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Installation (Wordpress Part): Steakhead's Atlanta Eats Blog: Technology is NOT Your Friend at Legal Sea Foods Atlanta

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Technology is NOT Your Friend at Legal Sea Foods Atlanta

I have been working in the tech industry for the last 12 years and can easily be described as a technology optimist. But there are some times where simple, basic human interaction trumps technology every time. And when I am looking at a menu with prices easily in the $20+ range per entree, there is no substitute for good ole fashion, attentive customer service.

My guess is most people probably know about Legal Sea Foods. It’s a Boston-based seafood restaurant that has opened up shop in the Hilton Garden Inn near Centennial Park. (Actually, it’s right across the street from the Georgia Aquarium, prompting multiple queries as to where they were getting their fresh seafood from. If I see Whale Shark on the menu, we’ll have our answer.) The bottom of the restaurant is primarily a bar, with the main dining one floor above. The views of the Downtown Atlanta skyline from the 2nd floor are outstanding. Legal Sea Foods prides itself on its exceptionally fresh seafood and its “famous” clam chowder, which most of our group of 7 ordered. I found the prices a little high considering fried clams cost $19 and a lobster roll sandwich cost $23. But considering we are a landlocked city, and there is no such thing as a working lobster dock within a 3-hour flight of here, I guess you’ll have to take it.

But what made this meal stand out, was not the food, however, which was decent. It was the almost comically awkward service we received. Our waitress had some sort of handheld contraption to take our orders. However, either the user or the device was unable to take a person’s appetizer and their entrée order simultaneously. So after 3 people ordered, we were somewhat scolded to first provide all soup and appetizer orders so she could submit them, and then she could take our entrée orders.

Now you would think that with this modern technology, at least there wouldn’t be any mix up with the actual order taking. Wrong. One person didn’t get their chowder. Another didn’t get their entrée. Lady Steakhead tried twice to order a cranberry and soda, only to be given straight cranberry. I’ll give the manager some credit here, who realized things were running amok at our table and comped all the soups and appetizers. That was appreciated and almost made everything better. Almost. They were so close.

But the problem was the meal wasn’t over and we still needed to deal with our waitress to at least get the check. When that came, I said we were going to give several credit cards. At that point, the waitress placed the contraption on the table and told us we could do that ourselves. What? Are we in McDonald’s?? You have screwed up our order multiple times, and you won’t even run the credit cards? Maybe that was a good thing, because who knows what we would have been charged.

I think Legal could do well in Atlanta, especially in that location where there are not a ton of options (though this is changing). Service, though, will need to be improved significantly. The other thing they may want to consider is a cheaper lunch menu, as their prices could limit some of the daytime tourist traffic. There is no way I am paying $23 for a lobster roll for lunch.

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Blogger sethroatl said...

I went there a few weeks back and had a multi-grilled fish plate, since in boston I had had lobster rolls and chowder previously (and enjoyed them). The presentation was laughable, looked like I got the scrappy pieces -- and frankly, the taste was mediocre. I understand that they are supposed to have somewhat of a rustic feel, but I won't be back for a while unless I get the plain old lobster roll and chowder, and based on your review I'll bring cash.

6:28 PM  
Blogger Leslie said...

They use similar contraptions at the Fork & Screen in Buckhead and it's an equal debaucle! Sometimes techno-change isn't the best thing, huh?

6:25 AM  
Blogger Steakhead said...

No doubt Leslie. And the thing that gets me is that for their prices, it should me much more about full service than "techno-change".

8:32 AM  

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