Bummer restaurant alert. It pains me to write this, but my hubby and I went for an early bird dinner at East Side Mario’s at Coquitlam Centre last Saturday. I’ve been to ESM’s two times before in Halifax. Even though it’s super kitschy, I remember it being a fun place to eat with some pretty good food. I have an idea what’s going on at the Coquitlam Centre restaurant, but first, here’s how it went down.

1) Arrived at East Side Mario’s on Saturday at 5:00 pm. Yup. Told you it was early bird time! We’re not seniors or anything, but had skipped lunch.
2) Greeted by a friendly but confused hostess. I knew we were in trouble when she looked around frantically trying figure out where to seat us in the almost empty restaurant. There were 3 other couples eating in the whole place and a birthday party in the far corner and she was seriously stressed about where to put us.
3) Greeted by a very friendly waitress. Friendly goes a long way with me, so I was prepared to give her the benefit of the doubt
4) What we ordered – calamari to start, Caesar salads, pasta for the entrees and diet cokes
5) What we got – rubbery calamari with some kind of tomato dip, pasta, diet cokes and some bread at the end of the meal – after we finished our pasta. Weird.
6) The cost – $44 before the tip.
7) I’m not sure what happened with the waitress – she just couldn’t get anything straight and just kept asking us over and over if everything tasted great. Due to lack of interest and an intense desire to leave on my part, we didn’t bother mentioning the lack of salads because I got the feeling the waitress wouldn’t know what to do about it anyway.

I think we experienced “lack of qualified staff” – everything from the cooks to the hostess to the waitresses. I have no idea how they handle that place when it gets really busy, which I’m sure it does. I know the other restaurant at the mall was so busy in the past, that it was common to have to wait 30 minutes or more for a table, so the need for this place is there, but I don’t know how they can compete with the service and food we experienced.

Good luck to them. I may be back in a couple of years to see if it’s anything like the experience we had in Halifax, but not any time sooner.

3 Comments so far

  1. Ghosty (unregistered) on April 18th, 2007 @ 3:48 am

    That’s bizarre..I swear I had that exact same experience (except the bread thing), butin Calgary at the Chinook Centre. Maybe they just hire people and leave them be without any training?

  2. Ryan Cousineau (unregistered) on April 18th, 2007 @ 10:53 am

    In a half-empty restaurant, it’s likely you’re getting the B-team on its own.

    But the real crime is that there’s at least three really good pastarias within 15 minutes of Coquitlam Centre, and none of them would be any pricier: Pasta Polo, Anducci’s, and a hidden gem in Port Moody called Rosa’s. Heck, Pasta Polo and Anducci’s are about two and three blocks down the street!

    That local knowledge and the frighteningly kitschy branding have kept me from ever setting foot in East Side Mario’s.

  3. carolbrowne (unregistered) on April 18th, 2007 @ 12:49 pm

    Good point, Ryan. And to think we never even considered those other restaurants right near by! Shame on us. But we learned from this and will never darken their doors again. Next time, Anducci’s it is!!

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