In order to avoid the NCAA regional crowd today, a coworker and I decided to give the newly reopened John's Big Deck a try for lunch. We thought we could get a good lunch and watch some Friday NCAA regional action without the crowds undoubtedly heading to Willie's based on the KC Beer Blog's recommendation. I wish I had taken my own advice.
When we got there about 11:20 there were about 4 other tables taken as well as 5 or 6 people at the bar. The first thing I noticed was how nice the hardwood floors looked, they used to be real ratty and had no shine. Now, it appears they've been sanded and refinished, it really looks nice. We found a table where we both had good views of a TV or two. With that important work done we were ready for some service. And we waited. And we waited. Welcome to John's! Same-o Same-o. After 5 minutes the waitress (and when I say the waitress, I mean there was only 1 waitress) came by and took our drink order, tea for my coworker and Dr. Pepper for me (why restaurants serve Pepsi, is beyond me, I'm a Coke guy). We got our drinks in a reasonable amount of time, the tea looked like they had brewed 5 gallons with one tea bag.
Something was missing, what could it be? A menu, yeah menus would be great. I actually had to ask the waitress if we could have a menu. She responded, it's around here somewhere, let me get it for you. When she said “it” she meant there was one menu for the whole restaurant. Why would you need more than one if there's only 1 waitress? She located the “menu” and brought it over, it was a sheet of paper with the 10 or so items listed in bold, center justified, Arial 12 point, no prices with the special written in pencil in the bottom margin. I can see why they only had one, you can't beat handwritten menu items.
The first thing we noticed was the absence of any kind of Lent friendly items, which is not a big deal to me, but my Pope loving friend was going to be forced to sin or eat mozzarella sticks for lunch. My motto is “sin before eating mozzarella sticks” and I think my coworker now can say that he's taken that to heart. He got “club sandwich” and I got “burger with fries”.
I've always had a bit of a conundrum when going to John's because I loved their fries and their chips. It was always a tough decision which one to get. With only one option, the choice was much easier, I got the fries. As we were waiting for our food, John's started getting their FoodService delivery. At lunch. At 11:45. Who gets their food shipments at lunch time? As the delivery was coming in through the front door, I noticed boxes of curly Q fries, not boxes of potatoes like a good restaurant would get. I also noticed a lot of people walking out of the restaurant having never been served. I don't think they were all Lent Friday people either as I don't think they ever saw a menu. I think they just got tired of waiting for any kind of service. I've never seen so many people leave a restaurant without being served.
When our food arrived with packets of ketchup and mustard setting atop the fries (seriously, who thought that was a good idea), I asked for some Tabasco sauce. Tabasco, for me, is almost a necessity for a hamburger, especially for a hamburger I'm kind of unsure about. The waitress said sure and went on her way. I was mildly curious if I was the first one to get Tabasco at John's since they reopened since I saw a 3 pack of Tabasco unopened, like if you bought it from Costco, sitting on the service table by the pickup window while we waited for our food. I thought they probably had an open bottle or two somewhere as well. Apparently that is what our waitress was looking for and couldn't find. I was able to hear her ask the bartender if they had any Tabasco. I was unable to hear the bartender's answer and I was never able to point out the unopened bottles to the waitress because she didn't come back by our table until our meal was finished.
Had my burger been accompanied with Tabasco it would have actually been pretty good, but with just ketchup it ended up being a little blah. My friend said his sinful club sandwich wasn't very good. The fries were horrible, nearly inedible. They were of the potato wedge variety and were sprinkled with some sort of flavor salt. Nothing would have helped them, they were just not good and obviously not made from scratch like they used to be. What's more, I only got 3 packets of ketchup for my burger and my fries, it would have taken 7 packets to help me choke down those fries.
It was hard to even enjoy the games going on on the TV's. It was comparable to trying to watch a game and have someone punch you in the nuts every 5 minutes. Every interaction with food, waitresses and drink was painful. I feel like I need to ice my balls after eating there.
Total time in John's was an hour and a half. Total time enjoying myself in John's was 20 seconds (the time spent admiring the newly restored hard wood floors, which was only interesting to me because we just refinished the floors in the Bull E. Vard mansion last year). It's going to be a long time before I trust them for lunch again. Let's just make a quick list of mistakes I've never seen before; one menu for the restaurant, the menu looking extremely unprofessional, condiment packets on top of the food. Then there were the mistakes you often see; understaffed, long wait times, bad food.
I hope this was just new opening pains but the mistakes made were quite glaring. I'll be interested to see if drink service at happy hour is as poor as lunch service was. If it is, John's won't last very long.