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Boundary Stone Brunch

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When you get treated awfully at a restaurant, it’s frustrating. Exasperating, actually. I mean, what the hell are they thinking?

You get angry. You fume in your seat. You snap back at the server. Then, you storm out, leave a paltry, pathetic tip, and vow never to return.

That is, unless the restaurant immediately captures your attention upon exiting, reaches out to you, apologizes profusely, and offers to make amends, to remedy the situation.

This happened. When I brunched at Boundary Stone, I was pushed over the edge. And then the lovely lads who own the joint reached out and soothed me.

This, my friends, is a story of how to handle a customer’s bad experience. Restaurateurs, take notes.

Now, I don’t consider myself a bad diner for servers. My rule in life is: If you want to be a real person, you must wait tables at least once in your life. So you can taste what it feels like to be that server that gets treated rudely and never tipped, and, thus, be a more decent customer and all-around human being. So, with painful memories of waiting tables at ghastly Florida restaurants behind me, I am generally kind to busy wait staff. I’m mostly forgiving. I always tip well.

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I guess it all started with an eye roll. Granted, we were a big party for such a small restaurant. You have to slide open Boundary Stone’s heavy wooden door to reveal, well, an alleyway with a couple tables on one side of the restaurant and a few booths and a bar on the other. It’s a small space.

Knowing full well that they didn’t take reservations and that we would be a big party for this small restaurant, we got there early, happily grabbed some tables, pushed them together, and made do. The waitress—let’s call her Emma, because that’s her real name, as I found out later, and I am totally OK with calling this girl out—stood watching in disgust. Such open disgust that she rolled her eyes multiple times at our table-maneuvering and actually clucked at us. Yes, she clucked. Then, eventually, she threw the silverware at us.

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After we had gotten ourselves situated, we realized that we were directly under a heat lamp. As I wasn’t feeling well (later, I realized, this was the beginning of what would be a brutal seven-day flu), it was quite uncomfortable for me to be shivering, then sweating, under this enormous heat lamp, so we did some more reshuffling. Then there was more eye-rolling.

It went downhill from there. The service being so atrocious, it just made the mediocre brunch food completely unpalatable to me. The entire experience was rather sad, in the end, because I have heard from multiple locals in the neighborhood that they absolutely love the place.

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After we left, my angry tweets were immediately followed up by the owners. My friends had written emails to the restaurant, as well, explaining the situation. Those were also immediately followed up by owners. I will let my Bitches take it from here …

Hi Boundary Stone folks,

Thanks for replying to our complaint on Twitter. Not sure if Becca has reached out to you separately, but thought I would share my perspective on the experience.

We were part of the group of 10 who came in for brunch yesterday, and I was the one who called in advance and was the first to arrive. Everybody on your staff who I interacted with throughout the day was very friendly and helpful, with the exception of our waitress. She was incredibly rude and had an attitude from the very first interaction, rolling her eyes, chastising us, making us feel like a burden on her time, and at one point even yelling at a member of our party when he asked for cream for his coffee. Every time she left the table, my tablemates and I looked at each other in disbelief at her complete lack of courtesy.

I know large groups can be difficult, but I personally went out of my way to make things easier, letting her know how I wanted to rearrange the tables and assuring her we would take care of it so she didn’t need to go get help, then even passing out the water glasses and silverware she had left on a nearby table (she returned while I was in the middle of doing this and neither assisted nor acknowledged my help).

At the end of the meal, I collected all the credit cards, sorted them for her, brought them to her, and let her know that we wanted “$20 on these, $40 on this one, and the rest on this one.”  She laughed at me, told me to hold on, and went to wait on another table (note that this was after she had stopped and acknowledged that I wanted to show her how to divide the check).

Like I said, I know large groups can be difficult, but I have been to many other places with groups of a similar size and have never had a server display anything near level of rudeness and disdain for her customers. I appreciate you reaching out, but after that experience, I doubt many in our group will be interested in returning anytime soon.

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Here’s another that we sent …

Hello,

I attended brunch at the Boundary Stone on Sunday. I was pretty disappointed by the attitude displayed by the waitress through every interaction we had. As an example, I asked for milk for coffee and received a heated “you are asking for a lot of things” in response. I’ve been to Boundary Stone several times and really enjoy the restaurant. The attitude really concerned me and I’m sure that your other customers would not want to be responded to in similar ways for simple requests.

Thanks,

A customer

Thankfully, we got nearly immediate responses to our tweets and emails:

A customer,

I am very sorry to hear that you did not enjoy your experience at Boundary Stone on Sunday. We strive to provide to every guest the best possible service and experience. We were quite busy that day and I had thought we did our best to accommodate your large party. I have spoken with the server who waited on you that day. She was quite apologetic, and realized that her tone and attitude were not appropriate or in line with how we operate. Were there any other concerns that you or those in your party had? Were the food and drinks up to par? I did stop by the table and ask how everything was going and your group appeared to be happy. Again I am sorry you didn’t receive the hospitality you should expect coming here. I hope you will give us the opportunity to show you that is not how we do business. Thank you for your email . Please let us know if you have any other concerns.

Colin

We responded:

Thanks, Colin.  The food and drinks were OK… to be honest, I was a little bit nervous about asking Emma for anything. I didn’t want to get yelled at by a stressed out waitress.  We all have problems in life, you know?  I appreciate your reply.

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And we heard back again:

Again my apologies, just OK is not how we pride ourselves on our food and drink either. You absolutely shouldn’t be getting attitude from a service industry professional anytime, anywhere, period. We are in the business of Hospitality. We certainly do all have problems, but they aren’t supposed to come to work with us. Next time you’re in introduce yourself. Hope to see you soon.

Colin

Now, people. I appreciate these responses. I really do. It went a million miles for me. So, I will be back for brunch at Boundary Stone. And, yes, first, I will make sure not to sit in crazy Emma’s section. I will probably seek out lovely Colin, instead. And next time, I’ll pay more attention to the food, because I won’t be fuming in anger.

The Bitches say: F for now. For the horrible service, over which we couldn’t possibly judge anything else. We’ll be back, though.

Boundary Stone
116 Rhode Island Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C.
(202) 621-6635

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17 thoughts on “Boundary Stone Brunch”

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  1. I actually am seeing service as a major issue with the new “hot” restaurants in upcoming areas of DC. The community gets excited, the bloggers build buzz, they design it flawlessly but then they over price for the quality they deliver and SERVICE is a major issue.

    It’s almost like we need to calm down about all these places so they learn to treat their guests well. I’m tired of the over promise under deliver mantra.

  2. Hi Becca,

    This is Emma from Boundary Stone. I’ve read your post and would like to extend a sincere apology to you and your friends who dined with us the other morning. As a waitress it is my job to make all of my guests feel both welcomed and cared for. I clearly failed to do this on this particular occasion.

    Boundary Stone has always treated both their guests and employees with the utmost respect and appreciation. I love working there and I’m truly sorry that my passion was not apparent during your experience. I urge you to not to judge the establishment or my teammates based on my regrettable actions.

    Once again, I am so very sorry. Boundary Stone is a wonderful neighborhood restaurant and it would be our pleasure to have you back.

    Emma

  3. It’s nice that Emma used the above comment to apologize to you directly, but after reading this review and surmising that Emma is still employed at this restaurant, I’m unlikely to visit. A service industry professional should be fired for service like this. And it horrifies me to think of how many dozens or hundreds of tables she treated like this — they just didn’t have a blog to draw attention to their terrible experiences.

    Sure, we all have bad days where our performance at work is less-than-perfect. But no one behaves this poorly if it’s not part of their regular or semi-regular personality. No matter how bad my day (and I have a stressful job) and no matter how crazy members of the public can be, I’ve never rolled my eyes at people like this or yelled at them over basic requests. It’s just not in my personality and it’s so outside of professional behavior that I’d never do it. Someone who is willing to behave in such an ugly manner surely does it on a more frequent basis than just this one time. I don’t think I want to give my money to business that keeps on staff like this. There are many other great neighborhood choices.

    Also, while it was nice of the owners to respond to your concerns, I found the first response passive-aggressive and flippant. He essentially minimized your experience with the bad waitress by saying that he stopped by the table and you seemed “happy”. And then he deflected the importance of good service by asking if the food and drinks were good. Just apologize! Don’t bother with all the generic, fluffy intro crap and don’t minimize your customer’s concerns by saying they seemed happy to you.

  4. I guess my question here is did you complain to the manager when he stopped by the table? It’s not really fair to the restaurant to not give them a chance to correct the mistake until after you’ve left. (it’s still terrible about the rude server but I would’ve liked to know how the restaurant would deal with it real-time)

  5. If I were a waiter I would be hesitant to wait on a group who refer to themselves as “bitches who brunch”. You ladies sound like a group of rich obnoxious white girls.

  6. William,

    I didn’t realize that waiters got to discriminate or misbehave based on the economic class or race of their customers. Should we also let those who are uncomfortable with the poor or the brown treat them badly? And what about those pesky disabled folks? I bet they are annoying to wait on. (She says sarcastically.) I’m generally not so into right-wingers and those who are really religious – maybe I should treat them like crap when I’m in a service job.

    And while we’re at it, let’s make sure doctors don’t have to help people who smell bad or who are really, really sick, because that can be a downer and so annoying. And if a hairdresser doesn’t like someone’s hair, let’s be sure they get thrown out of the salon.

    Don’t be in a service job if you can’t treat everyone with a basic level of respect and if you can’t carry out your basic job function toward all involved.

  7. I am NOT excusing the server’s behavior, but from your post it sounds like you went in and started re-arranging the restaurant without asking. Previous posts have mentioned doing this too. If that’s what you did, as a former server, you should know that’s just rudeness. Also, as a former server you should know how it inconveniences all other customers in the restaurant when your server has to take a half hour to run 20 credit cards through, sort out who gets what ticket, etc. As a customer, you people annoy me. Just bring cash. Or use one of those apps where you can pay each other back on the spot and just have one person pay the ticket.

    Again, the clear sense of entitlement that this post smacks of doesn’t excuse bad behavior in return, but maybe a little introspection is in order. (Or be clearer about your actions when writing.) You note the apologies made up for everything so you will return and yes, bad service should be noted in a review, but the whole long post was a tantrum on service (copy/paste emails, really?) with barely a mention of the food. Go back and read this in a month or two when you’ve all calmed down and try to imagine how this appears to a casual reader.

  8. Well, William, I think we’re ALL glad that you aren’t a waiter. A good waiter needs to “read” a table. You can’t even clearly read this website.

    1) You refer to the “bitches” as rich white girls. One of the “bitches” here is not “white”; she is of Asian descent. The other “bitch” is definitely white, but I doubt that she’s rich, as she just bought her first place. No one who works for a living and buys their first place is rich, especially in the DC area.

    2) I am completely out of the demographic for this website. I live in southern Prince William County, and will never brunch where the bitches do. Furthermore, I’m out of their age demographic, since I am old enough to be their mothers. But I LOVE reading their brunch reports. If YOU don’t enjoy reading, William, why are you here?

    3) I thought it was a really brave thing for Emma to come here and post her apology. So, William, since you don’t know anything about the two women who run this website, I can only assume that you are here to either defend Emma (who doesn’t need it!) or you’re connected with this restaurant in some way (other than as a server, because you do NOT have what it takes to be a server). Your comment would be much more credible if you’d done just the teensiest bit of research.

    4) If you don’t like this site, William, perhaps you should just skip off to some other place on the internet? Surely there’s another site more to your liking?

    Signed, the gray haired lady who isn’t nearly as cute as the Bitches, but who you would probably dismiss simply by my appearance as being cheap. That’s if you were a server, William, which you aren’t.

  9. N,

    Like you, I have been a server, but unlike you, I don’t understand your whining about large parties. Restaurants have to deal with all sorts of inconveniences – large parties, tiny parties (or just one person) who take forever or barely order anything and sit doing work for hours, strollers or wheelchairs that require moving furniture, and so many other out-of-the-usual things. Get used to it. It’s called the service industry. And it’s called dealing with the general public.

    I also don’t get the whining about swiping multiple credit cards. It really doesn’t take THAT long. And it takes me less time than if that one party of 10 people had been 5 separate tables of 2 people.

    Though a big party often meant I needed to hustle more, I liked getting them. It often meant a larger check and bigger tips, and the diners were often happier or more fun than average. And while a big group is a lot of work in some ways, it’s less work for the same or more tips than the same number of people spread across a bunch of small tables.

  10. people are saying this girl should be fired because of a blog post? fuck you entitled snowflakes. your yelp experiences don’t make you the decider of someone’s job.

  11. Wait Wait,

    You don’t have a very good grasp of the facts or logic (or grammar). People are not suggesting Emma should get fired due to a blog post – they are suggesting it due to her providing rude, terrible service to people. Both Emma and the owner concede that bad, rude service was provided, so this isn’t exactly based on vague rumors. I feel bad for all the patrons who were treated like crap by her who don’t have a platform like this to air their complaints.

  12. JW asks a very valid question. Did any of your party complain to the manager when he visited your table? Not doing so doesn’t negate the bad experience you had, but it does make me wonder why you wouldn’t. I guess it’s more fun to send angry tweets than to lodge a complaint in person.
    I promise you, those same “lovely lads” that reached out to you over via twitter and email would have handled that situation in person and on the spot. It’s pretty awesome how you are “totally okay” with calling Emma out on your blog, but not in person.
    And Kris, are you really horrified by the thought of Emma giving bad service to countless other tables? There are a lot of horrifying things in this world, shoddy service from a waitress isn’t one of them.

  13. Hmmm …. I have eaten at the Boundary Stone scores of times if not a hundred. By myself. With a few friends. With a large group. For brunch. For lunch. For dinner. Each and every time their service has been impeccable. Having waited, bussed and hosted in my past, I can’t tell you how much I enjoy their service. They’re on top of everything all the while being so nice about it all, including the aforementioned wait staff whom you publicly called out.

    I see you gave them an “F” restaurant rating. Does that mean I can give you an “F” human being rating?

  14. emma is awesome…
    really sounds like you suck…
    bitches who brunch?
    and bitch about it online?
    get a life…
    the restaurant apologizes… emma apologized… and now she needs to get fired? i think you and your bitch friends need some bitchhunter loving 🙂

  15. I just came across this nasty review of Boundary Stone and the server, Emma, from last April. I visit this location a few times a month for dining purposes. My boyfriend and I were shocked by the review of the food and Emma.
    We always prefer to have Emma serve us because she is great. We are sorry for these 10 women who did not have the same wonderful experience. Of course, a server’s job is to deal with the customers, even when the customers are extremely annoying. Although a server should not be rude to guests for any reason, guests can use common sense for things such as not dining at tiny restaurants with large parties and paying with 1 credit card or using cash. Many businesses will not allow parties to use more than 1 or 2 credit cards.
    As for the food, maybe it was a bad day for foor and service because the food is always excellent, almost perfect here.

    thank you Boundary Stone for coming to R.I. Avenue

  16. If I were a server and a customer came in and started rearranging tables to accommodate a large group of people who weren’t all there yet, I’d be pissed too.

  17. You should return to eat here (with a smaller group — boundary stone sits about 40 people max) and try again. The food is great, the atmosphere is great and the wait staff is always great.

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