sports bar and cafe

Over the Game or Over the Newspaper?

Sometimes you want to lounge over a coffee and a newspaper, sometimes you want to hang out at a sports bar. Well fine, for the wanna be jocks and the pseudo intellectuals I thought I’d take in a couple of Victoria eateries: Union Pacific Coffee and Podium Sports Grill.

THE ORDER:
The Union Pacific is a place I use to frequent quite regularly. It was something different than the big coffeehouses and the food was pretty damn good. I hadn’t visited since I put on “upsell” goggles so I thought now would be a good time as any. After running a few errands I stopped in for my usual Soy Chai and Pesto Charlie Panini. The place wasn’t that full but even then; the place is mostly shared seating. So instead of making new friends, I bellied up to the bar top and had my meal. With a newspaper of course.

Podium Sports Grill I’d never been to nor had heard anything about. Friends had gone the weekend before but that was really the whole of it. A friend and I, whenever we meet up, go for wings at a different place every time. Podium was on our radar for this week. It was Monday night so it was as busy as you’d expect…tumbleweeds. Thankfully the wings were damn good…unfortunately this is a customer service blog and not a wing blog.

THE SERVICE:
When I conceived of this week’s blog, I was fully prepared to compare and contrast. Café vs. Bar. The ins, the outs. The blaring differences and obvious similarities. No dice. I can sum them both up with: OK. Fine.

Union Pacific is pretty good at getting through a line up. There was a cue when I arrived but it filtered through pretty fast. An order taken, a number given and off to my chair I went. Not a lot of interaction with the staff beyond that and when they drop off your food…oh wait, if you’re there long enough they take your empty plate. Shouldn’t forget that.

If I had one complaint, it was they put a napkin under the hot sandwich. They do it every time. My only serviette is not only greasy with melted cheese on it, I also have to pick the remnants off my sandwich. Yum.

Podium, not much different. Sat down and ordered. The waitress showed a little personality with a quick joke (though I’m sure she used it on most tables) and a smile. Food and drinks came quickly enough. It’s not like the place was very busy. It would have been nice to get a bit more interaction with the waitress. I wasn’t looking for a pick up or anything but we were two guys in a sports bar…there are expectations. In the end, I just wasn’t blown away but I wasn’t really disappointed either. It just…was.

THE CONCLUSION:

Union Pacific Coffee and Podium Sports Grill: 2nd Date – I’ll give you a second chance. I just don’t have anything to complain about. You don’t thrill me but you keep me satisfied in this relationship. Just don’t be surprised if you lose me to someone more exciting. I’m easy that way.

Service Rating System:

Friend Zone – I just don’t like you in “that way.”
Booty Call – If I don’t have anything else better going on, I’ll stop by.
2nd Date – I’ll give you a second chance.
Going Steady – This could be the beginning of something major.

THE TIP:
I’m getting really tired of debit machines with tip options. It’s all well and good if I’m in a restaurant where there’s some interaction with the server…and relationship, however brief, has formed…but pizza joints? Thai take out? I say thee nay! So you take my order, ring it through, turn, pick up my order, turn, and hand it to me AND want a tip? For what exactly? You’ve done the absolutely bare minimum. You’ve basically DONE YOUR JOB! No added value. No extra effort. Unless you count smiling…we have to tip for smiling now? If you read the “About the Upsell” section, you know I have a long background in serving and tipping. I’m a big fan of both. But I’m taking a stand here and now. You hear me order takers! I will no longer be guilted into tipping you for simple tasks! I’m serious because I’m using exclamation marks!

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6 thoughts on “Over the Game or Over the Newspaper?”

  1. Yay! Someone else who doesn’t feel the need to tip for take-out! The bane of my existence is Booster Juice; I love it but don’t feel like I should tip someone for using a blender. Sometimes still feel guilty because the tip function is there, even though the counter-person didn’t really do anything remarkable. The solution for me was to use my Visa because it has no tip function!

    1. Booster Juice has a tip function?! Does that mean we should be tipping at McDonalds or the Bay Centre food court?
      And here’s the funny thing, Visa costs more for the company to process so you’re sticking it to them twice. 🙂

  2. I have to agree with you on the tipping option. When I go to a counter service restaurant I am not paying someone a tip for service. They didnt do anything! A server is paid for coming to you, at your table, and taking your order and subsequently bringing you drinks and food and then more drinks when your drink runs out.

    Something that really irks me is that Podium does not offer Debit. In a time when most people don’t carry cash (mostly for safety reasons) I just think it is cheap to not offer debit. They do offer to take your credit card so they have the machine to do the debit, which puzzles me even more. I was referred over to the ATM in the corner that would have charged me $2 at the machine plus another $1.50 at my bank. We just used our credit card, but really, not having debit at a sports bar is just silly.

    On the food side though, the wings are soooo good!!

    1. Good point about “going to them vs. coming to me”.
      I’m glad you brought up the NO DEBIT thing. Podium…and I believe Darcy’s also doesn’t have debit? WHO DOESN’T HAVE DEBIT!
      The reason they do that is to get a cut of the debit machine’s service charges. So they get you taking out money and giving out money.
      Use Visa, like I said before, it costs them more to process and you still have control of the money you give them.
      Take that no-debit people!

  3. I’m in full agreement with a lot of points here.

    First of all, it’s 2010…get a #$&[email protected] debit machine. Pop quiz – who doesn’t have debit and wants your spare change? Bums, that’s who. Your a restaurant…get a debit machine.

    Second, if you have to grab an item from one shelf to put it on the counter for me, you don’t deserve a tip (I’m looking at you Brickyard) and I’d even go so far as to say, put shit in a blender and a cup doesn’t qualify either.

    We all have plenty of choices when we choose where to rid ourselves of our hard-earned money in exchange for food. If I have chosen a deli atmosphere, it means I just want someone else to make my food and eat in peace. I don’t want to be bothered by a server and I shouldn’t feel compelled to tip for being left alone. If I want to be waited on by a WAITer (see what I did there), then I have no problem tipping and generously if deserved.

    Lastly, I like the coffee at Union Pacific.

  4. Interesting info from Peanut92 (posted on my old site):

    The reason Darcy’s does not take debit is that the (new) owner has a business on the side providing debit machines, and Darcy’s make a very tidy sum on a friday and saturday night from the user fees those machines bring in. The owner of Darcy’s makes money a) on providing (leasing?) the machine to his own business, and b) from the machine itself used by customers at his business. Genius! The Darcy’s owner is good friends with the owner of Podium, and as the restaurant makes money a) by not providing debit services to their customers and b) from the ATM machine in the lobby it seems it’s a no-brainer for the restaurants, no? Personally I absolutely hate it and have left both establishments because of this.

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