Sunday, May 18, 2014

On the Road to Beercation

Ready for the roadtrip! (Not really my car.)
The wife took me along with her on a buying trip to SoCal last week, so of course, I made her stop at every brewery from here to LA. Hey, it's like that Scorpion and the Frog fable. I can't change my nature. It's what I do.

We stopped at a lot of great beer spots and I'll review the best one in another post. This post is about an entirely different experience--a completely negative one. I'm not going to name names. That's not my nature either. I don't use this blog to troll. I'm not some angry beer dilettante, using my modicum of knowledge to deride brewers and make enemies. Nope, not me. However, I would like to document a few observations and make some recommendations for ANY business owner out there who gives a sh*t about cultivating a positive public image.

Traveling up the 101, I spotted a rather well-known Gold Coast brewer's taproom. The signage was huge and could be seen quite clearly from the road--even with my terrible eyesight. "TAPROOM" it proclaimed. I was thirsty. Score! It was about 2:00 PM, on a weekday, so I was fairly certain they would be open.

We pulled into the parking lot and it was filled with vehicles. Yay! A guy was getting into his truck as we arrived. "You know they are closed for remodeling, right?" he snarled. Seriously, the dude literally snarled, or snarked. In any case, he was a jerky deliverer of bad news.

Now, I don't know how me or any other traveler would have had any CLUE the place was closed for remodeling. The giant-ass sign and all the cars in the parking lot seemed to be relaying the opposite message. In any case, I knew that this particular brewery had another taproom in another city down the road. We would just have to hold our thirst and hunger for a few more miles.

When we arrived at the second location, I started to get excited. Yes, just like Charlie at the gates of the Chocolate Factory. If my wife hadn't been with me, I probably would have sprinted for the door of that taproom. Hooray! I love brewery tours and taprooms!

My wife headed for the restroom and I plopped down at the bar and began perusing the tap list up on the wall. A tall, blonde beertender immediately approached and asked what I wanted to drink. Unfortunately, I was still trying to make a choice--apparently not fast enough for the beertender. She took an instant dislike to me, snorted "I'll give you more time", and stormed off in a visible huff. She never came back.

When my wife returned from the restroom, she looked over the menu and asked if I had ordered a beer yet. I replied in the negative. About 15 minutes went by and it became obvious that we were being intentionally ignored. Beertender would not even look in our direction. My wife would have none of that and hollered for some service. Another young lady, who advised us that she was a new trainee, was sent over to us.

Now, I really don't know what I did to piss off that first beertender. Perhaps she was just having a bad day. That taproom was clearly constructed to serve tourists. I'm certain I'm not the first person who has taken more than a minute to decide what beer to order. Maybe I look like her deadbeat dad. I don't know. I don't care. What I do know is that she ruined my entire experience at that brewery. I didn't want to take a tour, I didn't want to buy any swag, I just wanted to leave.

I've said this many times: if I leave your beer serving establishment with only one beer in my belly, you are doing something very, VERY wrong!

Business owner, be you a bar, brewery, taproom, or retail store, your employees are your face. If they are rude assholes, YOU are going to be deemed a rude asshole by proxy. It's really that simple. If that beertender worked for me, well, she wouldn't work for me. I would insist she greet every customer with a smile and provide the same service to everyone. Not able to do that? Go work at the DMV.

When we were finishing up at that taproom, my wife asked the trainee if she was getting any tips yet. "No, just the servers get the tips while I'm training," she advised. My woman demanded my wallet, plucked out several crisp bills and handed them to the trainee. Rude beertender got zip, zed, nada, zilch. Sure, it only amounted to enough to pay for her next pack of Virginia Slims, but TOUCHE!

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