out a used bandaid. They gave him a slip for a free sandwich on his next visit. Also said they checked and it wasn't from any of their workers, must have come in the meat!!

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  12. I can't believe nobody mentioned dirty toilets. I'm known for going to the loo to wash my hands before a meal, but mostly it's so I can suss out the facilities. If there's no towel, soap or toilet roll, how are the staff washing their hands etc? Dirty toilet and basin is an instant put off and I leave the place without eating.

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  13. The Meadowood in Napa Valley did that thing where they offer you a choice of still or sparkling water at the beginning of the meal without saying that they charge for both. I didn't even drink any water and they charged us $16 for two glasses. Tacky. Never going back.

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  14. What about being seated right next to another table when there are other open tables available? So annoying. Will always reject being seated in row tables.

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  15. Injury wasn't mentioned in the top 10, but it's certainly a reason not to return. When my son was 2 or 3 years old, we were at Village Inn and the boiled egg we ordered for him exploded in my face. Luckily, I was the one cracking the shell! I had burns on my face and neck. The restaurant didn't even pay for our meal! However, to give them some credit, they did pay for my eye exam to be sure my eyes weren't damaged. We have not been to a Village Inn since and that was more than ten years ago.

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  16. Poor service is the number one reason I will never return to the restaurant...plus, I also, as a reader above mentioned, first check out the restroom before I am seated to see if it is clean, well-stocked. My wife taught me to do this, as her reasoning was if they don't keep the restrooms clean, how clean is the kitchen????

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  17. My sister was served a meal and the waiter asked if he could have some of her french fries. She never went back.

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  18. Two hours waiting for a meal,and then have the owner argue with me about what time the order was taken(fifty minutes after being seated).i have been going there for over ten years,to add insult to injury,and have a great rapport with the staff.

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  19. At our restaurant we have a $7 split entree fee at dinner. The protein is split in half but both guests get a full portions of the sides.

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  20. One of my pet peeves is having to wait to be seated when you made a reservation. If I make a reservation, I expect to be seated within 5 minutes of my arrival. I've had several instances where I had to wait up to 40 minutes. If they can't get something as simple as blocking off a table right, I wonder what else they're not doing right.

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    1. Unfortunatley, some guests think they own a table for the night. It really is stressful for restaurant staff when people are too dimwitted to get up - even when they have been informed that there was a reservation coming in behind them. Restaurants cannot always control idiotic diners and it really sucks.

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  21. When did obviously fresh Atlantic sardines prepared Portuguese style for grilling over charcoal become an image for "Terrible Food"? Is this really Zagat, or an imposter?

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  22. I agree, those fish look fresh, and whether the crystals are ice or salt, it's not a deal-breaker. Piscophobic much?

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  23. Bad food plus a reaction from the manager. This really happened to me. At the end of the meal, I was asked how I liked the food. I was honest; I thought the quality of the food at this place was not at good as it once was. The manager came to see me and asked me if I cooked. I said I did. He went to explain the following fact of life to me: Since I cook, I still know what good food tastes like. But the majority of people don't cook at home anymore; they have forgotten the taste of good food. So most restaurants have dropped their standards. Somehow, after that, I no had the same desire to eat out anywhere.

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  24. An overly aggressive sales pitch by the wait person really annoys me. When I order, the wait person tries to get me to order other things. I especially resent this since I notice this behavior is directed at the women at the table, but not the men.

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  25. What about when you pay the bill, and the server asks if you want your change back? Not only do they not get to keep the change, they no longer get the tip.

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    1. How about not even asking, just never coming back with your change? Once, a while ago, I paid an $21- check with two $20 bills. After waiting ten minutes, I asked the waitress about our change. I got an "oh, you expected CHANGE back??" (yes, with a heavy dose of sarcasm thrown in for good measure.) I think I replied something like, "oh, you expected a 95% tip??"

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    2. Seriously? Some people want change back, others don't. That's why servers ask. Not tipping over something that trivial? Shame on you.

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  26. How about the trifecta? 1) Terrible food (as in rotten); 2) Owner getting in your face and saying "no one ever complained about it before" and threatening to call the police if you refuse to pay up (I threatened to beat the crap out of him); 3) Over priced food to begin with---all in one meal.

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  27. How about complaining about your meal to your waiter and getting the reply, "There is nothing I can do about that since that is the way it was prepared. I can let the chef know about it though so that it does not happen again."

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  28. Just a thought everyone, I suggest that you include the name and location of the establishment that you're complaining about. Just for fun, you can even e-mail the restaurant with a link to this page, or even call them to let them know what you posted here.

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    1. I know, just for fun you should put where you work and we can call to complain about you!!! So much fun!

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  29. My husband and I were at dinner many years ago, and as the waiter cleared the table, he came very close to cutting my arm with my own steak knife. My husband pointed this out to him, and the waiter's response was "oh." Needless to say we complained to the manager, and never went back.

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  30. Okay, most of these reasons I agree with. But here's the thing: if you go to a bar for the first time without asking around about it and finding that it's not your cup of tea, and that they seem to cater to their target audience (who they spend money to attract) over you, it doesn't mean you need to bash it in your blog or on your twitter feed. Just don't go back. Be classy about it, folks. If its a full crowd and it takes them more than fifteen minutes after they seat you to send you a server, by all means, complain. But don't get fussy just because it's not your vibe. And you never know if they have a batch of new servers/staff being trained to take care of you.

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  31. Sadly most diners come into a restaurant thinking they are always right, and can expect and demand whatever they like.
    Perhaps.
    Behave as you would a guest at a friends house for dinner, then eating out in public will be a much better affair.

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  32. We took Dad to Legal Seafoods for his birthday. He ordered chocolate cake with raspberry coulis for desert. When it came, Dad dipped his fork into the sauce and made a funny face. My cousin looked over and said, "That looks like cocktail sauce." Turns out it WAS cocktail sauce. They gave him a new dessert with the correct sauce, but all the waiters and even the manager thought it was hilarious and were laughing in front of us. I felt that they should have at least apologized profusely rather than making a big joke out of it.

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  33. Compared to some things mentioned here, this seems almost trivial. Here in FL, it is illegal to smoke inside restaurants. It's a total turnoff for me when I approach the restaurant entrance and several employees are standing in that area smoking. If they must smoke, they should go behind the building or down the street.

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  34. I once had a waitress say "fantastic" thirteen (13) times.

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  35. On the flip side, how does a manager handle when a customer is being completely rude to them and complaining about everything but still wants the food? I felt bad for the manager as she was very apologetic and was trying to please this vocal, and rude, customer. Do you think they should be asked just to leave since no matter what, they are mad and not satisfied?

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  36. I know that the current generation of servers believe tattoos, gauges, piercings and hair as an art form to be normal and their inalienable right to self-expression, but I will be honest: I am a little dubious/queasy at the sight of a lot of orifice piercings. I don't consider them a part of a good dining experience.

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